There’s something about the crudeness of the C4 comedy series Catastrophe that is insanely addictive. The storyline? There’s nothing new in this, we’ve seen it in countless romcoms/sitcoms and soaps – young couple hook up, get pregnant, get hitched and have up-down relationship with unhelpful contribution from in-laws … yawn … roll the credits and quirky theme tune.
Catastrophe, though, is different. Its situations and dialogue are as sharp as a mouthful of Tangfastics; you’ll screw your face up for sure; you won’t entirely be sure you’re enjoying it, but once you’ve savoured its unique mix of sugary humour and acerbic one-liners, you’ll willingly go back for more.
The show is a brutally honest examination of modern relationships, sex, careers and superficial lifestyles and its first run was one of the unexpected hits of 2014.
Executives at Avalon, the production company behind Not Going Out, will be happily clinking champagne glasses at the success of the show. Having won universal praise from UK critics, the show was equally well received by US audiences on Amazon Prime – so much so that the VOD platform has bought the second season (prompting C4 to broadcast earlier than the scheduled New Year spot they had planned).
The second season has found the dysfunctional child-ensnared couple of Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney in fine form dragging gutter humour up to a new level with pithily observed banter and some brilliant set pieces.
Their relationship has leapt forward a couple of years and, pregnant again, they are sinking into the suburban morass of comfortable home, children and pets – “It’s what I’ve always wanted, apparently,” says Horgan.
It’s a line that on one hand encapsulates society’s expectation of women and on the other an example of the deadpan sarcasm that snakes through every episode. The beauty of Catastrophe is that allows its main characters to be flawed, potty mouthed and unlikeable … in a very likable way.
Horgan and Delaney bring a natural chemistry to the lead character, which they scripted themselves, avoiding all of the tired old clichés and end-of-episode moral resolutions. There is some very well written and beautifully observed comedy in here and far from suffering second season syndrome it revels in dealing with difficult issues such as postnatal depression and unemployment and making the viewer laugh. No second series let down here then, catastrophe averted!
Catastrophe broadcasts on C4, Tuesday at 10pm or on Catchup.