Explode a Man
Eye for an Eye
Rest in Peace
The Cold Truth
Maybe murder isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe, in some cases, survival necessitates it.
The Garvey sisters certainly think so in Sharon Horgan’s new Apple TV series, Bad Sisters. Every day, they watch one of their own slip away, “getting quieter and smaller” each moment she’s married to their brother-in-law, “that prick” John Paul Williams (Claes Bang).
It’s why, when John Paul rests permanently in a coffin, most of the sisters aren’t especially torn up about it. After the funeral, they take each other’s hands. There’s the eldest, Eva (Sharon Horgan); the nurse, Ursula (Eva Birthistle); the fiery-tempered Bibi (Sarah Greene); and the youngest, Becka (Eve Hewson).The four of them swear to stand up for each other and for their grieving sister, Grace (Anne-Marie Duff). And to remember: no one–not even Grace–can know what they did.
The drama unfolds in two different timelines. In one, the four sisters plot John Paul’s demise, although writers will repeatedly draw out the suspense, teasing the exact details of his death. In the present, the Claffin brothers Tom (Brian Gleeson) and Matt (Daryl McCormack) suspect foul play. Hoping to save their insurance company and to avoid paying Grace from her late husband’s claim, the agents investigate his death. All paths lead back to the Garvey sisters, but a certain romantic entanglement complicates the brothers’ search for the truth.
Bad Sisters does its best to erase any moral quandaries viewers might have in rooting for the sisters. John Paul is so utterly detestable, that–if you’re anything like me–you’ll be sitting on the edge of your seat, actively cheering for his downfall. Bang plays John Paul with a cheerfully smug arrogance–completely selling the concept of a charming abuser, ruining others’ lives for kicks and giggles. The scoundrel has done something underhandedly heinous to each Garvey sister, but–as they repeatedly remind themselves–their goal has to be about saving Grace.
At its heart, this story isn’t so much about crime attempts as it is about the powers of a sisterly bond to overcome abuse, toxicity, and power imbalances. There’s a subversive (if none too deep) feminist arc at play here, in noting the ways women so often aren’t able to out their oppressors within lawful systems. Sometimes, you have to go outside the system. And Bad Sisters takes that idea to the darkest and most hilarious extreme.
While the interpersonal relationships aren’t as fleshed out as they could be and the sisters’ bond isn’t challenged beyond some surface-level, easily-resolved drama–Bad Sisters maintains a tense level of suspense after it gets over the repetitive nature of the first few episodes. And subtle breadcrumbs all lead up to a fantastic end, coming together to create a clever picture of how John Paul died–and just why everybody hated him so much.
With Bad Sisters, Sharon Horgan and Apple TV deliver a beautifully-acted, darkly funny show about sisters who will do anything for each other. You’ll come for the murderous shenanigans… and you’ll probably stay for them too.
Bad Sisters premieres August 19 on Apple TV Plus.
Verdict - 7.5/10