Apple TV’s Bad Sisters: Getting rid of an obnoxious in-law has never been more fun
Bad Sisters is the most deftly-written and darkest dramas to grace a streaming service this year. Picture the scene: four Irish sisters from Malahide in Ireland are at their wits’ end with their vile, controlling brother-in-law, John Paul. So they decide to murder him. Seems reasonable so far, right?
Okay, before we get too far into this review, let’s meet our victim: John Paul Williamson. Known affectionately among his in-laws as “The Prick”.
John Paul - dubbed the “most loathsome villain of the year” by Stylist - is a bundle of toxicity wrapped in some very sharp suits and with a great haircut. He’s controlling. He’s manipulative. He’s misogynistic, homophobic, cruel and underhand.
That’s the beauty of the series: as the story unfolds, we discover ways that John Paul has hurt, screwed over and done worse to members of the Garvey family. He blinds one of the sisters through his reckless driving. He promises to fund Becka’s business and then abruptly pulls out just as she’s committed to a lease. He threatens and tricks Ursula into sending a nude and attempts to expose her affair to her husband. He…does much worse than that.
Over 10 episodes, the four sisters attempt to assassinate John Paul in increasingly outlandish ways - usually with some collateral damage to either themselves or innocent bystanders. Pursuing the sisters are a pair of insurance fraud investigators looking for a way to avoid a life insurance payout to John Paul’s wife (Anne-Marie Duff). This sub-plot is particularly fiery as one of the investigators is in a situationship with the youngest Garvey sister, Becka.
It’s a satisfying guessing game, trying to work out how John Paul died and who eventually kills him. The title sequence is loaded with clues pointing to how John Paul might have died, but you’ll be kept guessing up until the final episode.
With fantastic performances across the entire cast, especially Claes Bang, who creates such an utterly loathsome character - you’ll be cheering on these homicidal sisters the whole way through. I want to also give an honourable mention to Northern Irish actor Michael Smiley, who plays Grace’s next door neighbour. His character, Roger, has a massive crush on Grace and delivers with an incredible sweetness which is a complete antithesis of John Paul. Naturally, John Paul decides to repay Roger’s interest in his wife by framing him as a paedophile.
Bottom line: with every episode of Bad Sisters, you will hate the character of John Paul more and more. Horgan and her co-writers build John Paul into an utterly despicable villain, and the sisters with increasingly no other option than to dispose of him. As a viewer, you’ll find that by about episode 3 you’re absolutely on board with this murder and willing the sisters to finish him off.