It’s still months until the second season of “Transparent,” but if you’re not putting that Amazon Prime subscription to use binge-watching “The Americans” — because you’ve already seen it all, right? — “Catastrophe” might be your new jam. The series, whose first six-episode season hits Prime today, stars Rob Delaney in his first post-Twitter role as an American ad man named, well, Rob, who engages in an enthusiastic six-day affair with Irish schoolteacher Sharon Horgan while on a trip to London. Unfortunately, condoms were in short supply, and she ends up pregnant, pulling him back to the U.K. and setting them on a path to awkward romance and uncomfortable doctor’s appointments. Sharon, you see, is past 40, and, as her doctors are fond of bluntly reminding her, well into the period where the risks associated with childhood shoot way, way up. One specialist announces that Sharon has “precancer,” a condition the doc assures her is not serious while still using the word “cancer” as often as humanly possible.
The comedy in “Catastrophe” is dark, but, as critics agree across the board, it’s winning, as is the potent chemistry between Delaney and Horgan. At barely three hours, the season goes by quickly — too quickly — but it will leave you yearning for more.
Reviews of “Catastrophe”
Margaret Lyons, Vulture
Amazon’s new six-episode series “Catastrophe” is a powerfully charming rom-com in all the best ways (including being British). It’s also an example of how little premise good comedy actually needs: Specificity, yes; joy, yes; charisma and wit and smarts, yes. He’s Rob, she’s Sharon. And that’s kind of it. Go. “Catastrophe” can be biting and certainly naughty, but there’s a thread of hopefulness in it, too, a sense that falling in love isn’t some miracle; sometimes it’s a decision you can make and be happy with. I liked this show so much I cried. It made me that happy.
James Poniewozik, Time
For starters, “Catastrophe” is one of the best extended TV treatments I’ve seen of the simple, practical, physical facts of pregnancy. At the same time, “Catastrophe” is a charming story about love between two grown-ups that doesn’t heighten its drama with a lot of artificial roadblocks. Rob and Sharon seem compatible from the start and–here’s a twist!–they are, sharing a ribald and irreverent sense of humor. Preparing to have a baby gives them a challenge to adjust to, but not in the typical way, where the clueless guy learns to grow up and his uptight girlfriend learns to trust him and they become responsible adults together. Horgan is likably acerbic, and comedian Delaney is laid-back in the kind of role comics will often play as antic and freaked-out.
Pilot Viruet, Flavorwire
The entire first season of “Catastrophe” premieres on Amazon (for Prime members) on Friday, and it’s a fast but thoroughly amusing watch; I’d planned to check out only the pilot but finished the show in one sitting, immediately charmed by this new relationship and the series’ honest — and explicit — dialogue. “I don’t know what you do when you get pregnant from a stranger!” Sharon exclaims at one point, after telling Rob the “good” news. Later, when he proposes to her, she reacts in disbelief because she doesn’t know anything about him: his middle name, whether he can ride horses, if he’s ever been “fiddle[d]” by a priest.
Ken Tucker, Yahoo!
Delaney, who has a million-plus following on Twitter for his genially blunt punchlines, and Horgan, who’s well-known overseas for a Brit-com called Pulling, make for a wonderfully charismatic yet astringent duo. As Rob and Sharon, they’re cheerfully lewd and crude, yet also intelligent, witty, and kind to each other. They are a rarity among lovers in sitcoms: mature people who don’t spend a lot of time leering at other attractive people or engaging in trumped-up, banal, ooh-you-forgot-my-birthday squabbles. The pregnancy forces a fast-forward in their relationship — they don’t get to (or have to) go through all the getting-to-know-you, deciding-we’re-ready kind of thing we expect to experience in real life or in entertainment depictions of having a baby.
Mike Hale, New York Times
Mr. Delaney and Ms. Horgan, as writers and actors, are able to make most of the serious moments believable and bearable, even touching (though the twist ending of the season finale feels like a miscalculation). And while the show’s humor, alternately subtle and pummeling, doesn’t always click, each episode has its moments. “Catastrophe” has a couple of different comic styles — a dry British realism and a more showy American jokiness, exemplified by Rob’s habit of talking like a stand-up comedian trying out material — that it doesn’t always meld successfully. But it’s more important that Ms. Horgan and Mr. Delaney appear comfortable with each other on screen, and by and large they make us care about Sharon and Rob’s far-fetched romance.
Amy Amatangelo, Hollywood Reporter
More than anything, the show, written entirely by Delaney and Horgan, is laugh-out-loud funny. Rob has Sharon listed as “Sharon (London sex)” on his phone. When Rob insults homeopaths only to learn that Fran is one, he deadpans to Sharon, “You could have told me that in my pre-dinner briefing.” Somehow the show even makes Sharon’s diagnosis of a pre-cancerous condition hilarious.
Molly Eichel, A.V. Club
Because “Catastrophe” is working on a short six episode run, there’s little chance for dilly-dallying. That’s great in the sense that we’re not wasting time on meandering episodes just to fill a run, but it also squishes events that would normally be played out over several episodes into one. How long has Rob been there by the time they go to dinner? Perhaps, I only find this a problem because I want to spend more time with these people, to watch them interact even more. That’s not a bad problem to have. “Catastrophe” is a wonderfully sharp entry into the rom-com genre, one that does not always work on TV.