CATASTROPHE is a Channel 4 and Amazon Prime show. It’s created by, written by, and stars American comedian Rob Delaney and Irish writer-actress Sharon Horgan. It was nominated for a Peabody Award and Delaney and Horgan won a BAFTA for Best Writer: Comedy.
The first episode of CATASTROPHE opens with an American businessman (Delaney) in London on a work trip. He meets a primary school teacher (Horgan) at a bar. Weeks later, she reveals she’s pregnant.
He flies back to support her, vowing to stick around, especially when the doctor tells them the pregnancy needs close monitoring. When Rob proposes marriage, he has to deal with Sharon’s friends. She in turn has to ingratiate herself with his sceptical family while both are still getting to know each other.
Delaney describes the central relationship in CATASTROPHE as different to that of a traditional sitcom:
We didn’t feel we had seen a marriage represented in a sitcom in a way we found wholly satisfactory so we wanted to make one. Those marriages you see in sitcoms – in real life they would end in a murder-suicide. We don’t want to moralise. These guys learn and grow – they even hug, I noticed – so we’re not opposed to that. We’d just never want to telegraph it, or wrap it up cleanly. We definitely want to end each series with a question mark rather than a full stop. We like loose ends.
CATASTROPHE has proved a hit with audiences and critics, with a fourth and final season set to air in early 2019.
It’s a show with the episode length of a comedy (25 minutes) but CATASTROPHE often mines serious, dramatic issues, often drawn from the creators’ own lives.
Dramedy is a very fine needle to thread, but one Delaney and Horgan manage effortlessly. Any writer attempting a dramedy would do well to study their example.
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