Four sisters setting out to murder their emotionally and physically abusive brother-in-law may not sound like very humorous subject matter, but such is the premise of Apple TV+’s delectably dark comedy “Bad Sisters.” Adapted from the Flemish series “Clan,” the highly addictive show (which was just renewed for a second season) makes for one sinisterly hilarious binge!
Set in Dublin, Ireland, the prig at the center of the tale is John Paul Williams (Claes Bang), aka “The Prick” or “the racist, homophobic, sadistic, bigoted son of a prick,” as he is colorfully described in episode two. While his wife, Grace (Anne-Marie Duff), puts up with his constant maltreatment, her siblings decide to go a different route by hatching a plan to kill him. The only caveat? They’re horrendously bad at murder, bungling their way through several attempts to off JP over the course of ten episodes.
Created and executive produced by Sharon Horgan, who also stars as eldest Garvey sister Eva, the story is laid out through a shifting timeline that flashes back and forth across several months. And though we know at the outset that JP ultimately winds up dead, how he meets his well-deserved demise is the show’s central mystery – one that leaves audiences, as well as the two dogged agents in charge of the deceased’s life insurance policy, guessing to the very end.
With its dynamic chronology, murderous theme and haunting coastal setting, “Bad Sisters” has been drawing comparisons to “Big Little Lies” ever since its debut this past August. And that is no accident. Horgan told GQ that she looked to the hit HBO show for aesthetical inspiration, explaining, “Well, I mean, weirdly, when we were talking about what our take on it would be and the idea of wanting to really elevate things visually, we referenced ‘Big Little Lies.’ But for me, ‘Big Little Lies’ was escapism, it was beauty, you know, whereas we wanted this to feel as grounded and real as you could with four sisters trying to kill a man over and over. It was really important to me that it didn’t feel aspirational or glamorous.” Well, mission most definitely not accomplished because the onscreen world that Horgan and her production team created is entirely envy-inducing! From Eva’s picturesque seaside idyll to the striking modern manse where Bibi Garvey (Sarah Greene) lives to the adorable lakeside pad belonging to JP’s mother (which is no stranger to the screen), the landscape of “Bad Sisters” is a cinematic dreamland! I challenge you to watch and not immediately start Googling the cost of flights to Ireland!
Shot all throughout the Dublin area, in such places as Howth, Malahide and Skerries, as well as in London, England, Horgan tells GQ the production team “made up their own geography” for the story, weaving together a thoroughly inviting backdrop.
Not only are the characters’ houses aspirational, but their workplaces, as well! The charming brick-faced Claffin & Sons Insurance can be found on a cobblestoned drive that looks straight out of “The Holiday” in Waltham Abbey, about 15 miles northeast of London. And the futuristic Science Building on the University of Hertfordshire’s College Lane campus in Hatfield, England masks as the upscale hospital where Ursula Flynn (Eva Birthistle) toils away as a nurse. But Eva and JP definitely win the award for the most gorgeous office environment!
On the series, the eldest Garvey and her villainous brother-in-law are employed as financial directors at Gerald Fisher & Co., a prominent architecture firm. As such, the production team was tasked with securing an appropriately awe-inspiring spot to serve as headquarters for the tony enterprise. With its glass-encased modernistic façade, the gorgeous Fingal County Hall, located just north of Dublin in Swords, fit the bill perfectly.
Designed in 2000 by Merritt Bucholz and Karen McEvoy of Bucholz McEvoy Architects, the building houses municipal offices for Fingal County Council members and their staff in real life. Built as a replacement for the group’s former center of operations, the magnificent complex was completed at a cost of £13.4 million (about $18 million USD).
When plans for the project were initially announced in 1996, The Irish Times reported that councilors hoped the new site would “be a structure of which they could be proud.” And the final product is indeed worthy of commendation!
Situated abutting a bountiful grove of Holm Oak trees across from the bucolic town park and the medieval Swords Castle, Fingal County Hall is a glorious pairing of old and new.
Stretching five stories, the impressive 118,000-square-foot building comprises three wings housing offices for 450 employees, a modern council chamber with seating for 24 and a dining hall, all connected via a dazzling atrium that stands at the property’s forefront. The bright, dramatic space, which appears regularly throughout “Bad Sisters,” is framed by a curving glass wall that spans a staggering 115 feet and rises nearly 60 feet toward the sky. Featuring a concatenation of transparent 0.6-inch thick panels, the piece was crafted by RFR, the Paris-based engineering firm that was also responsible for the Louvre Pyramid, and is held in place via a massive cable truss system that Archis notes is “the longest spanning cable truss of its kind yet constructed.” Of the innovative design, the website furthers, “No vertical columns interrupt this space to support the glass wall, structured back to concrete floor slabs at each of the three levels through a complex tension-cable system: in essence a suspension bridge structure rotated 90-degrees that provides an uninterrupted horizontal view to the park from each level of the atrium.”
With its unique glass envelopment, the building’s interior is fully visible to anyone standing outside, thereby representing a literal embodiment of “an open and transparent expression of local government,” as is noted on the Bucholz McEvoy website.
The space beautifully showcases a towering 150-year-old Himalayan Cedar that stands in front of the Hall, as well, truly bringing the outside in.
With contoured elements featured throughout, even the atrium’s roof is notable. Fashioned of copper, the piece appears to undulate across the grand room, calling to mind a wave crashing against a shore.
Highly technologically advanced, the Hall is also outfitted with such contemporary amenities as a natural ventilation system that skirts the need for air conditioning, custom recessed lighting and “a modular exterior wall system of operable screen vents, windows and solar shades designed to maximize the control individual employees have over the internal climate,” as detailed by Archis.
It is at the cinematic structure that Eva reports for work each day alongside John Paul, who eventually becomes her boss, much to her chagrin. JP’s many office indiscretions include (spoiler!) outing Eva’s nervous breakdown and stint in rehab to the company’s founder before ultimately firing her, commandeering one of the gender-neutral bathroom stalls by writing “Men only. JP Williams’ Cubicle. Do not enter!” on the door and fondling a subordinate – and that’s just while on the job! It’s enough to turn anyone murderous, really.