Sharon Horgan talks Rom-Com on TV vs Film and the Hopeful Tone of ‘Catastrophe’
With her background as the star and creator of Pulling, as well as her other work British TV shows, Sharon Horgan has become a recognizable face on British television; however, her latest show Catastrophe marks her first with an American audience. The Channel 4 / Amazon Studios co-production dropped its entire second season earlier in April, picking up years after the drama of the first season, with Rob and Sharon (the show’s co-creators Horgan & Rob Delaney share first names with their characters) married and struggling to raise two children. Both seasons of the Catastrophe are not only hysterically funny, they’re warm and optimistic in a way that runs counter to many cynical, modern TV comedies.
In her short interview with Way Too Indie on the red carpet for Catastrophe‘s panel at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, Sharon Horgan discusses the advantage television has when developing romantic comedies, the importance of making a show that was more than just gags, and why it’s better to just laugh at Rob’s jokes on screen.
Romantic comedies in film haven’t been quite as popular this decade as they were in the past; however, the first season of your show Catastrophe, as well as several others on TV right now, function as really successful romantic comedies. Do you think romantic comedies function better in that episodic format rather than in film?
I guess it does but it’s also easier to make a romantic comedy because you’re not pandering to a huge audience. I think a lot of romantic comedy in film is aimed at a massive audience, so you’ve got to tick a lot of boxes and please a lot of people. The only people we had to please [on Catastrophe] were ourselves.
Also, we never thought about it as a romantic comedy so we weren’t trying to fit it into a formula. I think that can sometimes be the problem with romantic comedy in film. It has to hit all [those] beats.
We had an easy job. I think it’s harder on film but it’d be fun to have a go.
You and Rob Delaney have a delightful chemistry on the show, even small details like laughing at one another’s jokes really illustrates the healthy dynamic between your characters as a couple.
Yeah, I mean it is a bit of a cheat because it’s easier to laugh when someone says something funny on film than not laugh. But also, the big thing about the characters and why they like each other is because they find each other funny. Any romance or relationship is generally – apart from sex – based on someone who makes you laugh.
We thought it was really, really important that even in season two, even when they’re in the deep quagmires of marriage that they still made each other laugh. It just felt like more of an honest representation. I don’t think anyone tells anyone a joke in real life and they meet it with a frozen face.
But that is something you’re consciously making sure is a part of the dynamic?
Sure, but also it’s easier to do it that way. It’s easier when Rob says something funny to just laugh.
Your characters face adversity, different ups and down on the show, but it retains a hopefulness throughout. Was that something you wanted to be part of Catastrophe from the onset or did that come from writing the show?
It was really important from the outset. I think we both got to a point in our lives where we felt like we didn’t just want to make a show with a load of gags. We wanted it to be saying something and to hit all those spots. So that people who are watching feel that we’re invested in them and therefore they’ll invest in us. None of it’s easy. Having kids isn’t easy. Being married isn’t easy and we kind of wanted to tell people that things can be ok. All these terrible, shitty things can happen to you but there’s quite often a light at the end of the tunnel, and you’ll get through it.
I think comedy is just such a brilliant medium for that. It’s so great to be able to talk about serious subjects through making people laugh.