It’s messy, funny, and totally relatable for parents – here’s why you should watchCatastropheon Netflix.
Audiences may know Sharon Horgan best for more recent hitsBad Sisters, MotherlandandDreamland, but it was the 2015 hit Catastrophe that helped put the Irish actress and writer firmly on the map.
Joined on screen by US comedian and co-writer Rob Delaney, the two play an unconventional couple who come together after a transatlantic fling ends in an unexpected pregnancy.
The series originally aired on Channel 4 and proved to be one of the broadcaster’s biggest hits, garnering rare, rave reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and audience figures of 1.4 million per episode.
Its new home on Netflix gives the opportunity to gain a new fan following who’ll undoubtedly be taken in by its ‘warts and all’ humor and honesty.
Catastrophe – Five Reasons to Watch
1. Dealing with Life’s ‘unexpected’
Audiences first meet their protagonists in a hustling and bustling London bar. Rob offers to buy Sharon a drink, but one thing leads to another and before you know it the two are back in Rob’s hotel room getting better acquainted.
The two meet again for dinner the next night and an arrangement shortly ensues.
Simple, straightforward forward, and perfunctory – the plan is six days of casual sex in London, before Rob returns to Boston and Sharon remains in the capital.
A fling with a final date is attached. What could possibly go wrong?
Of course, this is where their story really starts, with Sharon phoning Rob 32 days later with a pregnancy announcement. Rob uproots his bachelor life and returns to London indefinitely, with both parties willing to give a relationship a go.
The unplanned pregnancy is the first of many ‘hiccups’ the couple encounters in the show’s timeline.
Work upheaval, extra-marital temptations, and Rob’s battle to stay sober are challenges the couple also have to overcome and it’s done through an authentic and at times, darkly comic lens.
In an era of social media, striving for that picture-perfect harmonious family life online – and mentally berating ourselves when we fall short – it’s nice to see an accurate reaction and representation of ‘shit hitting the fan’. Arguments occur, fear gets in the way and time out is often needed.
Horgan and Delaney are two flawed characters that make stupid choices and at times present as unlikeable – isn’t that what being human is really all about?
2. The Highs and Lows of Parenting
Screaming kids, sick kids, kids that walk in on you having sex, kids that hurt other people’s kids at school – it’s all covered in Catastrophe.
The ‘reality of kids’ moments is plenty, but the show does dig deeper into the universal parenting experience too.
Season one is clever at introducing the audience to Rob and Sharon as individuals before parenthood come along and brings about change.
Both continue to struggle with their new identity and in one poignant scene, Rob tells Sharon how he’s found it difficult to transition from being a single man living in Boston to a married father living in London.
It’s a moment that’ll make any parent feel seen.
Sharon meanwhile battles with the other “zombies” at her mothers’ group, making fun of their holier-than-thou behavior, whilst simultaneously berating herself for not feeling included.
She befriends one group mum who seems to share her alternative mothering attitude, but is later embarrassed when said ‘friend’ labels her as “needy”.
It seems that Sharon can no longer deny that parenthood has changed her. “I hate myself”, she mutters to herself, alone, whilst mindlessly scrolling on her phone and attending to her child.
It’s these darker moments carefully intertwined with funnier events and conversations (one noteworthy one about their son’s “little penis”) which reflect the full parenting picture.
Yes, raising kids is hard, physically and emotionally, but somehow you find your feet, and persevere through it – one laugh and wobble after the other.
3. Romantic Relationships Post-Children
Family, children, and parenting are all key components of the show’s success – but if you scrape that all back, you’re left with the two reasons you started watching the show in the first place – Sharon and Rob.
We see the couple’s sexual activity inevitably decline after welcoming their children and it affects both parties.
There’s a romantic trip to Paris booked that doesn’t quite go to plan and one or two external sexual opportunities presented which could rock their foundation.
Their trust in each other gets tested and the passion dwindles – sound familiar?
When a well-meaning relative tells the couple to put parenthood before marriage, Sharon and Rob are quietly appalled. “Who doesn t want to take care of their kids?” Rob tells his wife in a later scene. “You d have to be a monster not to want to do that.
“But this? Maintaining this,” he says of their relationship, “this is the slog.”
4. Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney
It’s Catastrophe’s leads that keep you coming back for more. Rob is likable, hopeful and one of those striving to be a nice-guy type, that slips short on occasion. Sharon is defensive, takes no s***, and caring at heart.
She’s a 21st-century woman with expectations, seeking satisfaction through her professional, personal, and sexual endeavors. And she doesn’t feel the need to apologize for that.
Sure they sometimes make choices that make you want to punch a cushion or recoil out of stringiness, but on the whole, they’re incredibly likable and relatable.
They’re real people who face real problems, and it’s this that makes you believe in them and the show.
5. Parent-Friendly Episodes
We get it. Raising tiny humans leaves many times poor. Whilst you could commit to a 24-episodes-per-season, multiple-series blockbuster show, it’s going to take time (years) to get through.
Catastrophe has four seasons, six episodes in each, all averaging around 25 minutes in length. Horgan and Delaney clearly knew the drill when delivering Catastrophe: quick, bite-sized chunks of light, reflection, and laughter.
And once you’ve finished season 4 – a longing for more.
Series 1-4 of Catastrophe are now available to stream on Netflix.