Sharon Horgan on Why 'Bad Sisters' Turn Bad

Bad Sisters on Apple TV Plus
(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

Bad Sisters, a mix of dark comedy and drama from Sharon Horgan, debuts on Apple TV Plus August 19. Something of a murder mystery, it is about the Garvey sisters in Ireland, who always look out for one another. One of the sisters has an abusive husband, and the sisters come together to protect their sibling. 

Horgan plays a sister, as do Anne-Marie Duff, Eva Birthistle, Sarah Greene and Eve Hewson. 

As the series begins, the ill-tempered husband, John Paul, is lying dead in a casket in the family home. His wife realizes the dead man has an erection. 

Horgan felt that was an effective way to humiliate the horrible man. "He was such a danger while he was alive," said Horgan. "He’s such an abusive monster, so we take away his dignity in death" by giving the corpse an erection, and later, when his casket slips out of the hands of his pallbearers as they aim to lower it into the grave. 

Horgan, who starred in Prime Video comedy Catastrophe, said the funny anecdotes befalling the dead man take away the abusive power he wielded when he walked the earth. "It was very important to make a fool of him," she said. "I wanted him to be a real fool."

The series is inspired by a Belgian show called Clan. That one has five sisters, and Horgan herself is one of five siblings. (Her brother, Shane, played rugby for the Ireland national team.) "Anything less and it wouldn’t have felt like such a formidable group of women," she said. 

The producers worked hard to make the sisters “infectious good company,” according to Horgan. The viewer "needs to be on their side to be behind this pretty terrible thing they’re doing," she added. 

Horgan, Brett Baer and Dave Finkel are writers and executive producers. Horgan, Faye Dorn and Clelia Mountford executive produce for Merman, and Gozin, Bert Hamelinck and Michael Sagol exec produce for Caviar. Two episodes come out August 19, and one arrives every Friday through October 14. 

Horgan called Fargo a major influence on the project. Dearbhla Walsh directed the first three episodes, and directed on Fargo too. "I love the way they balance monstrous behavior with characters you really care about," said Horgan. "They take you by surprise all the time."

Horgan noted the "unexpected collateral damage" that pops up a lot on Fargo

Asked if the Catastrophe gang might get back together, Horgan said no. Her other credits include HBO’s Divorce and SundanceTV’s Motherland

Bad Sisters is about the power of love and the strength of families, Horgan said. With so many sketchy characters dominating the news in real life, she hopes viewers will enjoy seeing a bully get taken down a few pegs. 

Horgan said, "I hope they get a huge catharsis." ■

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.