When Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney created the Amazon comedy “Catastrophe,” in which they also star, they decided to call the characters Sharon and Rob.
So fans assume that a lot of what they see in the insightful, funny and sometimes searing look at marriage are versions of them.
“That’s not something we thought about a lot when we committed to those names,” Horgan says. “Now even people really close to us assume there’s more of us in there than there really is. A friend might watch an episode and say that’s definitely me, and I’ll say, ‘No, it’s definitely not.’ ”
As the series has evolved, Horgan and Delaney say there is less of the real them in the characters, but “Catastrophe” can feel familiar, uncomfortably so at times, to anyone who has been in a long-term relationship.
The series revolves around Rob, an American, and Sharon, a teacher from Ireland. They meet while he’s in London on business and have a crazy whirlwind fling before he heads back home to America. But after she finds out she is pregnant, Rob returns to England, and the couple, who barely know each other, impulsively get married and try to make the relationship work.
Now entering its third season, “Catastrophe’s” story has gone from the euphoria of the early attraction into parenthood and now to the nitty-gritty of making a marriage work by making compromises and growing up.
Delaney, who is a successful stand-up comedian with a large Twitter following, says he and Horgan came up with a “thesis” for the beginning of the season.
He says with a laugh that this might have sounded like a bad idea to his younger self, “But we do have opinions we really want to express and things we want to say.”
Season 3 picks up after Rob’s character was accused at the end of last season of sexual harassment in the workplace, which viewers knew to be a false accusation (though one that used his character’s comments out of context in a damning way). Indignant, he refuses to return to his job and remains unemployed.
Then, finding a receipt for the morning-after pill, Rob frets over the possibility that Sharon has been unfaithful.
Eventually, there is some smoke there, but no fire. Rob takes the high ground but in other ways wants to make her pay, while Sharon wants to atone. The couple marches on.
“In my own marriage, my wife and I choose to be sexually faithful to each other,” says Delaney, “but I’ve joked that if she did cheat on me, I would be totally devastated, but we’d have to make it work. That’s my belief.”
Horgan says they weren’t interested in having the characters fight all the time, however.
“It’s no fun watching people argue onscreen and even less fun watching people not talk to each other.”
“Catastrophe” manages to do the nearly impossible: deal with the difficult issues of domestic life and love without losing its offbeat charm. (When Rob confronts Sharon about his suspicions, instead of defending herself, her response is, “It’s been a tough time. Brexit, you know. And your president.”)
“I think what we wanted to talk about was the fact that even though both your names might be on a mortgage, even though you have a fairly obvious career path in front of you, there is no guarantee it will work out,” Delaney says. “You know, even though you might think you can go on autopilot in certain areas, you never can in a marriage. You do that at your own peril.”
Both Delaney and Horgan are parents. He has three sons, 6 and under, while she has a 13-year-old and an 8-year-old.
After three seasons, Horgan says they have built up the characters enough so that their fictional selves have their own histories.
“But there still are a few things there this season that we kind of nicked from our own stories,” she says.
Horgan came late to comedy. “I wanted to be a dramatic actor for whatever ridiculous reason, and it wasn’t until I was in my late 20s that comedy seemed like something I might be good at. I had no idea I could deliver a funny line.”
Her breakthrough was the 2006 series “Pulling,” which she wrote and starred in. It was about three women enjoying the single life of not being committed. She has also created HBO’s “Divorce,” starring Sarah Jessica Parker. Despite its brutal beginning — the death throes of a marriage — Horgan says, “I don’t think it’s actually a dark show. We try to be as funny as possible while talking about some real issues.”
Delaney, who has been married for 10 years and has lived in London since the show started, says he feels that he should be capitalizing on the success of “Catastrophe,” but “I’m consciously not doing it, because of the ages of my children. … Maybe when they get older and my kids like me less, then I can do more and do all the things that the careerist workaholic in me feels I should be doing,” says the Massachusetts native.
One sad note about this season was the unexpected death of Carrie Fisher, who played Rob’s difficult mom, Mia. Fisher was returning to Los Angeles from London after shooting her final scenes for the series when she took ill on the flight and died four days later on Dec. 27.
Horgan had dinner with Fisher the night before she left London, and she says Fisher had wanted to do more with Mia. Delaney wrote a tribute to her in the Guardian, saying he and Horgan made her a bigger part of Season 3 since she was “so brilliant” in the role.
Because of the success of “Catastrophe,” fans come up to Horgan and tell her things from their lives that have been reflected in the series.
“It’s a very lovely thing to experience,” she says. “That’s why it feels like a responsibility now to come up with storylines that people continue to relate to.”
What: Season 3 of comedy about marriage starring Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan
When: Available for streaming beginning Friday, April 28
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