Sharon Horgan’s Bad Sisters is an absolute delight. Believable and engaging characters, a truly deplorable villain, witty humor, and a whip-smart script – this is class filmmaking.
This review of the Apple TV+ series Bad Sisters season 1 does not contain any major spoilers.
You may recognize Danish actor Claes Bang from BBC’s Dracula series, in which he played the titular villain, or maybe The Outlaws, where again he played a despicable bad guy. Well in the series Bad Sisters, Claes Bang throws caution to the wind, and swan dives into his typecast legacy, playing the villain once more. Bad Sisters hinges on this key character and the audience’s pure hatred for his role as John Paul Williams (JP). The show would crumble without this biting distaste for the central man and in Bad Sisters, we have one of the most detestable baddies in recent memory. Claes Bang knocks this performance clean out of the park and for that, makes a hit out of the latest Apple TV+ series.
The premise centers on a group of sisters, who decide to plot to kill their deplorable brother-in-law. And JP is a real dirt bag of the highest order, you can’t blame them for wanting the man dead. The ladies constantly refer to him as ‘the prick’ and that is putting it lightly. John Paul is a conniving, hate-filled monster, set to ruin all of the sisters’ lives, using differing, unique methods for each individual. Claes Bang looks to be having a lot of fun as the loathsome brother-in-law. And Bad Sisters is a lot of fun full stop, created by Irish filmmaker Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe), who plays one of the sisters, this Apple original is sure to win over fans with its charming cast and devilish narrative.
Horgan spends a lot of time introducing the many cast members, building believable, whole characters out of them in the process. Their motives are clear cut and even though the show is dripping in sarcasm and whimsy, it always feels realistic and grounded. Horgan leads the Garvey sisters’ clan as Eva, an alcoholic spinster, who is competing for a promotion against the aforementioned prick, JP. Her sisters include Ursula (Eva Birthistle), a nurse with a twisted secret that of course, JP is privy to and uses to manipulate the poor mother into some horrid acts. There’s Becka (Eve Hewson), a clumsy, happy-go-lucky masseuse, and Bibi (Sarah Greene), who sports an eye patch. Rounding out the sisters is JP’s wife Grace (Anne-Marie Duff).
Grace is belittled and controlled by JP, shrinking and turning inwards as a result of his abusive dictatorship. The sisters can see a real change in their Grace, all at the hand of this sinister husband, and plan to wipe him out of the picture completely to save all the sister’s respected futures. It’s a clever concept that Horgan capitalizes upon to bring intrigue to the past timeline, whilst in the present, with JP dead, she brings in insurance men Thomas and Matthew Claffin to add an extra layer of suspense.
The Claffin brothers, steered by Brian Gleeson’s Thomas, are desperate to avoid a massive pay-out and decide to embark upon their own investigation into JP’s death, hoping to file for malicious intent, which would save their company from imminent bankruptcy. The Claffin brothers enjoy playing detective, questioning the sisters and hunting for further clues in the present timeline. The series dips between these two storylines, which intertwine seamlessly into one overall crime saga. It all accumulates in an irreverent comedy series that is worth a watch. A fascinating family drama that showcases some cinematic and inventive camera work and soars thanks to a cast of rounded characters you can’t help but root for.
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