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Sharon Horgan on Her Female-Dominated Company and ‘Catastrophe’s’ Ambiguous End

From unemployed actress to now a hot commodity, Sharon Horgan is riding a wave of creative success that includes the recently concluded hit show “Catastrophe,” a deal with Amazon Studios and a busy production company, Merman, that’s female-dominated and gets “more interesting stories because of it.”

“It was completely deliberate,” Horgan said of the choice to be a women-centric company. “And weirdly, we were worried we were being slightly too…female [a] company.” But the decision has been rewarded story-wise.

The proudly Irish Horgan, speaking to reporter Stewart Clarke at Variety’s European TV Summit on Thursday, laughed about how much of her time Merman is occupying, which she had no idea would be the case when she founded the company with Clelia Mountford. ““Honest to God, I don’t know what I was thinking,” she said.

Horgan’s breakout hit with Rob Delaney, “Catastrophe,” wrapped after its fourth season a few months ago. She said she and comedian Delaney felt that the series had come to a natural end, that “it would be good to go out on a high and control how we ended it….And it was getting harder” to say “fresh things” about a married couple with two kids.

The show’s ending is ambiguous, leaving viewers to imagine for themselves what happens to Horgan and Delaney’s characters, who are reminded of their strong feelings for each other while they’re swimming together in a choppy sea, far from shore. The two leads differed themselves over their characters’ fates.

“Mine’s the optimistic one,” whereas Delaney’s “wasn’t really a happy ending,” Horgan said. Ultimately, “it was truthful….We just wanted to end with something beautiful and even possibly ominous.”

Her character, who is also named Sharon, is often an unpleasant person, which has led viewers to think that’s how Horgan is for real. “I don’t really mind they think I’m Sharon,” she said, adding: “I am her,” to a certain extent.

In January 2018, Horgan signed a two-year deal with Amazon Studios. Working with Hollywood has been a new experience. “There’s always enough money but, weirdly, there’s never enough money,” she said.

Next, she will exec produce Aisling Bea’s Channel 4 drama “This Way Up” and Sarah Kendall’s Sky U.K. and ABC Australia series “Frayed.” She will also be behind the camera for her feature directorial debut, “The New World,” for Focus Features. “I love it. It’s scary because there’s nowhere to hide,” Horgan said about directing. “You have to trust your decision-making process.”

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