He's a goofy American businessman, she's a self-deprecating Irish teacher. They meet in a bar, enjoy a six-night fling, then part ways, agreeing to remember one another as "an extraordinarily good-smelling woman with a magical ass" and "a sturdy love-maker with a massive chin".
Then catastrophe: she's pregnant.
They deal with the situation pragmatically: he'll up sticks from New York, move in with her, propose. She accepts. This is the set-up for new Britcom Catastrophe, (Thursdays, 9.30pm SoHo), a comedy made for the UK's Channel 4 that puts a refreshing spin on an age-old idea. Stars and co-writers Sharon Horgan (who wrote the British sitcom Pulling) and Rob Delaney, (a United States comic who found fame in Britain on Twitter) play versions of themselves, adopting a blunt style of humour that relies on rude repartee.
In the hilarious first episode they bonded over their mutual hatred of a stuck-up homeopath, talked sex (and the body parts involved) and got into the nitty-gritty of the birthing process. The homeopath's husband warned Rob to stay away: "You see that little troll come tobogganing out of your wife on a wave of turds - and part of you will hold her responsible."
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Thankfully, it offsets its dirty mind with a sweet story - but not so sweet you need a bucket. This odd couple have found just the right balance between crude laughs and heartfelt drama, a tenderness growing within their awkward budding romance without the need for canned laughter, an overbearing soundtrack or PDA.
Still, it's a limited premise, and quite where this series is heading now that they're engaged is anyone's guess. It appears that the conflict (and laughs) will mostly come from the newly engaged couple rubbing up against the opinions of her friends and family (he has no friends, she tells him, to which he agrees). Part of the fun is meeting these awful people. There's that homeopath, played by Scottish actress Ashley Jensen (Extras, Ugly Betty), who invites the couple to dinner when they bump into each other at a cafe.
"She seems nice," says Rob.
"She's a c***," Sharon replies.
Then there's her brother, the antithesis of their messy situation, with his perfect life: three kids, pretty wife, stone-cold personality. Even Carrie Fisher shows up, playing Rob's potty-mouthed mother. Despite their youthful predicament, both of the characters are older - their ages aren't divulged but she's 44, he's 37. She is told, at an early pregnancy scan, that it looks like she has pre-cancer, not the funniest of topics, but one elevated by the doctor's sing-song diagnosis and Sharon's incessant ruminating afterwards. Although the second episode didn't live up to the laugh-a-minute pilot, it's certainly no catastrophe. This is one rom-com worth keeping an eye on.