Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

TV: Catastrophe

51xQydvfhDL._SX940_Who: Rob Delaney & Sharon Horgan; creators, writers & stars
What: “Rom-com” series
Where: Amazon Prime
When: First Season (6 eps) premiered in June 2015
Why WatchThe Funniest Person on Twitter, Rob Delaney, and the “Tina Fey of British TV,” Sharon Horgan (Pulling), met on Twitter and decided to collaborate on a series drawing from their individual experiences as spouses and parents. Catastrophe follows Irish teacher Sharon and Boston ad exec Rob as they have a drunken seven-night stand in London from which she becomes pregnant and he moves across the pond to “make it work.” The premise sounds like a British Knocked Up, but this series is smart – and way more realistic. No saccharine rom-com, Catastrophe is a brutally honest and incredibly funny depiction of a relationship’s ebbs and flows – more Richard Linklater than Judd Appatow.

The show portrays mature (read: adult, non-twenties) relationship that’s put through some very serious stuff, the best – and funniest – of which revolves around Sharon’s pregnancy. Any woman over the age of 30 will relate to the increasingly absurd insensitivity of 41-year-old Sharon’s doctors who off-handedly refer to her “geriatric pregnancy,” nonchalantly diagnose her with cervical dysplasia (“It’s a precancer. … It isn’t cancer. But it’s sort of… next door to cancer.”), and – whoopsies! – mess up her risk of having a child with Down Syndrome. It’s so funny because it’s both a horrifyingly accurate depiction of an extremely lacking bedside manner (which I can thoroughly relate to) and the increasingly dismissive attitude toward women as they age. This is solid-gold stuff, and Delaney and Horgan are wickedly funny and raw in their portrayals. There’s also hilarious commentary on adult friendships and relationships with parents. So, you know, if you’re not an “older” woman, you can relate too.

Bechdel Test: PASS

  • Two named women…: Yes. Sharon’s friend Fran (Ashley Jensen) and Rob’s mom Mia (Carrie Fischer) being the most significant.
  • Who talk to each other…: Yes.
  • About something besides a man: Yes… but barely. Sharon’s conversation with her mom is half about Rob and half about being pregnant. It’s kinda a thing on the show that neither Rob or Sharon really have friends, but Rob certainly interacts with men about non-relationship issues more than Sharon engages with other women (or anyone, about anything, really).

Racial Bechdel Test: FAIL

  • Two named people of color…: No. Sharon’s Black co-worker, Melissa, is the only named person of color (although, I’m not sure Sharon ever actually calls her by name…). All others are essentially background actors – specifically, her young students who are very diverse, but again, are just background.
  • Who talk to each other…: No. Melissa only talks to Sharon in one episode; in another, she essentially acts as background at a birthday party.
  • About something other than a white person…: N/A.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on January 20, 2016 by in TV and tagged , , , , , , , .



%d bloggers like this: