“I don’t want to be the right thing. I want to be a choice.”
Sharon delivered this devastating blow while she and Rob, newly-married, are supposed to be in post-wedding bliss. Instead, they use every piece of ammo they have amassed over the last nine months of being together. He makes her feel terrible, she’s consistently pessimistic.
She’s the right thing. She’s not a choice.
Other things happened in this episode — the bachelor/bachelorette party disasters, a wedding ceremony — but they did not matter, because it was that epic meltdown of a fight that mattered. The stag parties were fine diversions to what was clearly supposed to be the episode’s climax. Sharon is abandoned (“Say goodnight to the vapist”). Rob is alone by choice because everyone else his bachelor party is so horrific, save Mark Bonnar’s Chris, a character I initially found off-putting (which was intentional) but really grew to enjoy over the series’ six episodes. The wedding itself was quite perfect. I was dreading some sentimental outpouring of love, especially as Rob took it up upon himself to read his own vows, a ridiculous speech that concluded in “Fuck menus.” Weird? Totally. But it was perfect for Sharon and Rob.
But then there’s that major Graduate moment, when they’re sitting in the back of the limo and song ends and everything hits at once. The build up is over. Back to normal life.
Everyone starts with good intentions: “You’re my wife, you’re pregnant, your toenails are a hate crime. Instead of having sex, I’m going to cut your toenails,” Rob says. It wasn’t until I read Entertainment Weekly’s recent interview with Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan that I noticed that Rob and Sharon never say I love you to each other. They certainly show each other in a lot of ways that they are a good, strong couple, but when it comes down to it, there have only known each other for a short time. It’s something they often mock (“You can ask him, but you barely know him,” Sharons says about Rob asking Fergal to be his best man. “I barely know you,” he says) but it’s also frighteningly true. There’s one look Sharon gives Rob where it looks like she’s just about to say it. She cocks her head and looks at him lovingly and instead offers him sex. Of course, she does, that’s what their relationship has been based around since the beginning and one of the more refreshing aspects of Catastrophe. Despite her pregnancy, they still enjoy being with each other.
But then comes this fight. Over and over, I’ve talked about how this show feels like such a natural reflection of comfortable relationships. Fights are are about the growing pains of dealing with a person who has the same quirks and annoyances that, as much as you like them to, will likely never change. Fights can start situationally, but when it boils down it, they’re about the same things we dislike in our partners, just under different circumstances. It feels like heightened drama in the moment, which Rob acknowledges. “Are you shitting me?” he says in anger. “This isn’t a fucking soap opera.” In the moment, the melodrama is completely necessary. Rob’s reaction of immediately regretting everything he’s just said so entirely perfect as well. Each side escalates, trying to best the other in viciousness, until the fight explodes and each side figures out that they did not mean what they’ve said to each other. Rob, without meaning to, confirms all of Sharon’s fears. She’s not who he is supposed to end up with, she is who he has to end up with. Delaney in particular was great in this scene, acting with an angry forcefulness, and giving Rob layers that had otherwise been absent from his otherwise genial performance.
This is a show about how hard relationships are. Sharon and Rob may have come together out of odd circumstances, but they are still together, experiencing these universal problems that extend beyond this happily ever after narrative. Their meet-cute was essentially a meet-fuck. Their happy ending turned into a fight. Their lives are not perfectly, the course of true love is not running smooth This wasn’t Catastrophe’s best episodes, but Catastrophe is still one of the truest shows about relationships. Thank the rom com gods season two is being written. I need more Catastrophe.
- Sharon is definitely still listed in Rob’s phone as Sharon London Sex.
- Fran’s face when Kate shows up to the wedding is so great and why I love Fran. See also: “It’s actually a short song but but I think it’s very fitting.”
- Entirely off-topic, but Kate is played by Eileen Walsh who is in this fantastic movie called The Magdalene Sisters that is totally heart-breaking.
- “I can’t believe it has taken me 38 years to realize my mother is a shit bubble.”