Catastrophe: “God is Like the Best Friend of the Lazy Parent”

(Episode 1.04)

TV Reviews
Catastrophe: “God is Like the Best Friend of the Lazy Parent”

Sharon and Rob have had quite a few things to suss out in a very short time period. They seem to have found their groove where their home life is concerned; whenever they have their moments on the couch of their dim-lit living room, you could almost be fooled into believing these guys have been together forever. But they haven’t, and unfortunately they are now having to rush into settling on parenting ideas, and the pros and cons of a religious upbringing. Rob thinks christening a baby is a load of rubbish; however, he’s down with a naming ceremony. Sharon’s response is clear:

“That is a bullshit California yoga retreat load of bullshit and my parents would kill me.”

So much for that, then. Hearing Rob and Sharon fight it out over who would make the better godparent—some random Irish writer or Fergal, who is “not technically an adult in the eyes of the church”—is pretty entertaining, unlike the decisions they are confronted with for the remaining episode. After a tense and awkward Meet-Sharon’s-Parents, Rob and his wife-to-be find themselves back with the doctor who makes House look like a cuddly teddy bear. He has called them in to inform them that a combined test has shown that their child has a one in fifty risk of being born with Down’s Syndrome.

“Well, Christ! One in….What are you? A sadist? […] Why did I need to know that?”

Sharon storms off in such a rage she almost forgets her knickers. She feels completely and utterly defeated, when all she really wanted was to embrace and enjoy her pregnancy. Now, every time she sees a happy pregnant woman, she feels like punching her in the face. Fair enough. Rob is worried sick about her when she storms out of the doctor’s office and commences on a thirteen mile hike to Camden. When she finally gets back to the apartment, she voices all the concerns she has about raising a disabled child and, suddenly, no matter how funny the dialogue remains throughout the show, nothing about it seems comedic anymore. We’re talking real-life, big-deal decisions here and we’re trusting a couple that has been together for like, ten minutes, to make them. Listening to Sharon contemplate what life would be like as the parent of a disabled child, their relationship impetuously becomes very real.

During a romantic-looking brunch consisting of carrot cake and a view of the Thames, Rob shares the news with Chris. Chris, whose delicious slur of a Scottish accent excites me time and again, becomes even more appealing when he shows his scruffily soft side. As it turns out, he’s rather a good mate to Rob; however, he is expecting the unspeakable of him in return. Chris’ overbearing and stuck-up wife Fran has found receipts of their regular “din-dins” and has accused him of having an affair. He finally had to fess up to his man-dates with Rob, despite her feelings towards him after an infamous walnuts-being-shoved-up-assholes argument. The only way she can possibly agree to their new friendship is by talking things over with Rob himself. Suffice to say, Rob himself is not in the least bit excited by this idea and makes a meek attempt at talking himself out of it, even using bad timing as an argument, when Chris cuts in:

“Don’t be a bastard! Life goes on! So man up and talk to my wife for me.”

Rob reluctantly agrees to meet Fran, who seems to have her own ideas about their reconciliation; the type that also involves a little shoving… as in, Fran shoving her tongue down Rob’s throat! What on earth made her think he could be interested in the slightest is beyond me; his boredom and indifference was written all over his face. Then again, she did seem eager to learn more about his penis, prior to the walnut-discussion. No wonder he literally ran from her.

Meanwhile, pupils are in the middle of receiving another classic Sharon-style lecture when she’s interrupted by a call from the hospital. A carefree, breezy sounding nurse informs her that there has been a mistake, the chances of her son being born with Downs Syndrome aren’t actually one in fifty. Too-long-of-a-pause. It’s one in twenty-five. When she returns back to class, all she can do is barf. Right on to the desk in front of her amused pupils, who decide she just might be drunk (after all, she did get drunk at last year’s Christmas party.) She mumbles a gagging apology (“Oh, shit, sorry”) and stumbles out.

By the time she gets to the doctor’s office, every tiny little bit of hope she had clung to has visibly drained from her face. The doctor suggests amniocentesis, which comes with a risk of miscarriage. It’s impossible not to well up seeing Sharon trying to process the most difficult decision she’s ever had to make.

“I was just trying to work out how I mentally cope with the nightmare scenario of having a needle stuck in my belly into my baby’s neck, risking miscarriage I don’t… I mean can you say something to help?”

Sharon may have had her hormone-related freak-outs, but so far she’s seemed so strong. I never got the feeling she really needed or wanted a hug, a good old girly chin-wag or simply a shoulder to cry on. It seemed like she found enough (emotional) support in Rob, but this particular moment made me realize she needed all the hugs she could get, and I honestly wished I could reach out and through the screen to her. When Sharon finally receives some good news from the hospital whilst grocery shopping, she responds by laying down on the floor, in the middle of the supermarket isle. I could feel myself breathe a sigh of deep relief with Sharon and Rob; finally this disastrous couple seems to be catching a break.

Having said that… Sharon did ask Fran and Chris to be the baby’s godparents. So there’s that.

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