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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Catastrophe: Episode 4

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When I first started watching Catastrophe, I didn’t think it would make me cry. But here we are at the beginning of the denouement of the series and Sharon Horgan’s pained face is making me well up. (To put this into context, I’m not pop culture-based crier, unless we’re talking Springsteen concerts where I’ve been known to bawl for three straight hours.) Horgan’s performance throughout this episode was so deeply and incredibly felt that it’s near impossible to watch and not feel something. All at once in that final scene, she’s able to convey terror, uncertainty, and regret. It’s a wholly lovely performance in a gut-punch of an episode.

Catastrophe has not shied away from dealing with the more difficult sides of pregnancy. Sharon’s “pre-cancer” is not one of those things about being with child that was discussed in say, 9 Months or She’s Having a Baby, but it was still played mostly for laughs. Her diagnosis wasn’t so much a threat as something she could obsess about (not to mention provide an excellent callback for Fran and Chris’ dinner party). But the idea of having a baby who might have Downs Syndrome is quite real, and certainly not something they joke about. These issues were handled exceptionally well. Sharon’s fear is entirely based around her, and how she pictures her life. Like “Episode Three,” she only sees doors closing to her. She’s no longer the happy mother she never particularly saw herself being. She will be tied down forever. Now she’s the old woman in the supermarket who still has to care for her son.

But that’s the thing: She only saw the woman and her son in the supermarket. The look Sharon gives the mother and her young adorable daughter with Downs Syndrome at the end could be left open to interpretation, and that’s entirely due to Horgan. There’s fear there; she’s only leapt over one hurdle, there are so many variables to come. There’s also regret. How could she think this way? How could she be so scared when this mother doesn’t look like the downtrodden 70-year-old in the supermarket with her son? But there’s also a concept that is finally opening up for Sharon. Having a baby means that her life will no longer be about her. It becomes about someone else entirely and no matter who that someone else becomes, there’s an inherent bond of love there. This, once again, all derives from Horgan’s facial expressions. She has imbued Sharon with this incredible depth and it’s beautiful to see her at work.

Catastrophe is inherently about a couple and the scenes between Rob and Sharon discussing the their potential lives together with frank and singular. It’s rare to see a discussion like that on TV show. But it also led to another journey for Sharon. Despite what she says about needing Rob in her life, she’s so used to being independent that continues to act as if she is not part of a unit. I’ve said this before, but it’s such a familiar feeling that is not part of the romance narrative, in how hard it is to adjust to being a couple. But in the end, she turns to him, she needs his support. Sharon and Rob are slowly becoming a unite despite the bumps along the way. One of the best parts of this episode was when they walked to and from the doctor’s office making jokes. They are both terrified, they both have no idea what is coming, but in the end, this is how they cope and, more importantly, this is how they cope together.

Sure, other things went on this episode: Sharon’s parents don’t compare to the glory that is Carrie Fisher, and I’m sure Fran’s kiss will have its consequences (Sharon’s reaction was perfect, as we Rob’s attempt at running away from Fran’s), but these plot points are negligible in the long run. Sweetness to balance out the heavy. This was Sharon’s episode and it was an excellent one.

Stray observations

  • I love that Sharon and Rob still have a sex life and one that they seem to still enjoy.