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Josh Reviews Catastrophe Season Two!

May 24th, 2016
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I absolutely adored the first season of Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney’s Catastrophe, so of course I quickly moved on to season two.  Thank goodness, it’s just as brilliant, hilarious and absolutely filthy as season one.

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For those of you not in the know, Catastrophe tells the story of Sharon and Rob (fictional characters although they are played by the creators who have the same first names), who hook up for a weekend of passionate sex when Rob is in England on business.  When they discover Sharon is pregnant, Rob decides to move to England and he and Sharon try to make a go of being a couple.  The first six-episode series chronicled the nine months of Sharon’s pregnancy.  It was an extraordinary delight, fall-on-the-floor funny and with a level of blunt raunchiness — pulling no punches in its depictions of the realities of sex and pregnancy and everything that comes with both of those things — that made me quickly fall in love with it.

The very first scene of the first episode in season two is playful in terms of misleading the audience as to when this second series takes place.  But since all the promotional images for the show depict Sharon and Rob with two kids, I don’t think I’m really spoiling anything by saying that this second season, in a somewhat surprising move, takes place several years after season one.  Their first child is a few years old already and, in the first episode, Sharon gives birth to their second.  I praised the first season of Catastrophe for many reasons, one of which was that I loved how quickly they moved through the nine months of Sharon’s pregnancy, rather than doing what many American sitcoms would do and milking the show’s set-up for years.  Here again I applaud Ms. Horgan and Mr. Delaney for having the courage to move the show, and its characters, forward by several years so that we can see how they have developed and so the show can tell different stories here in series two.

Season two expands the focus beyond Sharon and Rob.  Many of the show’s supporting characters, most particularly Chris (Mark Bonnar) and Dave (Daniel Lapaine), get some interesting development here in season two.  The show is suddenly unafraid to spend time with these characters when they are away from Sharon and Rob.  It’s an interesting development, and one that I enjoyed, even though it led to a few more somber moments (as both men struggle mightily with their loneliness) that interrupted the show’s fun.  But I enjoyed this broadening of the show’s horizons.  These story-lines also seemed to indicate that Mr. Delaney and Ms. Horgan are envisioning future seasons (which is very good news).  Season one was pretty much a perfect, complete entity all its own.  But here in season two, it felt like some of the side stories weren’t brought to a conclusion yet, and were left to continue in a future season.  As long as that future season eventually arrives, I am totally fine with that.

As with season one, the show is impressive in how it manages to tell very honest, truthful, sometimes painful stories all wrapped up in a show that is very consistently hilarious.  In addition to the just-mentioned story-lines with Chris and Dave, we also see Sharon struggling with her initial failure to connect to her new baby and her lack of any peer mom friends, Rob’s flame-out at his work, and Sharon and her brother coming to grips (sort of) with their father’s failing faculties, among other story-lines..  The chaos that ensues in episode three when Sharon forgets to bring her breast pump along on a trip is a situation likely well-known to most parents, and yet I don’t think I’ve ever seen that scenario depicted before on a TV show!  The latter half of this season goes into the darkest places the show has yet gone, as Sharon and Rob’s relationship hits the skids, Rob falls off the wagon, and Dave makes some terrible choices.  This second series is somewhat messier than season one, with perhaps a bit less of that season’s perfect balance of humor and drama.  But it all still works for me.  I admire the bravery of some of the story-telling choices here in season two, and I like these characters so much by this point that I’m willing to follow the show down these narrative paths.  And Ms. Horgan and Mr. Delaney are sure not to let too many minutes pass in any episode without an absolutely killer joke.

And that’s critical to the show’s working as well as it does.  Don’t let anything I wrote in that last paragraph fool you into thinking that Catastrophe season two is not extremely hilarious.  There are many spectacular moments here in season two.  Everyone’s difficulty pronouncing the Irish name (Muireann) that Sharon gives to their second child.  Sharon and the “momzies,” and Rob’s tremendous comeuppance delivery to the woman, Samantha, who friend-breaks-up with Sharon.  Everything in the office with Rob’s staggeringly evil company and his wonderfully deadpan boss.  (I love how she gives him a big raise following his attempt to quit in episode two.)  All the shots of Rob’s reading Goebbel’s Diaries.  Sharon’s dance to attempt to prevent herself from getting pregnant again after she and Rob have sex in Paris.  Everything with Carrie Fisher (who is once again brilliant as Rob’s horrible mother).

The whole ensemble from season one is back here in season two, and they’re all terrific.  (After this season’s spotlight on Chris and Dave, I’m hoping we see more of Sharon’s crazy brother Fergal (Jonathan Forbes) in season three!  I feel like that guy has a whole universe of nutty story-lines happening right next door to Sharon and Rob’s stories that we’ve been following in Catastrophe so far.)

As with season one, season two of Catastrophe ends on a great cliffhanger, one that succeeds in feeling like a satisfying ending to the season as a whole, while also leaving me absolutely mad with anticipation to see a third season of the show.  I love the British model of super-short, six-episode seasons, but the downside is that I want lots more Catastrophe!!  I burned through the twelve episodes in existence (two seasons/series of six episodes each) WAY too fast!

Bravo to Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney and everyone else involved with this magnificent show.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you check it out on Amazon Prime without delay.

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