Hair, Bare & Care: Why 'Catastrophe' is More Important Than 'You're the Worst'
I love You’re the Worst, I do. Let’s just remember fondly how much we miss Jimmy (Chris Geere) and Gretchen (Aya Cash), and how September can’t come fast enough.
Oh god they’re glorious. But they don’t matter, really, because there isn’t a single consequence to anything they do. It’s lovely and pathetic and heartwarming and sad all at the same time, but these are people who are still in their salad years, when career mistakes and attitudes and awful boyfriends are all forgivable. These are usually called “the twenties,” and only a few things can take the sparkle out of Never-never Land. Like war, sickness or a baby. They have none of that. They’re just floating in a world where they haven’t had to settle. Where they haven’t had to re-adjust their expectations. They still think they can have it all, and maybe they can….I mean, jesus, look at the way they sparkle! Look at that skin that gravity hasn’t got a prayer of tugging at yet. My god, it’s just pure bliss. Pure, miserable, bliss.
Sharon (Sharon Horgan) and Rob (Rob Delaney) don’t have those luxuries on Amazon’s Catastrophe. There are real consequences for every choice they make. They’re longer in the tooth, seasoned by life, emotionally tougher and yet more fragile in a way. The stakes are naturally higher as you get older, and as you do you can really feel a disaster, where as Jimmy and Gretchen can weather one by virtue of just distracting themselves by attending empty parties and just kind of patting the area around their navels. Which is flawless.
Sharon and Rob don’t have that luxury. Those years are gone for them. They wish they had a problem like to “day after pill” or not to “day after pill.” They wished they could wake up in the sunny melancholy of fucking Los Angeles every day. I’ve lived in Los Angeles and if it’s not the easiest place in the universe to live that’s because it’s been barely nudged aside by San Diego and Scottsdale. But Sharon and Rob? They’re in London. Lon. Don. You can probably smell the ass end of the port if I gauge Sharon’s income near to where a teacher’s salary might get her. This is incomparable. An Englishman in L.A. is a thing of everlasting intrigue and handsomeness. And a novelist, no less? That’s the actual recipe for free sex. Some of my best friends are L.A.-based Brits and you have to scrape the Nebraskan aspiring actresses off them like barnacles. But an American mid level advertising executive in London? Ha! That’s a creature of unseemly derision. A fucking yank. A stupid fucking cowboy.
Jimmy and Gretchen can afford to be out of touch with their feelings because they have like a decade left to work them out. But Rob and Sharon have already wasted that ten years and they’re stuck with those feelings, which are now permanent, and they have to mash them up and put them in an experimental transatlantic relationship machine and see if shit plays out positively. For once.
I know, I know. One dassn’t shovel shade anywhere near Aya Cash’s character, but the fact of the matter is that Gretchen is cynical and entitled and young. Bad young. Where youth is wasted. Give Sharon Horgan’s character three months with Gretchen’s troubles and well, actually, she probably already had those troubles and fucked them up as well. But now she’s older, and there’s less time to get it right — whatever that means, and find some meaning in all of it — whatever that means, and see if there’s something powerful and beautiful in the midst of this lonely void we call life.
And can I just give a shout out here to Rob Delaney? God, I love when hard working people make it. I used to go watch this dude give these free stand-up shows at Bar Lubitsch in LA with a cohort of other struggling comedians on Wednesday nights and I would go specifically for his act, which was more or less him reading his hysterical Twitter feed. And I would think “I can’t believe this dude is performing his Twitter feed. That shouldn’t ever work.” But it did. Because he had charm and presence and honest to god charisma.
And now he has this amazing show and he’s like fuck all these guys…
…I’m not shaving a goddamn hair on this beautiful body. I want to jump out of my seat like Meryl at the Oscars whenever I see his body. Because this is how a man’s body looks. Yes there are some dudes, like three of them total, who have no natural chest hair, or have like gossamer peach down that you can only see at magic hour when the sun hits it right.
For the rest, it’s this ritual of shaving and waxing that, yes, accentuates their muscle tone, but has made the acceptable male image over the last two decades or so drift perilously close to androgyny. Or like pre-pubescent little boy-ness. Yuck. Come on, fellas! Be dudes! Some of you have Mediterranean lineage! Your hair grows from your forehead to your ankles in one long curtain!
It’s reminiscent of the Gina Barrisano speech in Beautiful Girls:
“Let me explain something to you, OK? Girls with big tits have big asses, girls with little tits have little asses. That’s the way it goes. God doesn’t f—k around, he’s a fair guy. He gave the fatties big, beautiful tits and the skinnies little, tiny niddlers. It’s not my rule. If you don’t like it, call them… Oh, guys, look what we have here. (She picked up and looked at a Penthouse Magazine) Look at this, your favorite.Oh, you like that?…Yeah, that’s nice, right? Well, it doesn’t exist, OK. Look at the hair. The hair is long, it’s flowing, it’s like a river. Well, it’s a f—kin’ weave, OK? And the tits, please! I could hang my overcoat on them. Tits, by design, were invented to be suckled by babies. Yes, they’re purely functional. These are silicon city. And look, my favorite, the shaved pubis. Pubic hair being so unruly and all. Very key.”
You want that deep, dark Oscar Isaac affect? Great. The price is a man who exists naturally in a full body hair suit. Any man, with hair that thick? He’s like 46% wookiee. Don’t ask him to be Lord Varys. He’s a muskrat. Deal with it.
And modern men, don’t have negative body hair hangups! Don’t shame your immigrant grandparents by marinating your chest with that 64 oz bottle of Nair! Be yourself. Be real! I’m not saying some dudes don’t look better with a shaved chest. I’m just saying it shouldn’t be ALL DUDES. Because once upon a time, these motherfuckers were the hottest thing in the universe.
And some modern guys are fighting the razor. I mean, a superhero! If Superman can do it, everyone can do it.
And on Catastrophe we have this blessed man. Just look at this.
This is a man! He’s got back of the arm hair and front of the arm hair. He gets a five o’clock shadow the second after he shaves, like Homer Simpson. He has thigh hair and neck hair and armpit hair. Just look at that armpit hair! It’s bountiful! It’s joyous! It’s like Captain Caveman under each of his arms and it’s divine. I’d have Rob Delaney’s armpit hair over for Thanksgiving dinner if that was a thing. Those bad boys should have their own Instagram account.
But he’s REAL, people! He’s real. And his character of Rob reflects that and damns you to care. He’s confused and wounded and even though life has taught him some hard lessons, he’s found the most beautiful thing of all, the thing that squashes the foolishness and childishness of cynicism every time: hope. And Sharon has found it with him, no matter how tough their relationship feels sometimes. Together, the nervous hope and hard-won experience of Sharon and Rob gets my nod over the youth and cynicism and nearsighted, selfish, emotional protectionist agenda of Gretchen and Jimmy every time. Because once you accept the person you are, you can finally start becoming the person you hope to be.
These are both great shows and to some extent, they both suffer from the same malady, which is that whenever the two main characters aren’t on the screen just interacting with each other, the quality of the material nosedives. The relationships are so compelling, the supporting casts just can’t possibly stack up. That being said, watch Catastrophe, people. It’s six episodes. You can do it in a night. I mean, watch them both, obviously, but watch Catastrophe.
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