This story about Sharon Horgan and “Bad Sisters” first ran in the Drama Series issue of TheWrap’s awards magazine.
One of Sharon Horgan’s goals in an already illustrious career as a showrunner and actor (including beloved British series such as “Pulling” and “Catastrophe”) was to create more varied, interesting roles for women. AppleTV+’s “Bad Sisters” allowed her the chance to do it five times over, in a twisty, addictive yarn about siblings who band together in the aftermath of a creep husband’s mysterious demise. (He’s not called “The Prick” in the show for nothing.)
First, congratulations on making probably the funniest drama series of all time. The narrative genre lines really do seem to be blurring on TV, don’t they?
I’m just going to accept a compliment and not be Irish about it. [Laughs] You know, I come from a sitcom background. So that’s where I felt my most comfortable, but I always felt that dramatic storylines and dealing with subject matter that wouldn’t necessarily be deemed sitcom fodder was a big part of what I did. When I started out writing “Pulling” with Dennis Kelly, we were really nervous about some of the stuff we wanted to deal with. But now it’s just incredibly liberating, you know? It’s a sky’s-the-limit kind of thing.
When did you first see “Clan,” the Belgian series “Bad Sisters” is adapted from, and when did you know you wanted to rework it?
When Rob Delaney and I were working on “Catastrophe,” [AppleTV+ head] Jay Hunt approached me and asked, “What about a drama?” I just thought, “How do I take on someone else’s world and make it my own?” But in all honesty, I watched the pilot episode and got the gist of what the narrative would be. And there were five sisters at the heart of it. And I thought, “Well, go for it.” Because you have to develop and grow as a writer, and I was sticking in my safety lane.
As a cocreator and writer, you probably could have chosen any role in this story. What made you choose eldest sister, Eva?
I didn’t know initially, and we talked about it a lot. All of us wanted to play Bibi [played by Sarah Greene], because she’s got an eyepatch and shoots a bow and arrow and it’s all very exciting. [Laughs] But with Eva, I was drawn to the story of the eldest sister who’s had to compromise and put other people first and whose life slipped away from her a bit, and things haven’t necessarily panned out. But there’s a lot of authority and love in there.
I’m not sure what the show’s viewing trajectory was like in the U.K., but in the U.S. “Bad Sisters” had the most incredible slow burn. People were still watching it and commenting on it nearly six months after it first aired, which almost never happens in streaming TV.
When it first came out, we were like, “Oh, great, nobody’s watching.” [Laughs] I think what worked in our favor is that it came out on a weekly basis, and because of the thriller nature and the cliffhangers, people started talking about it. I love the idea of people waiting for something on a weekly basis. There are some things that really need to build and that benefit from that, so it becomes event TV.
Has Ireland’s Forty Foot, where the sisters meet up for a swim and gab, become the Irish version of the “Joker” stairs now?
Our director Dearbhla Walsh was there doing a bit of preparation for the second season. There was a lady from the States swimming there who [had] made a little pilgrimage to go there, and it’s the most amazing thing to hear. The Forty Foot is, honest to God, a magical place. I can’t wait to go back and do it again.