Also known as Clan, this Belgian black comedy series is about four sisters who try to kill their horrible brother-in-law Jean-Claude, lovingly referred to as “De Kloot/The Prick”. In flashbacks, we see the sisters try, and fail, various outrageous ways to try and dispose of “De Kloot” while in the present, after he actually dies, two hapless insurance agents on the verge of bankruptcy desperately attempt to prove that he was murdered, so as to avoid paying out on the insurance claim. All of which is made more complicated by the fact that one of them has unknowingly entered into a relationship with the youngest sister.
The four sisters form the backbone of The Out-Laws and they are indeed wonderful, both together and individually. Eva (Barbara Sarafian) is the eldest and is essentially the family matriarch, acting as the group’s foundation and source of strength. Initially appearing rather frosty and cold, we gradually realise that she has gone through a certain traumatic event and the revelation in the penultimate episode, which reveals her true motivation in wanting Jean-Claude dead, is incredibly shocking, dramatic and exciting. Eva is probably the most interesting character in the series and her story arc and development is very engaging.
Then there’s Birgit (Ruth Becquart), the former crossbow champion, now with an eyepatch, who is often the most extreme and dangerous of the four and who greatly channels Daryl Hannah in Kill Bill (she does actually hold up the DVD in one episode – coincidence?) Married-with-children Veerle (Kristine Van Pellicom) is a nurse and effectively becomes the group’s medical expert; Jean-Claude finds out that she is having an affair, thus providing the primary motivation for wanting him dead. And then the youngest is Bekka (Maaike Neuville); quite often immature and childish, she is also one of the more interesting, fun characters. She brightens up the series with her exuberance and naivety and watching the other sisters get exasperated with her behaviour is wonderful. All the sisters are great together and we constantly support them throughout.
And of course, there’s the Prick himself, Jean-Claude (Dirk Roofthooft). He is a truly wicked, despicable antagonist and certain moments will make you shout “Oh my god, he really is a Prick!”, particularly when he retires to his attic, picks up the phone and causes all sorts of mischief such as calling in pest controllers to a Chinese restaurant who got his order wrong or posing as an 8 year-old boy online, sending . . . suggestive messages . . . to his neighbour the local scout leader, laughing hysterically afterwards. Jean-Claude clearly gets a kick (that’s an appropriate word, given his horrific treatment of a certain cat) out of ruining people’s lives and it gets us to support the sisters all the more.
The series successfully delivers an exciting drama with a definite sense of dark comedy, blending them together nicely. Over the course of the first few episodes, one by one the sisters join in the plan to kill Jean-Claude, each episode coming up with a novel way to get the job done, but it always seems to backfire in a darkly humorous way. Though it gets slightly predictable after a while, it is so much fun finding out what the girls will come up with next and watching their plans go awry is very entertaining to witness.
However, I felt as though the series quality started to slightly decline after the first few episodes; after a while it begins to get a tad predictable and it doesn’t quite retain the unique quality that it starts off with. The series also gets more serious towards the end, losing some of its dark humour and this transition is quite “bumpy” and is a bit off putting. Saying that, the last two episodes provide a great climax.
As numerous Twitter users have agreed: when it comes to dark chocolate or dark comedy, the Belgians know what they’re doing!
An entertaining, darkly humorous series with great characters and a thrilling central mystery.
★ ★ ★ ★
And just for fun, these were my (mostly) weekly episode tweets!
- #TheOutLaws – Excellent start, keep it up! And it seems as though Vincent Franklin is playing The Pr*ck! 😁 #WalterPresents
- #TheOutLaws Episode 2: They just keep on missing the target! The Pr*ck is turning into Rasputin – just won’t go down! #WalterPresents
- #TheOutLaws Episode 3: And they bungle the job again! Another amazing episode. 😁😁😁
- Oh, what day is it? That’s right – #TheOutLaws Friday! 🙌 Too bad I have to wait until Sunday to watch it. 😞 #WalterPresents
- #TheOutLaws Episode Four: Star of the show? Birgit’s red skull & crossbones eyepatch! #WalterPresents
- #TheOutLaws Episode Five: And just like that, I’ll never be able to look at black pudding the same way again! 😂 #WalterPresents
- Great #TheOutLaws episode tonight; the stage is set for an awesome finale! 🙊
- Aww, it’s the last episode tonight!
Enjoy it, 🎶Little DaaaaaAAAhlings!🎶