Now that Mad Men and season 3 of Orange Is the New Black have come and gone, we found ourselves determined to fill the void with a new show—and preferably one that was streaming. Thankfully, we've recently discovered Catastrophe, a new British sitcom starring (and co-written by) Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney, available on Amazon Prime. It centers around a couple that gets together after Horgan's character becomes pregnant from a one-night stand. Here, InStyle's resident fans Claire Stern and Joshua David Stein discuss why it's one of the best shows on TV right now.
Claire: I generally have a hard time getting into new TV shows—mostly because a lot of pilots are terrible these days—but what I liked most about Catastrophe was that it gets right into the thick of it within the first five minutes. There's no slow build.
Joshua: I think that's probably wise of Horgan and Delaney. The premise, a one-night stand yields hilarious cross-cultural results, is a little ham-fisted. What's brilliant about it is how rich and wonderfully human the characters are as they deal with the fallout.
Claire: Exactly. Their rapport is very natural. It's not sitcom-y at all, even though some of the side characters can be (e.g., Sharon's crazy friend, Fran, played by Ashley Jensen).
Joshua: Yeah. But her husband, Chris, played by Mark Bonnar, is great. I want a man friend like that. I also feel like Sharon and Rob's relationship is almost exactly how I want my relationship to be. Even when they get mad at each other, they aren't nasty. But, again, not in a sit-com-y way. It's possible two real people could interact that way. Curious, have you watched it with your significant other?
Claire: I watch it with my boyfriend. Sometimes it takes us a while to find a show we can both agree on, but this one somehow worked. Unlike Togetherness, which was excruciatingly painful to watch as a young couple, we enjoy watching Catastrophe together.
Joshua: Please elaborate.
Claire: Not to bash on Togetherness (big fan of Duplass squared), but it's so discouraging as a young couple to watch two people's marriages fall apart. What do we have to look forward to, exactly? And that's not unique to that show at all. It's sadly the standard portrayal on any TV show that centers around couples with kids. Catastrophe gives marriage more of a Modern Family treatment. It shows how two people can be serious but still have fun and be in love. Sharon and Rob are each other’s best friends, and, as we see many times over the course of the season, serious lovers. I also should note here that I'm a big fan of rom-coms, and this one is like one long one that doesn't end badly—and where scenes aren't completely contrived.
Joshua: That's interesting. I think for me, I've been married for seven years and have two kids, the show is much more bittersweet. Like, "Man, I wished our relationship was always that good-natured." I asked my wife to watch it with me and she said she thought they were bad actors, especially Delaney, and we didn't speak for a few days.
Claire: Well, we'll see what transpires seven years down the line. Marriage is hard work (or so Gillian Flynn tells me), so I have no doubt things will start to get real once the baby arrives.
Joshua: Speaking of babies, the latest episode had a subplot about Down Syndrome, and how the chances in a geriatric pregnancy of having a child with a chromosomal abnormality are increased. I thought it was handled really well. And it is not something at least that I've seen discussed in pop culture. In this case, it wasn't glib or melodramatic. It is just a difficult topic. One of the things that draw me most to the show is how the writers (in this case Horgan and Delaney) are okay with leaving something open ended and difficult. Also, I think—having been through two pregnancies—I also related to Sharon's feeling of "why does everyone else get an easy pregnancy?" Of course, it is my wife who was pregnant but still, that stuff affects the father too, though he is often loathe to discuss it.
Claire: I read that Horgan went through a similar situation in real life, so it’s not surprising that it’s such an honest portrayal.
Joshua: Yes, it doesn't feel like a thing that can be so fully realized if one hadn't.