TV

‘Catastrophe’ gets more serious in season 3, but don’t fret, it remains hilarious

“Catastrophe” season 3 begins streaming April 28 on Amazon
“Catastrophe” season 3 begins streaming April 28 on Amazon Amazon

“Catastrophe,”

the freshest comedy of the past few years, begins its third season April 28 on Amazon (after a run on Britain’s Channel 4). Those who have not yet seen previous seasons are to be envied: Rewatching half-hour episodes from those seasons bears pleasures, yet nothing compares to one’s initial contact with the electric-yet-cozy chemistry between leads (and series co-creators) Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan.

In season 1, American businessman Rob (Rob Delaney) meets Irish teacher Sharon (Sharon Horgan) in a bar in her adopted hometown of London. After a mad week of many laughs and more sex, he returns to the U.S. without plans to see her again. But she discovers she is pregnant, and he moves to London so they can make a go of parenting and perhaps, love. Rob tells Sharon his father was not around, and he wants to be.

“You don’t have to be so American about it,” Sharon tells Rob the third or fourth time he announces his honorable intentions. Though Sharon’s words chastise, Horgan’s eyes twinkle. In Season 1, Sharon points out how she barely knows the man trying to fold his tall, burly frame into her one-bedroom flat and her life. But she’s also a bit delighted at this unexpected turn of events – being pregnant in her early 40s, and sharing the experience with a fun, chivalrous guy.

British television veteran Horgan and stand-up comic Delaney met on Twitter, where he has a big following. They are married to other people. Neither had a big success before “Catastrophe.” (Though Horgan went on to create HBO’s “Divorce,” which is not nearly so good.) Perhaps it takes reaching middle age to write a show as appealingly lived-in and honest as this. Sharon and Rob try to be a family – instead of co-parenting without partnership – because they already work together so well sexually and have been around long enough to know how rare that is.

The couple spares no detail in describing how that magic happens. But they also just enjoy each other’s company. Rob defuses uncomfortable situations with jokes that make Sharon erupt in laughter. It is infectious to see someone crack up instead of adopting the typical sitcom smirk. Watching this happen in the first two seasons helps tip us off in season 3 that things have grown more serious: Sharon’s laugh can seem forced. Though each season contains just six episodes, there is a significant arc to the series that befits its sped-up central relationship.

Carrie Fisher played Rob’s caustic mother in the first two seasons and embodied the source of her son’s humor as well as the cynicism he now rejects. Fisher died in December after finishing filming season-3 scenes. The scenes must occur late in the season – she did not appear in four episodes availed to critics for preview.

Catastrophe

Season 3 begins streaming Friday, April 28, on Amazon

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