“Derry Girls” is a wonderful show: funny, heartfelt, and of a place (Northern Ireland) and a time (the ‘90s) that aren’t what you typically see in a comedy.
I’d heard about The Troubles growing up, but the causes and effects were always a bit foggy. You wouldn’t think an “ethno-nationalist conflict” would be a good backdrop for a comedy, but “Derry Girls” proves that’s not true.
This show is set in the late stages of The Troubles–a time when all the characters have lived with violence and bomb threats and a militaristic presence for so long it’s become part of the scenery. But when there are hints of peace, the jolt of hope is palpable. Despite not having any personal connection to these people or this place, I was moved when news of a cease fire spread through the town.
The entire cast is on point, and each person has a hook: Erin thinks a bit too much of herself; Clare is a vociferous do-gooder; Michelle is itching to break rules; James is kind and a bit hapless; and Orla is weird in the best possible way. The secondary characters work well, too. They all gel, and that’s no easy task with a large ensemble.
The show clicks in season two, with “The Curse” representing the series’ high point. In this episode, the group attends a wedding and a funeral (the funeral being a result of events at the wedding), and everything goes off the rails. The episode revels in chaos, but it works because at this point the actors embody their characters and we know their characters, so no footholds are required. Cinnamon scones and “Rock the Boat” will always be funny to me.
Season three of “Derry Girls” is forthcoming, but delayed (fuck you COVID!). This show still has unique stories to tell because the creators avoided the high school trap–it’s about relationships, not arbitrary milestones.
What happened to the baby? In season one, the Quinns have a baby named Anna. I didn’t specifically watch for this, but I can’t recall a single moment in season two when that baby showed up.