Arts, Television

Settling In, Seething, and Sex Make for a Beautiful ‘Catastrophe’


It’s Rob and Sharon’s three-year anniversary. The baby, their second (Muireann, a girl, correct pronunciation TBD) is still asleep, and the couple gets to sleep until a blissful 7:15 a.m. The fifth episode opens in a pre-morning instead of post-coital haze. Director Ben Taylor, who shot all 12 episodes of the show, has an eye for the bedroom—both for the acts of passion, as well as the more subtle moments that occur there.

Rob, gesturing to himself and his wife in bed, sighs, “I’m more proud of this than I am of the kids.”

He continues, “I mean who doesn’t want to take care of their kids? You’d have to be a monster to not want to do that. But this, maintaining this, this is the slog.”

The slog has never been so fun. With all due respect to Mother’s Day and whatever side holiday-based fare Hollywood is trying to resurrect the rom-com with these days, Catastrophe is the best romantic comedy you’ll find this year (though You’re the Worst and parts of Girls have an outlier argument). Coming in at a tidy three hours, Catastrophe is a delightful way to spend a few nights or an afternoon with a pal, a partner, or ya know, just by yourself.

If you missed the first season, it’s not hard to catch up. American boy Rob knocks up Irish school teacher Sharon in London. Rob comes in from Boston to give things a go with Sharon, and they make their way in London around a colorful cast of characters.

Taylor’s London feels like a real place in the same way L.A. feels real in Transparent and You’re the Worst and New York does in Girls and Broad City. London is a land of its own wasps and night owls. They just talk funny.

Written by stars Delaney and Horgan, the creative team has hit fast-forward on their fictional romantic partnership. The show adds a kid after season one and the second season delightfully stumbles along.


If the first season tackled adult courtship sans cliche, then the second is about marriage and raising kids, and more precisely the balance between man and wife, parents and kids.

Catastrophe feels real, in the way great pop art can look gorgeous and make you happy and sad at the same time. The second season features prostitutes, dementia, death, a job that’s festering within Rob. This may all sound weird, but money exists in Catastrophe. Rob has to keep his job marketing pharmaceutical drugs because, as much as his anger may be festering within, it pays and he has a family to support. Delaney and Horgan make you feel the burden.

Catastrophe boasts some of the most engaging small-screen performances, both in the foreground and background, around. No one ejaculates as well or as often on television as Delaney. Whether Catastrophe is television or something else is a discussion for another time. Horgan somehow conveys sincerity and incredulity at the same time. Carrie Fisher is more alive as an overbearing Ebay shark and witch of a mother-in-law than she was in her brief scenes as Leia in The Force Awakens. Mark Bonna—in the best-friend role—smokes an e-pipe like freaking James Dean.

Catastrophe is interested in exploring all the things that surround and prop up a marriage. We’re left to wonder if Sharon and Rob are two (funny) folks chugging along in a rotted relationship, propped up and buffered by a nice house, cute kids, and a catch of a cast of side characters. Catastrophe is wondering if the sparks we saw in the first season can grow into a sustainable fire.

One of the charms of television is that it—like a romantic relationship—lives and grows over time, though some enviable fella will find Catastrophe in 2022 and have a torrid few-day affair with the show. Finding the first season was like having a crush on the girl a few rows up in class. But it lasted for a week. You got over it. The second season wants a bit more. It stakes an emotional footprint. It wants a relationship. And well, it’s got one. Hi. It’s the viewer. We want more.

Featured Image By Avalon Television

April 13, 2016

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