I’m pleased to confirm Sharon Horgan has made yet another slam-dunk of a show. She’s following up “Catastrophe,” “This Way Up,” “Motherland,” “Shining Vale,” and a host of other TV projects, with “Bad Sisters,” an Irish update of the Belgian series “Clan.” Horgan co-wrote, executive produced, and stars in Apple TV+’s new dark comedy.
Also starring Anne-Marie Duff (“Sex Education”), Eva Birthistle (“The Last Kingdom”), Sarah Greene (“Normal People”), and Eve Hewson (“Behind Her Eyes”), “Bad Sisters” may remind you of “Broadchurch” by way of “Gilmore Girls” — it’s a seaside murder mystery, and simultaneously a cozy domestic dramedy focusing on the interior lives of a tight-knit group of women. There are beautiful homes with top-notch set production, no shortage of banter or screwball comedy, and a lived-in chemistry among the five lead actresses. Oh, and the central conceit is an unexplained death that the titular Garvey sisters apparently had a part in.
Grace (Duff) is grieving her recently deceased her husband, The Prick aka John Paul (Claes Bang), a controlling, emotionally abusive, misogynist bigot whose main mission in life was to drive a wedge between his wife and her sisters. (It’s worth noting here that the Garveys are extraordinarily close, which the show attributes to them losing their parents at a young age, and having no one but each other to lean on.) In flashbacks, he makes insensitive jokes about unofficial matriarch Eva’s (Horgan) infertility; he slut-shames youngest sister Becka (Hewson); he discovers Ursula (Birthistle) is cheating on her husband and uses it to torture her; and there are hints he had something to do with Bibi (Greene) losing an eye. No wonder the sisters, minus Grace, wanted The Prick dead, or at least fantasized about killing him.
It’s clear from the outset that Eva, Ursula, Bibi, and Becka were somehow involved in The Prick’s death — which is believed to be an accident by everyone besides the bumbling, bankrupt insurance agents (Brian Gleeson and Daryl McCormack) who are trying to avoid paying out the life insurance policy. But, three episodes in, I still don’t know what exactly happened to The Prick, or how culpable the Garveys are. It seems that will be teased out throughout the 10-episode season.
In the meantime, I’m loving hanging out with Horgan (duh) and the rest of the cast. It’s my favorite kind of show: a women-driven ensemble that’s too funny to be self-important, and too grounded to be (completely) frothy. Horgan and her co-developers, Dave Finkel and Brett Baer, are giving me exactly the late-summer/early-autumn television treat I’d been hoping for.
The first two episodes of “Bad Sisters” are now available on Apple TV+. New episodes arrive Fridays. Dearbhla Walsh, Josephine Bornebusch, and Rebecca Gatward are the series directors.