Catastrophe, Channel 4 - review: An enjoyably rude romcom that's safer than it thinks it is

Will Catastrophe help ease thirtysomething adolescents into a much-deferred maturity or scare them off it entirely?

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Let's begin by getting the obvious out of  the way: Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan, the stars and co-writers of Channel 4’s new sitcom are both  good-looking and, which is worse, much funnier than good-looking people have  any right to be.

In Catastrophe, they play "Sharon" and "Rob", characters clearly based on themselves, who embark on a steamy shag-a-thon that is unexpectedly extended into a proper relationship when Sharon discovers  she is pregnant. Their respective real-life partners should both be awarded bravery medals for standing stoically by and allowing this series to happen.

But we’re not marriage guidance counsellors, we’re only TV viewers, so back to the show itself, which is enjoyably rude, just like Horgan’s excellent single-life sitcom Pulling, or the tweets that built Delaney’s comedy career. In Catastrophe, however, the stakes are upped by the imminent responsibility of parenthood. Rob and Sharon are growing up, whether they like it or not. What remains to be seen is whether Catastrophe will be the sort of show that helps ease thirtysomething adolescents into a much-deferred maturity, or scares them off it entirely.

I’m betting on the latter. During a pre-natal appointment, the doctor informed Sharon she also has a "pre-cancer" called cervical dysplasia and Rob did his best to  be supportive: "Doctor, you have said cancer rather a lot, like more than you would hear in a casual conversation that isn’t about cancer." Then the pair found themselves cornered into attending an extremely awkward dinner party hosted  by Sharon’s detested frenemy Fran  (Extras’ Ashley Jensen).

Fran’s partner had a memorable way of warning Rob not to be present at the birth: "You see that little troll come tobogganing out of your wife on a wave of turds – and part of you will hold her responsible."

Unpleasant, sure, but Delaney and Horgan’s script still somehow manages to find the romance in their situation. Which is why none of it really qualifies as a "catastrophe". They’re both nice people, they both want a baby, now they’ve got a baby. So, really, what’s all the whinging about?

Comments