Every so often a show comes along that makes me laugh, cry and most importantly, think. That show is Derry Girls.
I was going to watch Parks and Rec for the billionth time when I decided to give Derry Girls a try. And trust me, it’s not getting the buzz it deserved. The show follows a group of friends as they navigate teenage life in Northern Ireland during The Troubles in the 1990s. When it premiered in Ireland in 2018, it quickly became the most viewed show in Northern Ireland.
Just a tiny history lesson if you have no idea what I’m talking about: the Troubles was a guerrilla war between British loyalists and Irish Nationalists that technically began in the late 1960s (the conflict can be dated back to 1609) and ended in 1998 with an agreement. It was basically a fight to see if Northern Ireland should stay with the UK or join the Republic of Ireland.
The group consists of Erin, Orla, Clare, Michelle, and Michelle’s cousin James. Erin is the unofficial leader of the group; Orla is that airhead friend of yours, who’s got her head in the clouds; Clare is the goody two shoes, overly anxious one of the group; Michelle is your stereotypical chav character; And Michelle’s awkward British cousin James is the first boy to ever attend the group’s all-girls Catholic school.
The show is only six episodes, but writer/creator Lisa McGee makes you fall on love with each character. She grew up in Derry, so in a way, the sitcom is a bit autobiographical. The show’s main focus is Erin, but each character has their own individual problems from sexuality to doubting their religion and loyalty to Northern Ireland.
Season two is set to premiere in March 2019 and is already in talks for a third season, so I can’t wait to see the character development that McGee comes up with. Even though it’s not one of those shows where you need to know what happens in the previous episode in order for the turn of events to make sense, I do recommend you look up the full history behind The Troubles to understand some references and jokes.
But you don’t have to be from Northern Ireland to truly appreciate the plot. In the season finale, Erin’s family is standing around the TV, watching the news talk about a bomb that went off in Northern Ireland, killing twelve people. In their faces of sadness, I saw my parents. I’m from New York City and I was in the fifth grade on September 11th. I was a preteen, I thought nothing was bigger than my problems. But like Erin and her friends, that was the day that I learned that there are bigger issues in the world. I remember watching my own parents standing in front of the TV, watching the footage play over and over again; and me, not fully understanding the magnitude of what happened.
Not only is Derry Girls the perfect depiction about how vital it is to have your girl gang to always be by your side. But given the growing political discourse going on in America, we can all definitely resonate with what the characters are going through. It’s made such a huge cultural impact back in Northern Ireland, that in preparation for season two, British station Channel 4 has commissioned that a mural should be painted of the cast.
Derry Girls season 1 is currently available on Netflix.