‘Bad Sisters’ Finale: Sharon Horgan on [Spoiler] Killing J.P., Casting the Garveys & More

Sharon Horgan in 'Bad Sisters'
Q&A
Apple TV+

[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for the Bad Sisters finale.]

In Bad Sisters, Earl (J.P.) had to die. The Apple TV+ dark comedy came to a close October 14, finally revealing who killed Gracie’s husband, J.P., in the end. And while all of the Garvey sisters need therapy after the months they’ve had, the finale ended on a peaceful note with all five of the sisters swimming together again.

An adaptation of the Belgian series Clan, Sharon Horgan stars as eldest sister Eva Garvey. Her four sisters are Anne-Marie Duff as Gracie, Eve Hewson as Becka, Sarah Greene as Bibi, and Eva Birthistle as Ursula. When J.P. (Claes Bang) abuses Gracie and everyone else in their sphere, the tight-knit Garvey sisters plot to kill him. We know from the pilot that someone was successful on that front, but the show spends all 10 episodes teasing who did it and how, telling the tale from two different timelines.

Here, star and creator Horgan breaks down the Bad Sisters finale to TV Insider.

Sarah Greene, Eve Hewson, Sharon Horgan, and Eva Birthistle in 'Bad Sisters'

Apple TV+

I finished watching the finale last night, and I loved it.

Sharon Horgan: Aw, thank you so much. Did it surprise you, or were you getting to the conclusion you thought?

I was a bit surprised, but I was happy about it! I saw it coming a little bit, but you really teased it. It could go any way.

I think that’s the thing. Hopefully, if people think they know who did it, I think midway through they’ll be like, “Oh, no, she didn’t!” I think it does lead you down some good alleys.

What I love the most about the ending is that it ends on a happy note. It doesn’t end with punishment for the sisters. I feel like some people would think, “Well, they killed a person, so punishment is deserved.” And it’s kind of like… I think he deserved it.

I know what you mean. It was a bit of a thing, you know, we didn’t love to feel triumphant. I think all of them are damaged. Ursula’s relationship is over, and you can see even how, when Grace sort of turns away from Roger [Michael Smiley], she’s not gonna be the same woman in any way. But just that moment with the sisters, when they all get in the water, that’s what they wanted: to get back. And they get that thing, you know? I think it was allowed have emotion. They’re together, and it’s emotional.

Honestly, I can’t deny I would consider doing the same if one of my sisters was being abused.

And you know, most people who are put through that same thing, they have. In that situation, if pushed, if someone hurt one of your family members, what would you be prepared to do? A lot of people have said the same thing.

Yeah, absolutely. And no one comes out unscathed from this, but the biggest threat is resolved, which to me is the happy ending.

Yeah, exactly.

When you were casting all of the sisters, did you have the characters laid out pretty clearly already, or did you cast actors you knew fit and could flesh out the roles even more on their own?

Oh, no. The characters were very, very clear. Casting wise, it was a mixture of people I really liked and thought I could be a family with for 10 months, and it was people who I knew could be funny and dramatically would take you there. And then it was who could be Irish and who fits into this chronology of ages for the sisters. So really, it was only those girls who could do it. I’m just so happy that they all said yes. They were so perfect. It was a tricky bit of casting, but we had an amazing casting director as well, Nina Gold, who had the brilliant idea of casting Claes Bang as well, so I’ll be forever grateful to her for that.

At the end Bibi says, “You’re only as happy as your unhappiest child, and she’s grand now.” I love that line. Do you think Eva sees her sisters as her babies? I definitely see being an older sister as kind of like a quasi kind of parenthood, and I think older sisters definitely get put into that role sometimes too.

Oh my God, and especially in Ireland. If you got younger brothers and sisters, you’re basically just a little ma. And of course, that’s what happens to the Garveys, because they lose their parents prematurely. But, you know, there’s a little of my older sister in Eva. She’s was sort of an instant mother hen. It felt like quite an Irish thing, but also I sort of drew on my own experience of how I felt about my older sister and how she made me feel very looked after and protected.

Claes Bang and Anne-Marie Duff in 'Bad Sisters'

Apple TV+

In the end, we see that everything J.P. accused other people of were actually projections of his own horrible deeds, even down to like the pedophilia he accused the priest of. When you were writing this, did you see him doing this deliberately to cover up his actions? Or was it kind of like an uncontrollable projection on his part?

He’s just a very religious, righteous man who cannot see his own faults, really. He can sort of see his weaknesses in a way, but instead of dealing with it in any way, he’ll just turn to the next vulnerable person and grind them down a little further. Even when when it came to the rape, he would never have seen that as a rape. He wouldn’t even feel like he has to cover up what he’s done, because he would never see it in that way. His own iteration of how he’s in the right is much louder in his head than what anyone else says.

Honestly, good riddance. I hate that guy. The whole season I was like, “God, he’s a cockroach. He can’t be killed.” But then, when he finally died, it was a very effective.

[Laughs] Yeah, that’s it.

There are lots of mysteries resolved in the finale. What were the challenges of keeping the pace of the separate timelines so they would all come to simultaneous conclusions?

That was one of the main challenges. And in actual fact, we were just having to keep rewriting as it went along, because it did sort of become obvious pretty quickly what stories were worthy of your attention while this crazy, plotting a man’s murder is happening, and then in the other timeline, the cat and mouse of trying to figure out who did it. It was a balancing act really trying to keep it all up in the air and trying to work out how much domestic life you can see in and around that, how much time can we spend with Ursula and her family or, Bibi and Nora [Yasmine Akram]. All of those things had to be jigsawed.

And I had to keep it tonally ticking along as well, because it’s a very serious subject matter at the heart of it, but it’s also surrounded by a lot of silliness, you know? So it was balancing the tones as well. That was probably the hardest thing.

Anne-Marie Duff in 'Bad Sisters'

Apple TV+

Was it always the intent to have Gracie kill him? Or did that ending kind of reveal itself to you during development?

No, because it adapted from the Belgian original. The idea of Roger’s involvement, that’s something we figured out. It was actually the idea of one of our executive producers, and I was like, “Well, that’s brilliant.” We thought about changing it from the original and finding a different murderer, but it never felt in any way near as satisfying. We just wanted to make sure we did it in our way.

I feel like it was important for Gracie to have done it for her own character arc.

Absolutely. Completely, totally.

Keeping the sister dynamic clear through the whole thing, I imagine, was fun and also kind of tricky too, because these aren’t just people thrown together by circumstance. These are like a very tight-knit group of sisters who are fluent in each other.

Yeah. The great thing is that you get to be really snippy with your sisters more than anyone else. You trust that they’re not gonna turn on you or leave you, so I feel one of the easier things was keeping that sister dynamic to the forefront. Because even when they’re really angry at each other, there’s still love there. It’s still fun to watch, and they turn really quickly and forgive each other. They fight and they spar, but it always felt like family. When it got to the end, that’s when we knew we wanted the collateral damage of what they’ve been doing over the course of these nine episodes to really backfire and that they do start turning on each other. We could only sort of fracture them at the end, because I think what people like watching the most was the sisters being together. And so you didn’t want them to become too disparate too quickly.

Bad Sisters, Streaming Now, Apple TV+