‘Bad Sisters’ Is a Good Comedy

Posted in Apple TV +, TV, What's Streaming? by - August 19, 2022
‘Bad Sisters’ Is a Good Comedy

Across genres, Apple TV+ apparently wants its audience to think about when – and if – it’s ever okay to kill people. The streaming service’s excellent new series Five Days At Memorial, a medical drama set during Hurricane Katrina. That series explores the moral implications of euthanizing good people who are suffering. By contrast, Bad Sisters explores the morality of – and potential humour involved in – a taboo subject. Specifically, killing a bad person who makes other people suffer…

Created by and co-starring comic genius Sharon Horgan, Bad Sisters chronicles the lives of the Garvey siblings. They’re a close-knit family of five women, four of whom hate the same man, the sour-faced, acid-tongued John Paul (Claes Bang). Unfortunately, John Paul is married to Grace (Anne-Marie Duff), the sole sister who claims not to hate him. JP is universal unpopular. So when the healthy middle-aged man unexpectedly dies, the holders of his insurance policy suspect foul play.  And Grace’s sisters make the perfect suspects…

As the series shows us through well-crafted flashbacks, each Garvey lady had a motive for wanting John Paul dead. He makes crass jokes about eldest sister Eva’s infertility (delivered at Christmas dinner!). He’s also a controlling, abusive husband who regularly attacks Grace’s intellect and limits where she’s allowed to go and when. For maximum creepiness, John Paul also refers to his wife as “mammy” (the Irish term of endearment for mothers). He does this more often than he says Grace’s actual name. For good measure, Bad Sisters also explores a host of JP’s other misdeeds. There’s no ambiguity here: this man is foul.

The breaking point for the Garveys happens John Paul orders Grace to skip her family’s annual Christmas Day Polar Bear swim. After their customary dip in the ocean, the sisters wonder if the only way to save Grace is to kill her husband. Indeed, Grace has become a perpetually nervous-looking shell of a woman who does copious amounts of housework and little else. So, the sisters start wrestling with a heavy question: is it ever justifiable to kill a man, even if he’s sucking the life out of your sister?

Bad Sisters bills itself as a drama, but this tale of siblings ineptly trying to murder a guy aptly nicknamed “The Prick” is more of a black comedy.  This comedy also displays itself when it comes to youngest sister Becka (Eve Hewson). She accidentally becomes romantically involved with an insurance exec investigating her family. There, it feels like a full-on farce. However, Bad Sisters‘ farcical nature isn’t a failing! Its charming ensemble of female leads sells the zanier elements with aplomb, making you hope they’ll get their acts together and finally off the awful brother-in-law.

While Bad Sisters boasts plenty of strong female performers, its true star might actually be Claes Bang. Bang boldly embodies John Paul’s many troublesome qualities. He embodies both his childish inability to locate band-aids in his own home and his habit of aggressively berating his wife for mistakes he himself made. Bang is so adept at portraying a jerk, the show’s central conceit. Overall, it makes the viewer CHEER for the sisters to kill him!

In a year where privileged white men won’t stop attacking women’s rights around the world, it’s cathartic to watch Bad Sisters treat one Bad Man to his comeuppance.

  • Release Date: 8/19/2022
This post was written by
Sarah Sahagian is a feminist writer based in Toronto. Her byline has appeared in such publications as The Washington Post, Refinery29, Elle Canada, Flare, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. She is also the co-founder of The ProfessionElle Society. Sarah holds a master’s degree in Gender Studies from The London School of Economics. You can find her on Twitter, where she posts about parenting, politics, and The Bachelor.
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