I will never forget the feeling of being 7 years old and realizing that The Chicks’ Goodbye Earl is about three best friends who murder their other friend’s abusive boyfriend.
A babysitter of mine used to play the song from the CD stack in my parents’ collection and I had listened to it over 50 times without it ever registering. I hadn’t yet mastered the concept of giving meaning to lyrics. When it finally clicked, it was like my mind had been poked through one Interstellar-level wormhole. I could see everything around me with 20/20 vision. Every sense was sharpened. The concept of women banding together to happily kill a bad man changed everything for me.
In recent years, women killing men for the good of the world has become my preferred media genre. Give me a revenge movie and I’m there. A true crime document about an abusive adulterer who meets his death? I’ve already seen it. I hold Quentin Tarantino’s death proof and Taylor Swift’s “No Body, No Crime” in equal awe.
So imagine the childlike joy that flooded me when I ignited it bad sistersthe new Apple TV+ series about, you guessed it, some very nasty sisters.
Almost immediately, I remembered that old, familiar feeling from my Goodbye Earl days. bad sisters is just like The Chicks song except there are four culprits. And they are related. And they are Irish. So maybe not only like the song, but nonetheless the mindlessly entertaining, novel-like conspiracy is still there – now cranked up to an 11 for one of the most boisterous shows of the year.
Adapted from the Belgian series 2012 clan, bad sisters Stars catastrophe‘s Sharon Horgan as Eva Garvey, the voice of reason among her four other sisters: Ursula (Eva Birthistle), Grace (Anne-Marie Duff), Bibi (Sara Greene) and Becka (Eve Hewson). Though Eva is slowly getting out of hand and teetering on the brink of full-blown alcoholism, she’s still somehow the most put together of her sisters, all of whom were bound together by the untimely deaths of their parents. Though each sister has crawled through her own layer of muddy discord since then, none has suffered more than Grace.
Seeking a source of stability after the deaths of her parents, Grace became entangled in John Paul (Claes Bang), a charismatic but deceptively insidious piece of junk in a suit. The four other Garvey sisters collectively refer to him as “The Prick” and grow increasingly isolated within their quartet, bonding over their mutual dislike of John Paul. Though they’ve tried their best to see Grace as often as possible and include her in everything they do, John Paul’s constant and controlling presence casts a dark cloud over every family event.
A series of time jumps reveals John Paul’s increasingly vicious patterns of abuse throughout the family. Each sister has reached a breaking point with their brother-in-law, leading them to colloquially joke about ridding him of their lives for good. But once that seed is planted, John Paul cannot help but water it.
See, JP isn’t just an idiot. He’s a misogynistic, racist, self-aggrandizing, demeaning, world-class shitty asshole – sorry, asshole. The kind of freak who thinks his teenage daughter wearing a bra is sexualizing her. The kind of abusive narcissist who will immediately bow to the lowest of the low when offending someone and use a secret against them to prevent their malice from being exposed. If “gaslighting” hadn’t already become the overused word of the hour, it would be the new dictionary definition.
So when Bibi thinks about helping nature, her sisters can’t help but listen. After all, she says, John Paul isn’t a man he is the Man.
It’s here where bad sisters does something absolutely majestic. By grounding its riotous premise in deep sisterly love, the show gains a true glow of believability. Sure we should laugh as we see this family plan and try to kill someone, but you can’t help but wonder, “Wouldn’t I do the same? I could?”
The show’s title not only references the Garvey sisters’ intrigues, but nods to the fact that they both feel deeply guilty for letting it get this far. Over the years, they’ve watched Grace shoulder the consequences of John Paul’s abuse, her existence dwindling with each passing outrage. Anne-Marie Duff gives a great performance opposite Claes Bang’s imposing John Paul, effectively carrying the physicality of someone suffering major emotional abuse without ever compromising the glimmer of light that Grace’s sisters still see in her – despite JP’s attempts to enlighten him to wipe out.
Which is not to say bad sisters it’s all doom and gloom. The show’s writers understand the intrinsic comedy of siblings, as you know your family better than anyone, and even just witnessing this ebb and flow of this connection is both hilariously hilarious and endlessly captivating. Skillfully weaving comedy and drama is no easy feat, especially when dealing with a subject as real as abuse. but bad sisters makes it look as easy as a brisk stroll along the scenic Irish coast.
There’s more than family dynamics at play here, too. The Garveys’ unintended enemies have become Thomas and Matthew Claffin, the “sons” of Claffin & Sons, owners of John Paul’s hefty life insurance policy. To avoid a payout that would immediately bankrupt their ailing family business, the Claffins have decided to investigate the circumstances of JP’s death. And while the Garvey sisters did their best to make their brother-in-law’s death a forensic accident, the Claffins prove an unexpectedly impressive return.
We know from the start that John Paul will not get out of this story alive, but that doesn’t make it any less humorous to watch the sisters’ attempts to kill him. John Paul’s crimes are not only cruel, they are downright mean and hurtful. Amidst all my excitement about his death, I was fascinated by how many ways the authors could come up with for a man to be evil. Just when we think we’ve seen every horrible act a man could commit, we’re reminded that men always find a way to surpass themselves.
On that front, Bang is a marvel. It can not be said otherwise. An actor with that much natural charm could screw up this role very easily, but John Paul is a fountain of endless smarm. He’s the kind of slimy worm that makes you feel repulsed with just one look. He makes you wonder how someone hadn’t already taken down JP before the Garvey sisters targeted him.
Every component of the latest offering of Apple TV+ works together like a happy family to make this show a hilarious and good time. But in his heart bad sisters keeps coming back to the Garveys. It is rare that the dynamic of sisterhood is portrayed with such truthfulness. Grace, Eva, Bibi, Ursula and Becka are all highly complicated and utterly unique. They love, hate, fight and argue as any sisters would and would do, but when they get together their bond is unbreakable.
Though I might have been initially overcome with the nostalgic comfort of seeing a group of women kill a good-for-nothing — yes, I know how bizarre that sounds — my very favorite scenes occurred when it came to the dislike of the Garvey nowhere to find. To see these women just taking their time to be family bad sisters more than a pleasant surprise and put it in the ranks of my favorite shows of the year. Nothing could feel more homely than being welcomed into their bond with a simple phrase that says so much: “Put on the kettle.”
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https://www.thedailybeast.com/obsessed/apple-tvs-bad-sisters-proves-how-much-fun-it-is-to-kill-bad-men-review?source=articles&via=rss Apple TV’s Bad Sisters Proves the Fun of Killing Bad Men: Recap