You kind of get the sensibility of this show when you look at the title of the first episode, “The Prick.” As you might expect from anything that’s been honed and crafted by the tremendously gifted Sharon Horgan, this is a show that will follow a long and winding path between brutal reality and hilarity, jet black humour and blinding light.
Bad Sisters is the latest show from Apple TV+, who I probably sound like I work for because I praise them so frequently, but have been producing some really incredible original TV shows over the last few months – and are quickly beginning to cement themselves as the most exciting streaming service. The show tells the story of the Garvey sisters, a group of five siblings who have been brought together even closer than most by the untimely death of their parents, and a promise to always protect each other and to stick together.
However, how far will they go to protect one another when they believe one of the group is being mistreated, and just what are a group of seemingly “normal” people capable of when they collectively begin to try to solve a problem… well that’s what we’re about to find out.
The five sisters are; Eva (Sharon Horgan) the self-appointed matriarch of the group, Bibi (Sarah Greene) who is married with children and has lost an eye, married with children Ursula (Eva Birthistle) who dreams of times when they could do what they want again, and Becca (Eve Hewson) who is the youngest of the group. There is also Grace (Anne-Marie Duff), who becomes the centre of attention in the first episode. She is married to John Paul (The Prick) and has a 12-year-old daughter.
In the opening episode it’s quickly established that Grace is living in a coercive relationship with John Paul (played by Claes Bang). He has no redeeming features, and spends every waking hour it seems trying to control Grace and make her life a misery. This is something that is recognised by the other sisters and increasingly becoming a problem for them. Things come to a head at Christmas and a plot begins to form as to what can be done to stop him ruining the life of Grace.
The show plays out on two timelines, one in the build-up to the death of John Paul, and the other in the aftermath of his demise. As a viewer, we begin to understand how we got where we are, and clues and hints begin to be dropped as to what actually happened to John Paul.
Set against the windswept backdrop of the Irish coastline, this show is moody and funny, poignant and relatable, magnificently crafted and beautifully well-paced. The underlying theme of coercion in marriage is no laughing matter, but the show brilliantly manages to highlight through a bittersweet mix of light and shade the horrible reality of living in such a situation, while still finding humour in the very darkest parts of life.
Aided by a razor-sharp script, excellent acting performances and on-screen chemistry from all of the main players in the show, what the viewer is left with is a comedy-drama which will intrigue and entertain, at the same time as making you think about the bigger questions and problems with the human condition.
Based on a Flemish series, Clan, there’s a definite comparison to Big Little Lies to be made of this production in its theme, although this is as you might expect more gritty and humorous than the aforementioned Californian show.
Part of the magic of this show will be watching how it plays out, and how we get from one timeline to the other, and I’m sure there will be plenty of twists and turns along the way. So the best thing you can do right now is stop reading this article, head to Apple TV+ and watch this excellent show. You won’t regret it…
Bad Sisters is available to stream from Friday 19th August on Apple TV+