Three of my favorite “dramedies” have concluded, or are in the process of concluding their final seasons. All three are fairly raunchy with a lot of sex, bad language and dysfunctional people but I am sad to see them go and have no replacements for them (please bring back Fleabag for a second season so I’ll have at least one). If you haven’t seen them, take a look as these 30 minute combination comedy/dramas which don’t take much time to binge.
Catastrophe (Amazon Prime) S4 ♦♦♦♦♦
Catastrophe dropped its final 6 episodes (30 minutes each) this past weekend and while this last season isn’t quite as good as the first, it is a satisfying conclusion to a really great series. Take a moment to watch the entire 4 seasons if you haven’t seen them. It is less than 12 hours of your life. Not a bad investment!
This “dramedy” began when Rob, an advertising guy, meets Sharon, an Irish schoolteacher, in London and they have a lot of sex. Sharon gets pregnant and Rob decides to stay in England to parent the child and they are thrown together raising kids, moving from one catastrophe to the another along the way. Throw in another kid, Rob’s alcoholism, the death of parents and the result is a show that delves deeply into the nature of love and just how tough marriage can be. Along the way, we get many classic and brutally funny lines and situations. Sharon Hogan and Rob Delaney wrote and starred in the series and they are a force to be reckoned with. I really hope they do another series.
The three-hour final season leaves Rob and Sharon in a relatively good place which is as good as it gets for this couple. I really want and need more episodes though. There certainly is enough meat to these characters to warrant at least 8! Catastrophe first premiered at a time when several other similar shows appeared like You’re the Worst (also currently airing its final season), Casual and Togetherness but Catastrophe is arguably the best of the bunch. It has a fine supporting cast that comes together well over the four seasons. As an aside, Carrie Fisher played Sharon’s mother and was on her way home from filming S4 when she passed away. There was a very nice call-out to her in the final episode.
A sampling of some of my favorite lines from the finale:“Having kids is like strapping yourself to a Formula One race car: Boom, your life is over. But not in a bad way!”; “If I met you right now, I’d still want to fuck you for a week, and get you pregnant, and marry you, and fuck things up from there”; “Here’s how I feel about sex with you these days: On paper, it sounds amazing. But if you were to initiate it, like tonight, I’d just be angry,” and the final line of the final episode when Sharon jumps nude into the ocean and Rob at first can’t decide whether to follow her or not but ultimately does and says: “I just didn’t like seeing you adrift out there on your own”. Close the curtain on a really terrific show.
Casual (Hulu) ♦♦♦♦ 1/2
I subscribe briefly to Hulu a couple of times a year to catch up on shows that aren’t available other places. My Hulu go-to for the past few years has been Casual which concluded its four-year run this past September but I just got to it this week. Casual is an excellent show – in my opinion its crown jewel – that follows a dysfunctional brother/sister relationship (and her daughter) through some pretty strange life situations as they search for happiness and meaning. The final season is a perfect conclusion to a show that started out focusing on on-line dating disasters and waffle making and concludes by exploring the deepest dimensions of family and relationships.
Alex, the brother, isn’t able to commit to a relationship but in the season 4 time-jump, has a daughter by a former Air B&B renter (Rae) with whom he is “sexually incompatible”. He decides he is in love with Rae but she has moved on with someone else and has decided to move to another state with her boyfriend. In what is the most mature, selfless decision that Alex has ever made, he decides to give up his California home and family to move to Austin in order to be there for his daughter. The final scenes where he leaves his sister and home are heart wrenching while at the same time providing some hope that this charming guy might find happiness.
Alex’s sister Valerie gives up her therapist career to open a wine store and her estranged daughter Laura returns from Europe with a girl friend who promptly dumps her. In the meantime, Laura and Valerie reestablish their relationship and ultimately Laura finds herself and love. The supporting characters also go through pain and suffering but in the end, all of them are in a better place and the possibility of this strange array of misfits finding happiness seems almost possible. I’m really going to miss this one!
You’re the Worst (FX – rating TBD)
You’re the Worst is in the home stretch of its fifth and final season. This is a darker dramedy then either Casual or Catastrophe and has been a little less consistent than either of those shows. I particularly enjoyed S1/2 and struggled with S4. The jury is still out on this season but there have been some great moments. Gretchen (played brilliantly by Aya Cash) and Jimmy (Chris Geere) are moving quickly toward a marriage uniting two of the most dysfunctional adults to have ever been on the small screen. Gretchen struggles with a serious depression disorder and can’t keep a job. Jimmy is a complete narcissist who has had some success as a writer but it is rather fleeting. This final season focuses on the last few weeks before the wedding while providing some flash forwards (we assume) that suggest there won’t be a happy ending for these two.
I have some issues with this show, particularly around the fact that of the four main characters, the two guys are presented as the smart, more together characters and the two women portrayed as ditzy, crazy and not particularly intelligent. Overall, however, these aren’t large concerns. You’re the Worst has only two more episodes so I’ll put a post script on this romantic comedy when it is done. In addition to the flash forwards, there have been some unusual plot surprises this season which make for some crazy goings on. For now, I’m relishing the fact that I have two more episodes left before all of my “dramedies” disappear forever from peak TV.