Creator: Malin-Sarah Gozin
Starring: Barbara Sarafian, Kristine Van Pellicom, Ruth Becquart, Maaike Neuville, Inge Paulusson, Dirk Roofthooft, Geert Van Rampelberg, Robbie Cleiren
The Out-Laws begins with the funeral of Jean-Claude Delcorps, husband of Goedele, father of Bloeme and brother-in-law to four sisters who have been trying to kill him in order to make everyone’s lives better. The story is told via flashbacks, interspersed with a current day investigation of the nefarious events by an insurance company. Each episode getting closer and closer to the time of his death, unfolding the tale as we learn more and more about the events that happened over the past 10 months.
The five Goethals sisters; Eva, Birgit, Veerle, Goedele and Bekka, were close and would still be close to Goedele if it wasn’t for her controlling and abusive husband Jean-Claude, affectionately known as The Prick (or “De Kloot”).
We quickly meet two brothers, Matias and Thomas DeWitt, who have a family-run life insurance company and who are about to be closed down unless they can invalidate the Delcorps’ claim by proving it wasn’t an accident. As such they are going to investigate Jean-Claude’s death for suspicious circumstances and that involves interrogating the sisters.
It doesn’t take long before we find out Jean-Claude’s true nature. He is selfish, self-centred and obnoxious, nasty to pretty much everyone, manipulative and despicable. He whiles away his spare time playing horrible tricks on people and generally spying on people to gain leverage over them to his own advantage, or at least to belittle others to make himself look better.
A half-hearted, drunken plan, hatched on New Years Eve after Jean-Claude has ruined another evening for Goedele and the sisters, leads to the first real discussion on killing “De Kloot” and making it look like an accident. This is initially dismissed as drunken rambling but another public example of Jean-Claude’s unnecessarily cruel behaviour towards Goedele causes Eva and Birgit’s resolve is to harden. And so we begin!
What follows is wonderful and absurd as the sisters plot and plan their way to getting their sister back, including explosions, poisoning and electrocution to name but a few of their attempts. Each plan is meticulously thought through but each time their target seems to escape at the last second due to some unforeseen chance happening. There is a gradual inclusion of the other sisters, Veerle and Bekka, until they are all involved and bringing their own expertise to the table with their ideas for getting rid of “The Prick”. As the series progresses, and to keep it interesting, so does the tension-building investigation by the DeWitts as they uncover as much information as possible in their efforts to save their business and find the truth in this. This isn’t helped when matters are complicated further by Matias and Bekka’s fledgling, Romeo and Juliet romance, both being pressured to end it whilst at the same time suspecting each other but continuing anyway.
The acting is superb throughout. The sisters are central to everything that occurs and they completely own their roles. Eva is the eldest sister who had to take the responsibility for raising all of the sisters when their parents passed away. She is solid and dependable but lonely. Veerle is a bit of a dreamer and is married to Wouter but also having an affair. Birgit is stoic and determined and quite serious most of the time. Goedele is a wonderful person, patient, kind and eager to please her husband no matter what. Bekka is the youngest of the sisters and is still finding her way in life. Bouncing from boyfriend to boyfriend, job to job she has no real direction yet but is endlessly enthusiastic.
The standout performance for me is from Jean-Claude. He is completely believable as the horrible object of hate. Everything he does negatively effects someone else and if he can gain from it he will make sure that he does. In doing so you find yourself actively rooting for the sisters to succeed in bumping him off and getting away with it.
This series is done with some really dark humour and it works very well. It can’t be easy to take a subject such as this and turn it into something funny and entertaining. The sisters are likeable, you can see the strong familial bond that they have, and you genuinely feel for the plight of their sister being abused by the obnoxious and controlling Jean-Claude. It is well written and the plot comes together into a great crescendo. I can highly recommend watching this series, you won’t regret it.
THE OUT-LAWS is released on DVD Monday 19th September by Nordic Noir & Beyond.