My wife and I had a ball watching the first two seasons of the Amazon comedy, Catastrophe. I don’t think I could have put my finger on just what makes it so much more satisfying than your average network sitcom, although I enjoyed it much more than, say, Big Bang Theory or Modern Family. But after a few episodes, I think my wife figured it out.
They laugh at each other.
American boy Rob (Rob Delaney) and Irish girl Sharon (Sharon Horgan) have a torrid affair while Rob is in London on business. The affair results in pregnancy, and Rob and Sharon decide not only to have the child, but to get married. Blend in a number of wacky characters with ties to our newlyweds – Rob’s druggie pal Dave, Sharon’s helicopter mom frenemy Fran, Carrie Fisher (yes, Princess Leia) as Rob’s eBay-addicted mother – and hilarity ensues.
Really, this isn’t any different than any meet-cute scenario for any rom-com. What makes it work is the chemistry of Delaney and Horgan, who are also the show’s creators and writers. They will frequently hurl insults and curse words at each other, and as the scene develops, you’re never sure if they’re going to end up enraged or humored by the whole situation.
And Rob and Sharon do laugh. At each other. It’s not the typical deliver-the-funny-line, keep-a-straight-face sort of banter. It’s the laugh of two people who are intimate, sometimes laughing at things only they think are funny. It’s genuine, sometimes painfully so.
I can’t imagine this is for everyone (there’s a ton of cussing, some nudity). But Catastrophe is greater than the genre it represents if you’re willing to go along for the ride.