When you think, you think: Money. Now put that money in the pair of safe hands that are TV creator Sharon Horgan, and you’ve got one of the best TV shows of 2022.
At first glance, Bad Sisters seems like a sweary, boozy sitcom about sisters doing rebellious things. It is. It’s also a disturbing drama about abuse and murder, set in the moving postcard that is Dublin.
This unique hybrid of tones is the result of hiring Apple TV Plus from prolific series creator and actor Horgan (Drag, Catastrophe). Her effervescent characters are one part chaos, two parts charm, and three parts moral gray area.
The show’s intriguing format puts us in the aftermath of a murder, then jumps back in time to turn pieces of the puzzle. It’s both a whodunit and a howdunit.
A man named John Paul Williams (Class Bang) is the victim of the murder. The show gives a pretty strong justification for his death. Simply put, John Paul is a misogynist, racist, and sexist, traits he barely conceals behind the veil of his handsome husband.
John Paul is married to Grace Garvey (Anne-Marie Duff), the second oldest of five Garvey sisters: Eva (Sharon Horgan) is the oldest; Ursula (Eva Birthistle) is the middle child; Bibi (Sarah Green) is the second youngest; and Becca (Eve Hewson), known as Baby Becca, is the youngest. Eva and Becca are about 20 years apart, and their mother-daughter dynamic epitomizes the Garvey tribe: at one point, Eva jokes that she could kill Becca. In another, she drops everything to compete on Becca’s side.
Orphaned as children, the sisters form a support network that includes the service of killing evil husbands. The sisters watch as John Paul dares his wife Grace into a tame mouse. At one end of the monster spectrum, he locks her in their house, claiming to protect her. Then again, he seemingly kills their daughter’s cat — and guess who takes the blame?
Everything escalates as John Paul drags each of the Garvey sisters into his life-destroying maelstrom. In order to survive – and free Grace from this complex prison – the Garveys come up with a variety of creative ways to kill John Paul without getting caught. There are many failed attempts. The grand antics of incompetent killers are the height of insane fun.
The question is: which of the brothers and sisters successfully killed John Paul? Or are they all together?
The current timeline creates more mishaps as the Garveys evade the investigation of equally errant life insurance agents. The agents are desperate to prove the murder and avoid sinking their struggling business with a huge profit. The investigators are also siblings — brothers — so they also know the feeling of suddenly being blind to the law if it means supporting their loved ones.
At the premiere of Bad Sistersin August it dropped episodes every week. Now you can destroy it with one move. Bad Sisters relentlessly forces you to do so. Each episode ends with a bomb or rock, then appears in the credits to songs titled Hot Knife or Kill Kill Kill.
Not to mention PJ Harvey’s rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Who by Fire plays over the opening credits. Immerse yourself in the haunting anthem, but keep an eye on the objects strategically placed on the screen, all related to how the murder unfolds.
Bad Sisters was originally planned as a 10-episode limited series adaptation of the Belgian crime comedy Clan. It wraps it all up in a neat bow, but the Garvey sisters’ impact lingers beyond. No matter how bleak their situation gets, the Garveys are endlessly watchable. From dealing with shattering trauma to laughing at the absurdity of their predicament, the effect is intoxicating, sitting you right at the dinner table, close to the heat.
In November, Apple TV Plus renewed Bad Sisters for a second season. The first one delivered one of the most satisfying endings imaginable, so it would be a feat to repeat that for season 2. Still, writer Horgan deserves full credit. It would be a coup even if season 2 was just the Garvey sisters watching TV, Gogglebox style.
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