Otherwise known as Clan, Belgian series The Out-Laws sure goes down smoothly, which is all the more extraordinary considering the "black" part of this black comedy is, well, as black as it gets.
The feature-length pilot episode, available at SBS On Demand, introduces us to the Goethals sisters, a close-knit fivesome of women who are about to experience the most trying time of their lives.
To whet your appetite, here are the most tantalising ingredients of The Out-Laws.
Four out of the five Goethals sisters have managed to remain as close as their long-deceased parents would have liked, but one particular Goethals named Goedele (Inge Paulussen) has strayed. She's fallen under the spell of her bullying monstrosity of a husband, Jean-Claude Delcorps (Dirk Roofthooft).
When the series begins, Jean-Claude is already dead, and no time is wasted revealing the remaining four sisters are responsible. The first season then spends its duration flashing back and forward while addressing, in the most delicious possible fashion, the following questions: why did they kill him and will they get away with it?
The dynamic forged between this talented foursome of actors is as convincing as it is impressive – their interactions feel lived-in, and seem propelled by decades of love and tension. Remarkably, when the sisters are separated and their individual stories (and reasons for wanting Jean-Claude dead) come to light, the story is just as riveting.
While the main reason behind the decision to commit the crime is to rescue their sister from an otherwise inescapable situation, we learn that each sister may possess a separate, less-selfless motivation to want the man dead.
Eva Goethals (Barbara Sarafian)
Eva has been taking care of her siblings ever since her parents died in a tragic accident when she was 19. Now on the other side of middle age, and nursing memories of failed romances and infertility, Eva works at the same company as the late Jean-Claude, and they both happened to be up for the same promotion at the time of his death.
Veerle Goethals (Kristine Van Pellicom)
Married with children, Veerle is a practising nurse, a skill she often uses to benefit her life outside of work and that may come in handy post-murder. This loving stress-head may very well be the heart of the group, but she’s also been carrying on an affair – one the late Jean-Claude had discovered in the months prior to his demise.
Birgit Goethals (Ruth Becquart)
Smacking of Daryl Hannah’s character in Tarantino’s Kill Bill, Birgit, who lost her eye in her days as a crossbow champion, is the hardest and most intense of the bunch. She's also the Goethals sister most interested in taking the initially light-hearted joke of murdering Jean-Claude into the serious arena.
Bekka Goethals (Maaike Neuville)
As the youngest and most tempestuous Goethals sister, Bekka could easily end up the group’s undoing. When not drinking/smoking up a storm or bringing a different man to every family dinner, she runs a massage parlour under the moniker “Bekkalicious”. She’s an outspoken character who should neither be under- nor overestimated.
The insurance men (Geert Van Rampelberg and Robbie Cleiren)
Matthias and Thomas Dewitt run a small insurance agency founded by their recently deceased father. Unfortunately, due to a slew of recent payouts, the agency is about to tank. Their response to this plight? To investigate any imminent claims for foul play, as foul play means no payout. And their first investigation? The death of Jean-Claude Delcorps.
Jean-Claude makes everyone’s life miserable. Tactless and vindictive, he has no qualms with teasing Eva about her infertility or pretending to be a doctor and prank calling an inconsiderate neighbour to reveal they may have testicular cancer. He’s your typical bully – showing no empathy towards his targets yet expecting unconditional empathy in return.
The first series of The Out-Laws is available at SBS On Demand.
Watch the first episode: