Catastrophe

January 19, 2016


Infantilizing adults- and babifying the emotions they feel when falling in love, is a trick that screenwriters have been pulling since movies and television began. But, as of the 80s, the chick flick has lost much of its classic charm.

Shot full of toxic emotions, infused with moral prosthetics and corn fed on kook, the genre prays on the emotionally retarded by peddling this fantasy with a shower of whimsical notions, which make everyday courtship look like a Brothers Grimm fairytale.

Thank god then for Catastrophe, Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney’s telling of a transatlantic dalliance that results in an unexpected pregnancy. In the first season the couple shagged, scarpered, and were drawn back together by two lines appearing on a piss-soaked stick, all within the first 30 minutes. The show continued in this honest, unsentimental yet increasingly delightful way, as the lives of both parties were changed irrevocably.

It’s genre-fit, with its inclusion of baleful friends, repulsive workplaces, flaky folks (Carrie Fisher, in caustic cunt mode) and the highs and lows that comes from fusing independent souls.

It radiates in its refusal to blanch away from the truth. The cold, relentless series of medical tests they are subjected to as a result of her ‘geriatric pregnancy’ (Sharon’s over 40) is as chilling and intrusive as a speculum- particularly when exposing the language doctors and specialists used to protect themselves from litigation.

Comedy- as coping mechanism, is relentlessly evoked, where exposure to genuine care and consideration weakens the defenses of Horgans’s Sharon as the series moves on.

And it’s flagrant skipping over the usual drawn-out plot points shirks the numbing repetition of such stories. There’s no BS getting to know you nonsense here; he shuts down her suggestion the baby be terminated in a manner which is stunningly inappropriate but, also, honest. And the trials and tribulations of their situation are kept grounded by their constant shelling from self-deprecation and a life must go on mindset.

What it nails is how this couple actually come to LIKE one another. How they make each other feel good about themselves- a feat which becomes increasingly rare after a certain age. His greasing of her antagonism polishes the boards for a sarcastic foxtrot through the social niceties demanded by friends and family and their unsure footwork is all the more charming thanks to their relatable trips and stumbles.

The second series has just begun on Channel Four and if you haven’t watched the first, it can be caught up on in under three hours. No other weekend plan should take precedent.

It’s a sarky, side-eyed delight that makes for delightful company, particularly in a world where comedy has become dominated by unrelenting perk, or self-involved slogs through sexual quagmires.

Sidle off with it at your earliest convenience.

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