Despite Apple TV+ series “Bad Sisters” follows four of the Garvey sisters as they spend almost ten episodes trying to kill a (somewhat) innocent man, Eva, Bibi, Ursula and Becka have captured viewers’ imaginations. Although it premiered without much fanfare the Ireland-based adaptation was well received. “Clan”It has become a popular sleeper hit, drawing in a growing number of fans cheering Garvey girls on as they race to the end.
Hours later, the final episode of Apple’s series finale aired on Apple TV (Oct. 14). VarietySharon Horgan, executive producer and writer (interview)“Catastrophe,” “Motherland”), who plays would-be matriarch Eva, to discuss the reaction to the show, as Claes Bang’s casting as villain John Paul (JP) and whether the Garvey sisters might ever make a return to the small screen.
What was the reaction to the series finale and the finale?
I haven’t managed to delve in as much as I’d like to online but I’ve been absolutely delighted. People seem involved and seem to really get on board. There’s so much great TV out there and you never know what’s going to capture people’s imaginations in a way that you hope it would. You spend that long making something – like two and a half years – and you’re sort of isolated a little bit. You just keep your fingers crossed that it makes it to the rest of the world. And oh, my God, it’s been amazing. I mean, I’ve been in New York and LA the last seven days and the response has been nuts.
How did you find the Belgian series first and decide to adapt it yourself?
It was post-traumatic. It was post “Catastrophe”And I was making films, and taking my time in figuring out what I wanted next. And then [Apple TV+ Europe boss]Jay Hunt moved from Channel Four and Apple. She was my boss during what we were doing. “Catastrophe”There, she took me to lunch and said: “What do you want to do?”I was just mentioning a few things that were up my sleeves, and she went. “Oh what about this – it’s an adaptation of a Belgian series.” I can’t tell you how little I was in the market for adaptations of Belgian series. It was not an hour-long thriller. It was completely outside my comfort zone. She said, “Just watch it.”The first episode was the one I saw, and it made me feel like I was going to do it. Once I realized that I had something to contribute and that I could make it my own way, I was ready to go. It’s good to do things where you take yourself out of your comfort zone. I was in a sitcom-like groove for half an hour and I loved what I did. However, writing about relationships and writing about parenthood and family, all wrapped up in one genre, taught me so much. It was also an opportunity to create something on this level. [Horgan’s production company]Merman, the opportunity to put on a show like that was a huge one and we loved it.
There are many aspects to “Bad Sisters” are very faithful to the original, even down to some of the Garvey sisters’ names, but there are also some substantial changes, like JP almost drowning after he’s been drugged instead of being hanged in his garage. How did you decide which elements to keep and which ones to change?
My take on adapting anything is never change something for the sake of it, only change it if you’ve got a way of making it better or have a specific take on it. I was able to hold on to the things I loved while also wanting it to be totally different. Every episode of the original series is a murder attempt. There’s a high body count and there’s all sorts of Chinese mafia and hitmen. I was determined to make each one of these situations a reality. The murder attempts that I tried to keep I did not want to let go. So anything that was just great and really fun, and even specific lines I’ve kept in here and there, anything that was great, because why would you change it for the sake of it? It is important to see things from a different perspective. And if you have that, then it’s definitely worth doing. You can make it better if you feel that you can contribute to it.
There are many characters in the story, particularly the five sisters at its center. Did it make it difficult for each of them to have space to share their stories with the audience?
It was very difficult. We ended up cutting out a lot of the footage that we had filmed. I was captivated by all the sisters during the script stage. They each have their own situations. We spent more time with their families during the scripting stage. But then when it comes down to it, you’re writing something that has such a driving force in it, which is the cat and mouse of the Claffins trying to discover foul play and then the murder attempts themselves. It’s often you find that you don’t want to go off into a more domestic, character-based tangent. At script stage we took out a lot, and at edit stage we took out a lot. This is normal. Your story is often found in the edit.
It was difficult to keep the audience cheering on the sisters as they tried to kill JP. Not when Minna, the paintball instructor, and Oscar, the dog, were involved.
It was. I mean, the main thing that kept an audience on side is the odiousness of the villain and I think as watchable as he is, and at times as funny as his performance was, he’s a despicable man. And over the course of each episode, especially when you have the episodes that focus on each of the sisters’ own personal reason for wanting to kill them, as soon as that started piling up, I think, then I was less worried about an audience staying on board. As the story progressed, I was aware that it would get more complicated and more information would be revealed. It was clear to me that if I got it right, the audience would catch up. The longer you spent with sisters, even the snipiness or shiftiness, all of that just makes them more relatable, more human, so you’re more on side. And of course, Grace’s situation at the heart of it, just seeing her personality being stripped further and further, I feel like we kept the audience on board.
Absolutely – JP was like toxic masculinity personified. Speaking of which, how did Claes Bang end up in the role – was that an obvious choice for you?
Not at all. It was. [casting director] Nina Gold’s idea. It was something I would have never thought of, even though I was a huge fan. In reality, I thought that casting him was going to be a great thing. He isn’t an Irishman, he is an outsider. That added to the character and added to his kind of anger in a way that he’s never quite gonna feel part of that family or even part of Ireland. I’m so grateful to her because even though he was someone I’d sort of admired I just wouldn’t have put him in that role.
Obviously, it’s a limited series, it has a very definite ending, but people really are asking to see more of the Garvey sisters. Is it possible to bring them back?
Well, it’s a really weird one, because it absolutely ended where it ended. I was only able to watch the original series once, and it was a very short series. The ending felt satisfying. But it’s been mad, the response, especially to the to the sisters, especially to that family. It’s a tricky thing to come up with characters that an audience love and so – I don’t know. If I had a great idea and thought it was worthy, then I might have a good idea.
The final scene, in which the sisters leap into the Forty Foot. [a bathing pool at the edge of the Irish Sea]. It’s a beautiful scene but how cold was it?
It was beautiful. It was completely Baltic. We all experienced different levels of hypothermia. There’s old ladies and men and youngsters just jumping in and out and getting on with their day and we’re like, sitting around shivering under foil towels and being handed hot water bottles. Our bodies weren’t used to it. I was nervous. Not for me, but for the cast members. It was only a small amount of cold water swimming that we did before the event, but it wasn’t enough to make you feel any better. It was definitely worth it. Because it’s such a beautiful thing to see and putting the Forty Foot on screen, I feel like it was something I haven’t seen before. It added something.