It Starts On The Page: Read ‘Bad Sisters’ Pilot Script “The Prick” By Sharon Horgan, Brett Baer & Dave Finkel

Editor’s note: Deadline’s It Starts on the Page features 10 standout drama series scripts in 2023 Emmy contention. It showcases the critical role writer’s work plays in a show’s success. All materials (the script and writers intro) were submitted before the WGA strike began on May 2.

In her Apple TV+ series Bad Sisters, which just won the BAFTA TV Award for Best Drama, Sharon Horgan examines the lengths that five sisters are willing to go to in order to protect each other. Much like her previous series Catastrophe, which earned her a comedy writing Emmy nomination, and Pulling, Horgan also stars in Bad Sisters.

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Inspired by the Belgian series The Clan, the story begins with a funeral. When the abusive husband of one of the Garvey sisters, Grace, dies, it is presumed a suicide until his life insurers launch an investigation to prove ill intent. Naturally, they suspect the sisters, each of whom have their own reasons to want him dead.

Written by Horgan, along with Brett Baer and Dave Finkel, and directed by Dearbhla Walsh, the opening episode, titled “The Prick,” sets the tone for the series, which rides the line between humor, drama and mystery as the sisters attend their brother-in-law’s funeral with mixed emotions. Meanwhile, a flashback sets up the did-they-didn’t-they question when four of the sisters are seen jokingly suggesting ways to kill their brother-in-law when he prevents Grace from attending the Garvey family’s annual Christmas morning swim.

Here is “The Prick” script with an introduction from Horgan, in which she discusses exploring family connection through the lens of a thriller and an abusive relationship through the eyes of love, adjusting the script on the fly, and realizing that unexpected obstacles can often lead to unexpectedly great outcomes.

What inspired me to write Bad Sisters was the original show which was a Belgian series called Clan.
It was the relationship between the five sisters and the premise: one of the sisters is married to a prick and the four sisters decide to kill him but they’re not very good at murder so they try and fail many times…a lot more times than in the original.
I was inspired to write it because I love writing about family and I love writing about relationships. I was thrilled at the prospect of exploring all that through genre and in this case, a thriller.
I hope people feel the fun in it when they’re reading it but I also hope they feel that we’ve addressed the story at the heart of it, which is that one of these sisters is in a very abusive relationship, a relationship that has coercive control at its heart, that has financial abuse and emotional abuse, and isolation. I hope they feel that that situation is given the respect and the depth of examination that it deserves, but also that we’ve found a way to also examine it through love and through the eyes of love. These sisters just can’t stand watching someone they love live like that. I hope readers really feel the rescue mission.
We knew it would be a tricky thing writing a series where you really have to stay on board and really stay behind and support what is happening, which is several attempts at a man’s life and I hope they feel we were successful in that.
There were a lot of changes made along the way and constantly. I was constantly rewriting because Covid was happening and people got sick or we lost locations or someone couldn’t travel. At one point we lost a car because the person who was delivering it got Covid. It was a constant moving of goal posts and I think the trick was to find a way to make it better every time, to find someone new and something fun.
One thing that got rewritten ended up mentioning Stanley Tucci. I wrote it on the fly and I put a Stanley Tucci joke in there and he ended up watching it and posted about it and that sort of went quite viral and was really amazing for the show. So sometimes really great things can come out of changes to the original script. And it continued to change throughout filming and in the edit you refine, and refine and you find that the heart of the story in each episode and across the series.
I hope people really enjoy this show and I hope they enjoy reading the script that led to the show.

Click on the image below to read the script.

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