[TV REVIEW] Derry Girls finds comedy in conflict


Fair Use: Derry Girls Official Trailer on Netflix

Jackson, Harland, Coughlan, O’Donnell, and Llewellyn completely immersed themselves into 1990s Derry style and mindset, mixing the fear of the time with self-centered angsty teen hormones.

The TV show Derry Girls has rightfully garnered an avid fan base at home and abroad as it takes a new comedic perspective while dissecting a tumultuous and violent time in Ireland’s history. 

Though the release date for season three of the show is unknown, its fans have been waiting for news since the last episode of season two aired on April 9, 2019.  The show written by Lisa McGee follows a pack of four teens on a journey of friendship and self-discovery (your classic coming of age story). McGee, however, chooses to set their story in Derry, Northern Ireland during the 1990s. For those who are unfamiliar with Ireland at the time, there is ongoing hostility over the division of Ireland into a British and Irish part. Derry was a center of that debate due to its split Catholic-Protestant population, and during the 1990s had paramilitary groups and police everywhere, causing large-scale violence and unease in the area. McGee releases into that environment: Erin Quinn an ambitious writer, Orla McCool Erin’s oddball but loveable cousin, Clare Devlin the moral compass, Michelle Mallon the wild and unruly daredevil, and James Maguire Michelle’s British cousin who is the first boy to join their all-girls school after he moves to live with Michelle in Ireland. 

As the static faded from the speakers and the first episode of Derry Girls slowly came into focus on screen, an overwhelming feeling of excitement came over viewers across the nation, the kind when something good starts. Since then, the show has garnered a base of devoted fans, who watched the two seasons, with a total of 12 episodes at around 22 minutes each. What first drew viewers in were the complex characters, not your average teens in a movie about dealing with life and school. Jackson, Harland, Coughlan, O’Donnell, and Llewellyn completely immersed themselves into 1990s Derry style and mindset, mixing the fear of the time with self-centered angsty teen hormones (a hilarious combination). What intrigued people for the following episodes and season, was the plot, which delved into really important political issues while it kept teenage hatred of school and rules. Don’t expect your normal highschool drama when watching, the plot-lines are some of the oddest, yet most hilarious, to grace the genre of TV comedy with episodes on: “divine” encounters, paramilitary stowaways, and more. Overall, McGee took a really uncertain time in Ireland’s history and wrote the perfect tale of that climate from the perspective of kids just trying to grow up and learn about themselves and the world. 

While raving about the series for hours is easy, it does have some issues that viewers should take note of. First, although the TV show is a hit outside of Ireland, many of the jokes and sub-plot lines are reliant on an understanding of Irish culture, history, and comedy. There have been amazing reviews from people who weren’t as informed about the Irish background, but it is highly recommended (if possible) to watch the series with an Irish friend! That way, viewers can get all the jokes and have great company in addition (a win-win for all sides). On that note, be prepared to rely on subtitles, Derry accents can be difficult to understand at times and viewers won’t want to miss a moment just because the characters were speaking too fast and with a heavy accent. Lastly, just a warning to audiences watching with younger children,  the TV show is a coming of age story and thus (in typical fashion) does deal with sexuality and alcohol, while for high school viewers the show would be completely fine, maybe keep younger children watching another TV show (PBS Kids is always a good fall back). 

Rating: ★★★★☆

While waiting for the third season, you can watch (or rewatch) the first two seasons of Derry Girls on Netflix