I used to pride myself on my ability to be current, on top of trends. I feel like I’ve been saying this for years, when it likely refers to a stretch of years from 2008-2010. Back when I’d moved away to the small town of Rotorua, population 60,000. Before I had things like an active social life, a lengthy commute and a girlfriend. I could spend the evenings scouring the internet for fresh new TV shows, albums, video games. Also, because I scarcely slept, I could watch these things in the same night. From around 7pm until 2am every night, seven solid hours of me time.
I don’t do this any more. I can’t. I have friends in close proximity (rather than two hours’ drive away), a live-in girlfriend and a 50 minute commute (instead of a five minute walk) each morning. At some point through the years between then and now, I also discovered a causal link between my frenetic nature and sleep deprivation. Adding to this mess is the proliferation of content driven by greater internet presence. There’s too much goddamn stuff out there and I’ve got no hope of remaining current without forsaking those aforementioned important aspects of my life (people). That’d be a full time job (albeit one I’d probably enjoy).
Which is to say, these days I’m often late to the party. Even when I get there, it’s often because I’m led by friends telling me how I’ve been missing out. FOMO is a mean, effective motivator. Funny, I talk about not having enough time, then lay a fuckton of pipe to get to the point. The point is, the show Catastrophe is many kinds of great.
A 2015 Amazon Prime show, Catastrophe is a relationship based comedy about an Irish school teacher (Sharon Horgan) falling unexpectedly pregnant to an American businessman (Rob Delaney) after his trip to London. Geez, I could’ve described this better. It’s not like he arrives, looks at her and she’s all “HOW DID A BABY GET IN MY BELLY? GET IT OUT!” She calls him months later when he’s back home. Anyway, he comes back to London and the show picks up from there.
I understand if, based on that brief blurb you’d start questioning both my recommendation and sanity. It’s not a super compelling or original premise for a show. It also has that shaky camera style that for some reason is seen as a representation of grounded content. It’s more “real” or something. It also means I go from normal to borderline vomiting within ten seconds. HOW EXPENSIVE OR HARD TO USE IS A FUCKING TRIPOD? Anyway, I’m still not selling it well. I watch it from a bed a couple of metres away from the computer screen. That helps
Why watch it then? Because the show is gut-wrenchingly funny (or maybe that’s just the shaky camera playing with my innards). I’m not the kind of person who often watches shows alone and laughs out loud, but Catastrophe has that rare quality. Both Horgan and Delaney are hilarious, throwing quips and witty non-sequiturs back and forth. The dialogue is fantastic, but it wouldn’t go anywhere without solid chemistry. Despite misgivings about the “real” camerawork, the show is grounded and believable. So many sitcoms have a habit of feeling contrived or needlessly amping up a scene for greater impact. Catastrophe doesn’t put situations outside the realms of believably, letting the fantastic writing do the heavy lifting instead. Seeing Rob and Sharon together puts you totally on their side, deeply hoping that things will work out.
Thing is, the characters are so well defined that there’s realistic conflict. All the time and on resonant tensions like job stress, money, wavering libidos, shitty family, birth fears and postpartum depression. They argue, more and more viciously as the show pans out (it really hits its stride in s01e04). They’ll yell and tear each other down. They’ll also, within the same conversation, joke and de-escalate, apologise. Like actual human beings who are on the same team, they love each other deeply and don’t really want to leave one another. They’re surrounded by interesting, diverse supporting characters, many of whom are hugely flawed. It’s non-judgemental and sex positive too. Being a British show, there are only six 23 minute episodes in a season (two so far), so it’s easy to dive into.
I slept on this one, but you no longer have to. Have you got five hours? In that case, you certainly don’t have an excuse.