Sister Acts: ‘Echoes’ and ‘Bad Sisters’ Drive Sibling Secrets to Stream


Starring Michelle Monaghan in a dizzying dual role, “Echoes” follows identical twins Leni and Gina, who have spent years perfecting the most awkward sister act imaginable: going together every year on their birthdays, then trading places every year to spend the next 12 months living the other’s lives.

However, when one of them goes missing, it opens the door to potentially uncovering a ruse but also raises thorny questions about their past, which trickle down in a series of flashbacks, including the death of their mother and a fatal fire. — and the local sheriff (Karen Robinson) draws attention, the only character having any fun.

Produced by Brian Yorkey, “13 Reasons Why’s” features a solid cast, including Matt Bomer and Daniel Sunjata as the twins’ concerned husbands in “Echoes,” and Michael O’Neill as the stoic but concerned father.

While often true to these lofty concepts, the series feels more tortured as it stretches, where the alternating which-sister-did-what beats are not only difficult to follow but also challenge your patience in terms of jargon. Motivated to try. That’s despite Monahan’s recent addition to a long list of actors who have held both sides of the conversation for some stunt double.

Netflix gets a lot of mileage out of mysteries like this, but for all its Contortist-worthy twists and turns, “Echoes” starts to look like a fascinating plunge and never quite out of the shallow end of that gene pool.

“Bad Sisters,” meanwhile, is a more complex structure, but boils down to a simple question: Who and what killed the horrible husband of one of five extraordinarily close sisters, all of whom have reason to isolate him. Do they hate the way they treat their siblings?

Created and co-starring Sharon Horgan (“Catastrophe”) as the eldest of the bunch, the show features Eva Birthistle, Sarah Greene and Eve Hewson as the plot quartet.

Still, the lead role belongs to Claes Bang (“The Northman,” “Dracula”), who torments his wife (Anne-Marie Duff) and quietly plots to harm and undermine her siblings, including Horgan’s Eva. Who he works with.

Darkly funny, the show operates in different time frames, with the latter involving a pair of insurance agents (Brian Gleeson, Daryl McCormack) who become convinced that foul play was involved in John Paul’s death. Unfortunately for them, John Paul is such a committed jerk that the sisters have no reason to want to see him out of the picture.

There’s an almost Rasputin-like quality to the sisters’ early ill-fated endeavors, with Eva remarking at one point — when someone proposes staging a work-related accident — “What are we going to do, the paper will kill him?”

Adapted from a Belgian series, the story drags a bit too much along the way, getting lost among a maze of side alleys and subplots. And while those threads come together nicely at the conclusion, the most apt recent comparison is another Apple entry, “The Afterparty,” which had interesting twists but took too long to unravel its mysteries.

For all that, “Bad Sisters” offers stronger payoffs than “Echoes” and feels less distant, which goes a long way toward helping justify the investment. In the streaming realm, like family, those kinds of relationships bind.

“Echoes” and “Bad Sisters” premiere on Netflix and Apple TV+, respectively, on August 19. Disclosure: My wife works at an Apple unit.



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