I had a great time watching “Bad Sisters,” a blackly comic murder-mystery set in Ireland. The Apple TV+ series, which premieres Friday, is about five close sisters who come under intense scrutiny by a pair of insurance investigators after the death of their brother-in-law. Did one of the Garvey sisters murder him? Did all of the Garvey sisters murder him?
At times, the show, adapted from the Flemish series “Clan,” unfolds like a comic version of “Big Little Lies.” Claes Bang plays the dead brother-in-law, John Paul, who, we see in the many flashbacks, is psychologically abusive to his wife, Grace (Anne-Marie Duff). He’s also just an all-round bully and misogynist who harasses all of Grace’s sisters: Becka (Eve Hewson), Bibi (Sarah Greene), Ursula (Eva Birthistle), and Eva (show creator Sharon Horgan), who has been the family’s mother figure since their parents died in a car accident years earlier. Some of the morally queasy laughs come from witnessing just how awful and toxic John Paul is and wondering if the world is indeed better off without him. It would be wrong to kill him, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it?
The women do try to off him, but, amateurs at murder, they keep failing. It’s amusing enough, as their attempts become increasingly absurd. But the 10-episode season never entirely succumbs to farce, and it provides a lot more character development and specificity than you might expect, both for the sisters as well as for the two investigators, half-brothers Thomas (Brian Gleeson) and Matt (Daryl McCormack). The concept is broad, but the realization of it is filled with rich detail, depth, and tons of wit.
All the actors playing the Garvey sisters are excellent, and they make the sometimes prickly, but always loving, five-way family rapport endlessly enjoyable to watch. The casting is impeccable. Gleeson and McCormack are good, too, as they try to prove that John Paul was murdered for the money in order to avoid making the big payout. With this entertaining new show, along with “Severance,” “Slow Horses,” “Loot,” “The Afterparty,” and “Black Bird,” Apple TV+ is having quite a year.
Matthew Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.