Twitter users may already be fans of comedian Rob Delaney’s strange mix of the nasty and the gentlemanly, which is part of the appeal of this endearingly ribald six-episode dramedy import from British TV.
Delaney plays Rob, a 38-year-old Boston advertising executive visiting London on business; he meets a 41-year-old Irish schoolteacher named Sharon (SharonHorgan) in a crowded bar and they go back to his hotel, where a one-night stand winds up lasting several energetic days. A month later, Sharon calls Rob with surprising news: She’s pregnant. Rob immediately returns to London to support her decision to keep the baby and accompany her to a series of ghastly obstetrician appointments that raise the specter of a pre-cancerous cervix and increased likelihood of birth defects in a “geriatric pregnancy.”
As odd as this comparison may sound, “Catastrophe” briefly reminded me of those long-ago Taster’s Choice commercials from the early 1990s about the neighbors who fall in love over a cup of coffee — only with about 1,000 percent more vagina jokes. It’s easy to root for a positive outcome, even though Sharon’s egomaniac friends and argumentative family exhibit plenty of odd behaviors that should scare Rob away for good — yet he’s somehow unfazed and still smitten. (Rob’s family is no joy, either; Carrie Fisher plays his Debbie Downer mother, trying to thwart romance in a series of transatlantic phone calls.)
Delaney and Horgan, who created and wrote “Catastrophe,” are a good match— both as performers and as characters. Their casual approach to impending parenthood is a notable change of pace from the predictability of rom-coms, which place an impossible premium on happy endings. This couple’s mutual honesty about sex and the body at age 40-ish makes you realize how few shows are about characters in this demographic. “Catastrophe” is going for laughs, but it also has something to say about people who’ve lived long enough to know that satisfaction doesn’t come with a perfectly tied bow on it.
In “Catastrophe,” a ribald love story for people who are too old to meet cute, Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan star as a couple whose one-night stand leads to more.