Roush Review: ‘Catastrophe’ Gets an Almost Fairy-Tale Ending, ‘Shrill’ Is Understated Comedy
Season 4 Premiere, Friday, March 15, Prime Video
Love means always having to say you’re sorry in the messy, raunchy world of Catastrophe, which is coming to an end far too soon with its fourth bitingly funny yet emotionally turbulent season. Over the years, what began as a lusty London fling between a Yank lad and an Irish lass has developed, thanks to an accidental pregnancy, into a marriage that may yet stand the test of time. If they don’t kill each other first.
Rob spends the first episodes of the final season in a neck brace, an emblem of his sheepishly repentant nature, atoning for an alcoholic relapse and car accident. Sharon, so testy in attitude that one of her primary-school students would rather wet himself than confront her, is there for grudging emotional support.
“It’s like he’s on a crusade, but to somewhere boring, and we all have to come,” she gripes to Rob’s visiting Quaker sister (guest star Michaela Watkins). Have they considered therapy, a friend wonders. “We don’t really want to hear our terrible problems out loud,” Sharon explains.
And yet their pain, manifested in family tragedy and fractious arguments about career and sex, brings us vicarious pleasure as Rob and Sharon wound, then cling to each other out of shared need and a desire to make the other happy. A final image in the six-episode season shows both literally swimming against the tide, but together — which is as close as Catastrophe gets to a fairy-tale ending.
Series Premiere, Friday, March 15, Hulu
She ain’t heavy, but Annie is most definitely complicated. And shrill? Only when pushed, and she usually regrets it later.
Saturday Night Live‘s marvelous Aidy Bryant brings warmth and a zen grace to a role that’s still a work in progress after only six episodes. Fed up with being fat-shamed as she develops her voice as a journalist in Portland, Oregon, Annie learns to stand up and demand dignity from an immature jerk boyfriend (Luka Jones), her tyrant boss (an overly stereotyped John Cameron Mitchell) and, climactically, a vile and profane internet troll — whose identity is a spoiler.
Not so much strident as honestly imperfect, Annie is also a great friend (to fabulous roomie Lolly Adefope) and a good daughter to an ailing dad (Daniel Stern) and passive-aggressive mom (fellow SNL vet Julia Sweeney). Thankfully, this understated comedy rarely lives down to its title, and unlike AMC’s similarly themed, and doomed, Dietland, never lapses into baroque dark fantasy. Please, Hulu, renew Shrill and give us more of Annie to discover.