Rob Delaney plays a character named Rob on Catastrophe. He created the show with Sharon Horgan, who plays his partner, also named Sharon. When Sharon gets pregnant with Rob’s baby after a “six-night stand,” they decide to actually get to know each other and try to raise their family. Season one ended when Sharon went into labor. Season two’s got some new surprises.
We spoke with Delaney over the phone out of New York. The entire second season of Catastrophe is available on Amazon today, free for Prime customers. Here are 12 things we learned from Delaney about the six new episodes.
Spoiler alert, but since season two has already aired in the U.K., many writers have already published this. Season two does indeed pick up with a childbirth, but it’s not quite the one we were left waiting for in season one. By the time season two begins, Sharon and Rob already have one child, and are expecting their second.
“We didn’t want to reinvent the sitcom or anything like that,” Delaney said. “It’s just that we were so curious to get into their marriage and parenting that that’s what we wanted to do. It’s just what we were most curious about.”
It turns out season one was a bonus, and this was the season they were planning to do all along. We should be grateful we got to see Rob and Sharon meet, and get pregnant the first time, because they were itching to move forward.
“We had initially thought of season two before we thought of season one,” Delaney said. “We really thought we were going to start in the middle of a marriage but then we discovered that we enjoyed watching the characters get to know each other too.”
We know Rob, Sharon and all their friends so much better. We’re invested in them and they’re invested in each other, so catastrophe is even more dangerous. “Things have higher stakes,” Delaney said. “Things hurt more. Everything comes with a higher price tag, which is always good for comedy.”
One of the jokes about the newborn is that no one can pronounce her name. I even had to ask Delaney how to spell it, and he wasn’t sure anymore. Of course it was written in the script, but even now he’s hard pressed to remember it.
“I think it’s Muirrean, but I might be wrong,” Delaney said. “It had so many Irish vowels in it that I didn’t bother to commit it to memory.”
Horgan’s real life children are lucky that Muirrean is only a joke on her TV show. One of them almost ended up with that name. “Sharon almost really named one of her daughters that because obviously she is Irish, but her husband would not sanction a name that was that difficult to pronounce,” Delaney said. “So she just knew from real life that that name could produce fireworks in a non completely Irish family, that some people would have trouble saying that.”
Even though we skipped ahead, we do get to see a childbirth on the season premiere of Catastrophe. This comes from Rob, a man who celebrated the birth of all three of his children. He also stands strong in the face of other characters who badmouth their wives giving birth.
“In season one, when Chris talks about the carnage of witnessing a birth, that was an amalgamation of things that have been said to me before my first child was born,” Delaney said. “There are men who are either cowards or misogynists or whatever who don’t recognize birth as an amazing miracle. Every time my wife gave birth, all three times, I couldn’t wait to watch. It was so amazing! To me, when a guy says birth is scary, he’s more talking about himself than he’s talking about the birth process. In another world I would be a male doula if anyone would hire me. I know they wouldn’t so it’s not going to happen but births are f—ing cool and I like seeing them.”
Catastrophe makes it funny, with Rob trying to comfort Sharon through the process. Delaney is realistic about his role in childbirth. He considers it a privilege but doesn’t fool himself.
“I said that I enjoyed being there, which is true,” Delaney continued. “I’m very grateful to be able to witness three births in pretty rapid succession, but I definitely also felt very useless. I think a man’s title in the birth theater should be Secretary of Female Comfort, just doing the best he can — which is not going to be very good — at making his partner comfortable. And understanding that you take a backseat to the doctor, the nurse, the midwife, the doula. Do the best you can. It won’t be very good and that’s just how it is.”
Pay attention to a scene in which Rob and Sharon use the bathroom simultaneously. It’s very quick but Rob is sitting on the toilet, reading a very specific book. The title alone will make you laugh out loud.
“She had said earlier in that episode that he likes to read about Hitler while he’s on the can,” Delaney said. “I think that’s probably both of us. That’s one of our favorite jokes, that horrific sight.”
When Sharon jokes about fantasizing about Jon Hamm, Rob has a quick retort. He says Hamm’s teeth are too small. We hadn’t heard about any criticism about Hamm’s teeth, and wondered if this was a meme somewhere. It’s not. Delaney made it up, and he doesn’t even believe it himself.
“I think the character of Rob is just trying to divert some attention away from a heartthrob back to himself,” he said. “He fixates on the teeth for some reason, just because I think details are funny. There’s nothing wrong with Jon Hamm. I often fantasize about him. I’m in love with him.”
Dave (Daniel Lapaine) is in a really good place when season two begins. He’s sober and in love, but different views on sobriety eventually cause a rift. This one never happened to Rob or Sharon, but he imagined the possibilities out of his own experience.
“We just wanted to imagine people who were uncomfortable with themselves and the way they were living their lives, or facing or avoiding their own challenges and extrapolate,” Delaney said. “Those are imagined for us. Yes, I am sober and I know a lot of other sober people so that one was easy to imagine.”
Chris (Mark Bonnar) and Fran (Ashley Jensen) are split, so with newfound freedom, Chris reveals his outside-the-box sexual fantasies. Once it’s out there, you can be sure Chris goes all the way and explores it.
“Chris just always has seemed so exotic, the way Mark Bonnar plays him, that we just wanted to see him explore some alternative lifestyles,” Delaney said. “Because he just makes everything look so elegant and sexy and dangerous, we wanted to have him be in a situation where he wasn’t comfortable and was vulnerable. It certainly wound up being fun to watch, for us anyway.”
It’s bad enough Rob has catastrophe at home, but he’s got to be careful at work too. A new colleague named Olivia (Emmanuelle Bouaziz) seems fun at first but she could get him in serious trouble later.
“Things can happen in work situations or just out there in the world where people might flirt with you a little bit,” Delaney said. “We thought it’s probably best, if you’re in a monogamous relationship, to steer clear of that type of stuff. We thought we would give Rob the problem of indulging in it a little bit for fun, but then realizing even that can come with a cost. We wanted to make Rob squirm.”
In the U.K., the first two seasons of Catastrophe aired within a single year. On Amazon, they made it just in time from June 19, 2015 to April 8, 2016. That was a lot of work for Delaney and Horgan, so they are taking some time to plan their third season.
“We didn’t take any time off between one and two so we’re taking a minute between two and three to kind of live a little bit,” he said. “We don’t want to force it, but I’m beginning to imagine what season three could be.”