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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Catastrophe closes out a stellar second season

Illustration for article titled Catastrophe closes out a stellar second season
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“The only person I can show this fanny to is you.”

Catastrophe has this incredible ability to take the unsexy and the unromantic and turn it around so that it feels sexy and romantic. Take the fight in the first episode of this season where Rob says if Sharon touches him, he’ll scream. It’s a warning that leads to sex. Something similar happens when Sharon and Rob are trying to reconcile. Her body is wrecked from pregnancy, she couldn’t have possibly had sex with anyone else because she would be embarrassed to get naked in front of anyone else. But she can be naked in front of Rob because he’s the person she’s most comfortable with, he’s the person who went through two pregnancies with her. That’s what a lot of this episode is about: the allure and the benefits of the comfortable. Is it so bad to put aside fights and anger in favor of the comfortable long game? “I don’t want to be alone” is not the type of declarative, romantic statement that would make its way into Romeo And Juliet. But it’s so similar to the one they had in bed on their anniversary in which they discussed that cheating is too difficult that they might as well just continue with their relationship.

There’s a cynical way of looking at this episode, that it’s depressing that we might as well be miserable in the service of being comfortable. Continuously, people tell Rob and Sharon that being apart is not worth the assumed happiness they’ll gain from being apart. Sharon has two kids and isn’t as young as she used to be. The same could be said for Rob, and the allure of strange isn’t enough to keep you warm at night, as Chris tells him. “You have all these plans for your life post-marriage but then you remember you’re pushing 50 and the Sky football package is quite competitively priced.” But that’s on the surface of it all. It’s apt that Chris and Fran are the ones giving Sharon and Rob advice on the topic because they were no longer comfortable enough to deal with the discomfort. Christ and Fran might not think their separation is worth it now, but in the moment they weighed that being unhappy and together was worse than being potentially happy and alone. In the moment, Rob and Sharon decide that mid-level happiness with the partner of their choice is better than the alternative. But, like complaining about the price of another apartment in the city, it’s just a way to mask that they’re saying and that in itself is romantic.

This discussion about fannies is in the eye of the storm. After Rob tells Sharon what happens, she kicks him out of the house, angered in part because of the accusation, but also because he opened up the cracks in their marriage to someone else. Because Olivia saw those cracks, she was able to widen them. Why she decided to be the most evil human in the world — other than perhaps embarrassment, which seems quite the harsh punishment from a woman who was so incredibly confident in her come on — is still never touched upon. But her evilness draws out an important issue for Rob and Sharon: Their marriage may have ups and downs, but the threats were always internal. If anyone was going to break them apart, it would be them and their own issues, and not someone else.

Both Rob and Sharon react to their time apart by going back to who they were before they met. They both start to party. Rob drinks from the minibar after resisting all temptation at Dave’s house (pro tip: Googling “Is alcoholism a myth?’ is never a good sign for a recovering alcoholic), while Sharon flirts with a younger man, potentially sleeping with him in the process. They’re rebelling against the warnings given to them by Chris, Fran, and Fergal by doing the exact opposite of what they had been told to do (get back together). Rob wants to make sure his life is still interesting and exciting and not just about watching football with a depressed Chris, so he opens up the minibar and gets hammer. Sharon wants to make sure she’s still desirable even if she doesn’t want anyone to see her fanny.

Frankly, I loved where they ended this season. Sharon and Rob lull us into this false sense of comfort. They’re back together and everything is fine. This episode will end in a sweet way. Even after Rob finds the receipt for Plan B, there’s a chance he may let it go in favor of being comfortable. But instead, right before the show cuts to black, Rob’s face contorts like he’s about to blow up once more. Those moments, the marital bliss into the marital strife, is exactly what Catastrophe is about. Sometimes it’s great, and sometimes it’s really fucking terrible. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it for those in between times.


I was pleasantly surprised by this season of Catastrophe, after believing that it was not possible to live up to the first, one of my favorite shows from last year. Those ideas felt so new and so fresh that I didn’t think that a second season could match the first. And while I enjoyed the first more as a whole, the second was excellent in its own right, building off the ideas of the first, while forging its own paths and themes. Bring on season three.

Stray observations

  • I didn’t even get into Dave here because he’s always been a problematic character for me. I can’t sympathize with him being in a coma because there’s been no reason for me to care or like him. The same could be said for Chris and Fran because their entire characterization revolves around them being unpleasant, but at least they’re funny when they’re unpleasant. Dave existed in this episode to make sure that Rob stayed sober after his first bender, and, to me, that’s about it. Perhaps Sharon puts it best: “Jesus, I don’t want him to die. I mean because I quite like him but he also made me feel better about me.”
  • “I didn’t sexually assault anyone.” “I know you didn’t and even if you did, it doesn’t define you, it’s just the thing you did.”
  • The face Fran makes when her boyfriend starts massaging her shoulders
  • “Ok, OJ. C’mon! You put a down payment on an affair, you dish-faced American twat.”’
  • “Not everyone has to like you. You’re not a puppy, you’re an adult man with a wife.”