Catastrophe: “Getting Knocked Up by a Stranger”

(Episode 1.01)

TV Reviews
Catastrophe: “Getting Knocked Up by a Stranger”

Catastrophe is a hilarious new sitcom that strays far from the cliché and lures us in with brilliant dialogue, superb characters and a top-notch cast. Written by Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney, this show explores the comically dramatic consequences of a brief affair.

One-night stands with complete strangers can go either way: they might turn out to be the best, most intense and “free” sex you’ve ever had, or they might turn into massive disappointments following a steamy make-out session in the club. In the case of London-based Sharon (Horgan) and the visiting American Rob (Delaney), it turns into a three-night stand that ends… well, catastrophically. But let’s rewind.

When Sharon and Rob find themselves at the same bar, desperately trying to attract the attention of the same busy bartender, they get to talking. Sharon has come to fill up on some margaritas, but all Rob wants is a coke. Someone drinking a non-alcoholic beverage in a club would come off as a bit of a shock to any citizen of a nation notorious for their pint-loving and gin-slurping habits. Fortunately, Rob is quick to explain his sobriety and his reason is understandable: anyone in their right mind would quit drinking after shitting their pants at their sister’s wedding. While this may be an entertaining anecdote, most women would have been likely to move Rob from the “potential” category straight into the “friend-zone.” But not Sharon; apparently, she feels rather drawn to this big, honest Yank and his sensitive bowels. Moments later they’re at it, hot and heavily when, for a split second, Sharon has a bit of a revelation:

“I’ve never had casual sex with a sober person before.”

Alas, her yearning genitals and Rob’s hairless back don’t give her the chance to over-think the situation—she and Rob just go for it (rogue pizza slices and all). But we all know that the new-found confidence that increases with every glass of a Margarita decreases with every pulse that sends a pounding to your head the following morning. Sharon is no exception. When Rob wakes up to her attempted sneak-of-shame, she doesn’t get too awkward about it, just cracks a joke and is ready to move on. She’d obviously not given the idea of seeing Rob again much thought, so when he asks her out for dinner that same night she’s pleasantly surprised, if not confused.

It’s a nice little moment Sharon ruins by telling Rob to open the window because his room stinks. There were a few chuckles leading up to this scene, but this moment in particular made me feel as though I was starting to really get to know the characters. As difficult as it may be given Sharon’s blunt and seemingly confident demeanor, it starts to feel like we can see through her shit: She’s using ye ol’ bitch-tactic to distract from her actual insecurities. Rob’s character doesn’t seem to have that added layer—he really is that honest, goofy and gentle guy we assumed him to be at the start of the episode.

They spend the next three days before Rob’s departure in a very… uh… physical manner, and their goodbyes consist of him praising her for her “magical ass,” and her describing him as a “sturdy love-maker with a massive chin.” Fast-forward 32 days later and Rob is back in the US and in the middle of chatting up a young blonde when he gets a call from “Sharon (London Sex).” Because yes, she was seriously saved on his phone as Sharon (London Sex). I have to admit it made me wonder whether there’s always been a bit of Barney Stinson in Rob, or whether his spontaneous sex-holiday had just given him the confidence needed to suit-up and try the Playbook way of life. But that whole idea blows up as a result of their phone conversation. Because, if you couldn’t predict this from the episode’s title, guess what? Sharon’s pregnant.

“I don’t know what you do when you get pregnant by a stranger. I don’t know the etiquette!”

Yeah, I don’t blame you, Sharon. I don’t think there is an etiquette, but there must be some kind of breed of decent men out there who are happy to make one up as they go along, because Rob is one of them. On the one hand, he’s entirely overwhelmed by the news, but he’s also ready to drop everything and come to London almost immediately. When he arrives at the airport, Sharon sheepishly awaits him holding up a sign that reads “Rob ?” which leads them to discover that his last name is Norris and hers is…. Morris.

“Morris and Norris. Well at least that’s fucking ridiculous.”

That’s not the worst of it, of course. Not only are they having to deal with the weirdness that is this entire situation, they’re also having to wrap their heads around vaginal dysplasia, a pre-cancer that’s “sort of next door to cancer” and the thought of a “big headed son scrubbing its way” out of Sharon’s vagina. And the whole time it feels like, wow, Rob is such a trooper! He’s being really supportive, acting like some long-time, whipped boyfriend and only loses his cool when Sharon’s uptight, show-off non-friend Fran (Ashley Jensen) tries to convince him of her homeopathic remedies. However, by this time, Rob has already won over Fran’s strange husband Chris (Mark Bonnar), who advises him to stay as faaaaar away from the actual birth as humanly possible:

“You see a little troll come tobogganing out of your wife’s snatch on a wave of turds and part of you will hold her responsible.”

So much for easing Rob into fatherhood.

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