Women are back on our screen plotting to kill and it is all the more hilarious this time around.
Bad Sisters set in Dublin, Ireland and created by Sharon Horgan chronicles the lives of the Garvey sisters — Eva (Sharon Horgan), Becka (Eve Hewson), Ursula (Eva Birthistle) Bibi (Sarah Greene) and Grace (Anne-Marie Duff) — who are bound together by the premature death of their parents. Each sister falls into a neat caricaturish box prepared by social conventions: Eva is the eldest who took over the reins of raising her sisters after their parents’ death; Grace, the devoted wife with a controlling husband; Ursula, a nurse unhappy in her marriage who seeks comfort in an extramarital affair with her photography teacher; Bibi, the eye-patch wearing impulsive woman who comes across as a hardened misandrist; and Becka, the naive, romantic masseuse who is yet to figure out the purpose of her life.
The series starts off with the funeral of Grace’s husband John Paul (Claes Bang). The contempt the sisters share towards him is ripe even when his coffin is being lowered into the ground; only Grace is seen mourning her husband. The mystery surrounding the circumstances of his death is maintained for nearly nine episodes and works as the hook of the show.
Half-brothers Matthew Claffin (Daryl McCormack) and Thomas Claffin (Brian Gleeson) who run the ‘Claffin & Sons’ insurance agency are responsible to pay off the insurance on John Paul to Grace. However, the brothers who suspect his accidental death to be murder become amateur sleuths to uncover the truth, and in the process, make for great storytellers to keep the show going. The timeline jumps between the present day and weeks (in some cases years) leading up to John Paul’s death.
One can’t help but be captivated by the ensemble cast’s performances, with a special mention to Claes Bang for his nauseating portrayal of the sadist that is John Paul. On the surface, he looks like an everyday misogynist white man who liked to control his wife and daughter, and make the lives of women around him miserable. He’s also a snitch and liar who, as a kid, liked to kill frogs by drowning them in milk; it almost feels like he’s allergic to seeing women happy.
As the Claffin brothers continue their investigation, the audience is reeled back in time to piece together the lives of the Garvey sisters. John Paul gives each of his sisters-in-law a sound reason to plot his murder. The sisters’ plans start taking shape right from the second episode with almost all of them going awry; Eva even remarks on one instance that their brother-in-law is like a cockroach who cannot be killed. While the audience is not new to female characters who plot murder, Bad Sisters adds value to the plot with its dark comedy which is well-crafted and helps reinforce the sisters’ vengeance toward the cold, conniving and calculating frog-killer. The humour helps the characters of the sisters take life on-screen, unlike the blind female rage we are used to being served in titles like Promising Young Woman.
The men in the show — excluding John Paul — are mostly kind, warm, and understanding of the sisters, and make for great supporting characters while also serving as a great point of reference to comprehend Paul’s depravity.
Pleasing to the eyes and ears and progressing at the right pace, the show is produced beautifully and serves up a cathartic watch. Bad Sisters serves as a great addition to the arsenal of stories about funny women who love fiercely and don’t mind occasionally plotting to kill a man to save themselves.
Bad Sisters is currently streaming on Apple TV+