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How Carrie Fisher’s Death Became Sharon Horgan’s Biggest Challenge for ‘Catastrophe’ Finale

TheWrap Emmy magazine: The decision to deal with Fisher’s death in the series finale, says Horgan, ”helped everything“ about that episode


This story about Sharon Horgan and “Catastrophe” first appeared in the Race Begins issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.

A feel-good ending definitely wouldn’t have made sense. Throughout its run, “Catastrophe” had been a darkly witty show that wasn’t afraid to make its characters unlikable as it told the story of an Irish schoolteacher and an American businessman who have a casual fling and decide to get married when she finds she’s pregnant.

After four years of fights, reconciliations and black humor, a grand romantic end to its final Season 4 just would have felt wrong.

“We wanted emotion in there, for sure, but not in a sentimental way,” said Sharon Horgan, who created and starred in the show with Rob Delaney.

“We had a different mindset going into the final season, but you have to fight that a little bit. You shouldn’t feel that each episode has more importance because this is the final season, because that makes you forget about being funny, I think.”

The series, which began on Channel 4 in the U.K. and was shown in the U.S. on Amazon, also had to deal with a real-life tragedy. For the first three seasons, Delaney’s mother, Mia, had been played by Carrie Fisher with unsurpassed wit and bile — but Fisher died shortly after finishing work on Season 3, so Horgan and Delaney had to figure out how to deal with the character’s absence and when to bring it into the final season.

“That was the hardest thing to figure out in wrapping up the show,” said Horgan. “We’d had a funeral in the season before for my dad, so we didn’t want to give her a repetitive beat in the storyline. And we didn’t want the final episode to be maudlin, but when we thought about putting her in an earlier episode, it felt not enough.”

In the end (spoiler alert!), they did wait until the final episode to have Mia die. During his eulogy in a beachside ceremony, Rob reads an email he’d gotten from his mother that includes the passage, “I bet Mike Pence spends his Sundays throwing disabled kids out of windows. Looks like he would, that f—ing microwaved apple-looking ass motherf—er.”

“Deciding to give her a final farewell in that episode helped everything,” said Horgan. “And when we came upon the idea of reading the email, we thought, ‘We can actually get her voice in there, and have her say something really awful that Carrie would have wanted to say, or Mia would have wanted to say.’ It became a bit of a gift.”

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