Catastrophe works because it’s able to transpose these very normal couple problems onto an extraordinary situation. Sharon and Rob are forced into intimacy by unexpected pregnancy, but in a way, that happens in every relationship. We go from being a party of one, to being two almost instantly and there are certainly speed bumps when it comes to learning how to dedicate time together. The opening scene, where Sharon asked Rob to leave so she could lounge on her own bed, by herself, with her full closet entirely intact was incredibly real. There’s a discomfort in forced intimacy when solitude is what is sought. Rob doesn’t have a life outside of Sharon. He’s in a new place with no friends and so he clings to the one familiar thing he has: her. And it’s driving her crazy.
This scene was important because it once again demonstrated how different these two people are, and how they are not just dealing with their all of a sudden completely overturned lives, but dealing with how to navigate each other’s personalities. There have been other shows that have used the tension between British-style (I know Sharon’s Irish) and American outlooks to comedic effect but Catastrophe, like its entire premise, deploys it quite sweetly. Rob is so intent on keeping this rosy outlook: They will get married, he will stay in the country, and everything will continue to be okay. But Sharon continues to waffle. Can she do this on her own? Should she do this on her own? Everything is terrible because it has to be. But she’s not entirely happy until Rob loses it. His plan has been ruined. His ring has been pissed on. He doesn’t even know if the woman carrying his child wants to marry him. That’s when Sharon decides she’s all in. He thought about wanting to be with her beyond a work visa (although, wouldn’t his agency have gotten that all cleared up for him?). Losing hope is what solidifies it for her, not simply his mean frittata-making skills.
I’m not used to a run as short as Catastrophe’s because, well, I’m American and I like my sitcoms stretched out over long periods of time even when they probably shouldn’t be. But one of the better parts of this episode is how gracefully the show is able to expand its world without creating an episode that feels overstuffed. Melissa, Dave, Mia, Dr. Harries (Outlander’s Tobias Menzies!) and, Fergal are all given establishing scenes and time to breathe as characters. The script makes it immediately known who these people are and how they fit into Sharon and Rob’s lives. While Fergal and Melissa fit squarely into the tone of the show, Dave (Daniel Lapine) was of particular interest. Considering this is a show initially geared toward a UK audience, it was hilarious to see this portrayal of the classic American douchebag. He’s loud and brash, carrying a yoga mat and espousing the dangers of gluten. Lapine was great, his accent not so much, but I’m sure this is how British people feel when, like Gwyneth Paltrow attempts their diction.
Okay, Carrie Fisher, let’s talk Carrie Fisher because she is the best. Her character Mia bucks the trend in so many ways. Namely in that she is the opposite of being this traditional doting wannabe-grandmother. She’s the type of woman who calls her son a fucker for not following her advice and counsels him to skip town and leave Sharon in the lurch, much like her own husband did. Without another friend to serve as a devil’s advocate to Rob’s unstoppable positivity about his own situation, Mia serves that position well. She is more like Sharon than she knows. Mia and the rest of the characters demonstrated how no one but Rob is really pro this situation. Well, we are too considering I’d like to keep watching this show continue on.
- Speaking of scenes that are all too real: Sharon longingly looking at Melissa’s cigarette was also spot on. Former smokers know what I’m talking about.
- I love Melissa almost as much as I love Mia. “If I had a baby every time I got pregnant… y’know what I mean?”
- “Have you seen the new deputy head? Tell me you don’t want to squat on his face. You won’t be able to do that if you’re married” “Yeah, I will, it will just be harder.”