Catastrophe Review: “If Normal Courtship is a Dance, Ours is a Heart-Attack or a Seizure”

(Episode 1.02)

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<i>Catastrophe</i> Review: &#8220;If Normal Courtship is a Dance, Ours is a Heart-Attack or a Seizure&#8221;

As if making a relationship happen in less than twenty-five minutes isn’t difficult enough, writers and Catastrophe protagonists Horgan and Delaney up the ante by getting thrown into the most tumultuous of all overnight courtships. I think we can all agree that they’ve managed to do so beautifully, because here we are one episode later, still surprised by the load of happenings and the welcomed crassness of our anti-romantic couple—all in the course of less than twenty-five minutes. Forgive the repetition here, but I feel I really have to lay this on thick: This does not feel like a twenty-minute sitcom; this feels like a solid forty-five minute special.

With Rob officially having set up camp in Sharon’s tiny teacher’s salary apartment, she’s starting to feel the inevitable consequences of their instant relationship. The episode opens to her brushing her teeth in her night shirt and undies, watching Rob sleep in her bed. In another show, this would be some kind of cheesy moment, complete with ladida music and a dreamy look on the woman’s face. But that’s not what I saw; there may not have been an immediate sense of panic in her eyes, but you could definitely make out the what the f*ck have I done look in her expression. The more she busies herself getting dressed and ready, the more you can sense an unease, a quiet frustration. It’s clear that she is dealing with a mild attack of claustrophobia, even before she asks Rob to go for a walk. Alone. For an hour, or, you know. Half the day. The poor guy hasn’t even gotten out of bed yet and he’s already being kicked out. On top of that, he’s been living out of his suitcase; Sharon hasn’t really wrapped her head around the idea of sharing her space yet, to which Rob incredulously but very rightly replies,

“You’ll let me put my penis in your mouth but you won’t let me put some t-shirts in your drawers?”

Touché Rob, touché. I do feel for him; he hasn’t been anything other than supportive, ridiculously sweet and considerate, and yet it always feels as though he’s getting the shit end of the stick. Then again, one can relate to Sharon too. There she was enjoying single life and closet space, and one three-night stand later, she’s having to suddenly get into this new package deal: a strange soon-to-be husband, an unborn baby, not-cancer and swollen feet. And we get a whole lot of emotional back and forth from Sharon in this episode. She doesn’t really want to get married just because of their whole undignified situation, but she does kind of want to get married, exactly because of that reason.

Rob tries his best to cheer her up, in spite of what his friend—yes, Rob has a “friend” in London—may think. His mother has been calling him insisting in rather rude ways that he give up on this crazy idea of playing happy family with a “foreigner,” and his friend David (Daniel Lapaine) suggests he indulge in a bed-hopping lifestyle instead. Sharon’s friend and fellow teacher Melissa (Sarah Niles) tries to talk her out of a quickie marriage and suggests she try her luck with the new principal because, you know, who wouldn’t want to “squat on his face.” Her brother Fergal (Jonathan Forbes) initially shows no interest in Rob whatsoever. While he’s equally confused by the idea of his sister’s impending marriage, he seems to have a rather technical and business-like attitude towards love, marriage and children. He sees his own kids as an investment, seeing as they have braces and stuff they’re actually “worth money.”

Fergal does seem to warm to Rob a little when he asks for his advise in choosing a ring and, after an embarrassing mistake, settles for the cheaper, less vulgar option. And you know what? I think he made the right choice there. It may be less extravagant but then who wants a $25,000 responsibility on their ring finger? I know I don’t. And apparently neither does Sharon. She’ll gladly accept a ring soaked in a drunken strangers’ piss.

To end this review on a note as weird as the central relationship of this show: I believe Sharon’s (dirty, sexy) laugh at Rob’s mortified reaction at the semi-conscious woman pissing all over his proposal made me fall in love with her a little bit. Is that weird?

Roxanne Sancto is a freelance journalist for Paste and The New Heroes & Pioneers.She’s the author of The Tuesday Series & co-author of The Pink Boots. She can usually be found covered in paint stains. Follow her on Twitter.