“That’s some good craic”—Why you should watch Derry Girls
Updated: Mar 9, 2021
My first ever interaction with an Irish person was on a family holiday in Scotland. My sisters and I were hanging out under a bridge, as you do, when two 10-year-old ginger Irish brothers appeared. We smiled and invited them to our game, but having never heard an Irish accent before, our eyes suddenly widened, confused by their response. We had absolutely no idea what they were saying. Was it a “yes, we’d love to play with you,” or did they opt for a “not right now, thank you”? It could just have easily been a “get away from our bridge, you foolish girls!”
As a car rumbled over the bridge, I think I stammered out an “our mum’s calling! We’ll catch you later!” (which would have also been an appropriate reply to the potential threat), and we ran home to tell everybody about our Irish encounter.
I would never have guessed that 12 years later, I’d be forging my dream plan to move to Ireland to 1. pick up the very accent that first puzzled me, and 2. become a true Derry Girl. If they’ll take James, surely they’ll take me! Yes, this entire voyage is inspired by a TV show, and despite the comments from my Irish friends that Ireland is not 100% the Ireland Derry Girls makes it out to be, the fact that I’m packing my bags tells you that it’s a series well worth a Wednesday night watch.
Care to join me for some good craic? Here are 5 reasons (though there are many more) why you should watch Derry Girls. Oh and, if by chance any 20-year-old ginger Irish brothers—who visited Scotland in their youth and know the bridge I’m talking about—read this, hello and did you want to play our game?
1. Derry Girls is hilarious, with comedy true to its time.
In the best way possible, the show is very un-American. We grew up on US TV and often, the comedy shows felt staged and predictable. But our favourite UK shows are memorable and lively, making bizarre mountains out of ordinary molehills, they usually remind me of my own family life. The repertoire on par with this description includes Derry Girls, Outnumbered, Sex Education, Crashing… Although I only grew up in the last year of the 90s, the humor in Derry Girls feels familiar. The characters have their own distinct personalities and responses to the school-, politics-, or whatever-it-is-related storyline, but they approach each scenario seriously, as though they are an everyday occurrence. I can’t possibly list every funny moment as they are so nuanced, but here are some favourites:
· James’ true thoughts about Fionnula’s chip-shop
· Digging up the dead dog
· The Derry Girls dancing to “their song” at the Ukrainian-mixing party
· When Michelle thought the run-away was her soulmate
· Orla’s step aerobics obsession
· The entire Gypsy/Traveler incident (polar bears, Take That, code red on the bus)
· The conversation between the girls, Mae, and Jenny Joyce about diversity
· Shoutout to the mothers, Mary and Sarah, for their reactions to everything
2. It’s a show about true friendship.
During challenging moments—although Clare sometimes crumbles and dobs in the others—the girls stick together to support one another (think back to the final episodes of both seasons: on the school talent show stage and with Bill Clinton’s speech in the background). They each have their flaws, they’re outspoken and call each other out, but at the end of the day, they are fiercely loyal to each other. They might even remind you of the siblings and friends who you grew up with yourself.
3. The characters aren’t perfectly polished people.
Even though the show focuses on Erin’s and Orla’s family, if you were to watch a random episode with no Derry Girls context, you’d have a hard time pinpointing a protagonist. This is good writing—the show focuses on relationships and doesn’t rely on one person to drive the entire plot forward. Any character could be placed in a room with a completely random one and there would be enough content to film an entire season.
This goes to say that the characters reflect real-life people who have their distinct flaws. We laugh, smile, cry, ridicule, empathize with, hate, worry, and get angry with each character as they try to navigate school and life and friendship, as we all do. Sometimes Erin is a bit annoying, Orla too eccentric, Michelle, aggressive, Clare, exasperating, and James, whiny, but we love them just the same.
The example that best depicts this “real-life, growing up” narrative is s2, ep.5, The Prom. Everything from Jenny Joyce’s singing to Erin’s uncomfortably turquoise dress, Michelle’s sneaky credit card swipe to Orla’s dance partner, and Clare’s date debacle to James’ compassionate rescue, makes me smile.
4. The political climate isn’t at the forefront of the show but is nonetheless weaved into the characters’ lives.
Although Irish political events are scattered throughout the show (Orange walks, Protestants vs. Catholics, soldiers based in their hometown), the final moment of season 1 indicated that the country was going through something more serious that I realized. While the parents are processing the news of a bombing, the Derry Girls are dancing on stage. This example is not to say that the teenagers don’t understand or acknowledge the situation, it’s just that political strife is weaved into their daily lives and is considered ordinary. It resonates with me, having grown up in Thailand during coups and protests, where these things just happen.
5. The actors seem just as close in real life, too.
After watching Derry Girls, I spent the better part of a day watching their interviews, following them all on Instagram, and noting their appearances on GBBO and The Crystal Maze. If the actors’ relationships are anything at all like they were presented in their 2020 Comic Relief skit, I’ll be happy.
I do hope you’ll consider watching Derry Girls and join me in advocating for 50 more seasons… I hear s3 is in progress(?)... sources please confirm. And, Lisa McGee, if you need another British character on the show, or even something who is trying to get the hang of a Derry accent, it would be crackers to consider me.
- MT, 23/01/2021