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TV shows we love: Derry Girls

tv show

Erin, Clare, Michelle and Orla are regular teenagers: they keep diaries, they have crushes, they love pop music, and always seem to be getting in trouble. They’re also growing up amid terrorism, oppression and conflict. Welcome to Derry in the 1990s.

Inspired by writer and director Lisa McGee’s own experiences as a teenager growing up in Northern Ireland during the final years of the Troubles, it may come as a surprise that Derry Girls is, in fact, a comedy.

Broadcast internationally via Netflix, the Channel 4 show follows the group of friends as they navigate life at the end of the ethno-nationalist conflict between Irish nationalists and British loyalists. And despite the very unique historical period we find them in, their struggles and adventures as teenagers are universally relatable. And really, really funny.

Everyone can see a bit of themselves in angsty Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), her dreamy cousin Orla (Louisa Harland), anxious do-gooder Clare (Nicola Coughlan), foul-mouthed Michelle (Jamie-Lee O’Donnel) and her English cousin James (Dylan Llewellyn), who is always the butt of the joke.

The group are students at an all-girls Catholic school – even James, who, being from England, it was deemed safer there than at a boys’ school – and always seem to find themselves in absurd situations that make for laugh-out-loud moments, like being banned from a chip shop after accidentally setting fire to the owner’s flat.

The show’s madcap, sometimes slapstick qualities come with the help of an equally hilarious supporting cast of adults, but the writing keeps the narrative grounded with small reminders of the ongoing conflict; power cuts, fugitives and bomb scares are still present in their lives.

Now in its third and final season (although it is yet to land on Netflix), Derry Girls paints a very unique perspective of the time period, capturing how life went on despite social and political unrest. It’s also a hilarious reminder of how teenagers can see their own struggles as far more important than everything else going on around them.

 

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