By Olivia Moody
A series I’ve watched in its entirety countless times, Derry Girls is something that I’ll be turning to during the uncertainty of social distancing we are currently facing. By now, I’ve binged the series with my housemates at uni, watched it of an evening with my family, and had it playing in the background when needing a little pick-me-up. On each occasion, I’ve laughed and cringed my way through the Channel 4 sitcom as if I was watching it for the first time, making it the perfect source of both entertainment and distraction from the outside world.
Centred around the day-to-day life of headstrong teenager Erin Quinn, portrayed by Saoirse-Monica Jackson, the series situates itself amidst 1990s Northern Ireland and the nationalist conflicts that were coming to a close around this time. It explores the ups and downs of life for a group of four Irish Catholic teenagers, Erin, Orla, Clare, and Michelle – and Michelle’s English cousin, the slightly effeminate and a little bit pathetic James – as they attend the all-girls high school, Our Lady Immaculate. Over the two series that have aired, the Derry Girls (James included) encounter the troubles typical of their demographic: formulating an identity in such changing times as theirs, exploring sexuality, understanding the reality of relationships, and coming to terms with what their religion and nationality can mean for them.
Saturated with dark humour and satire, the writing of Derry Girls encapsulates perfectly the frustrations of teenage life, using Erin as a vessel to convey such things as a lack of privacy at home, struggling to catch the attention of numerous potential love interests, and convincing her parents of her independence. An aspiring writer herself, excerpts of Erin’s diary find themselves intertwined with the wider narrative of each episode (though often through no efforts of her own), this personal insight providing an audience with something they can very much relate to. This is arguably one of the most appealing elements of the show: amongst the humour and second-hand embarrassment that is put forth, there is much to resonate with in the show’s writing, regardless of whether you have any experience of living through the contextual history of it – we all in some way have a little bit of Erin within us.
It is because of the writing of Derry Girls that I find myself returning to it again and again. With each watch, there is something new to be observed, and rewatching some of the earlier episodes with the knowledge of what is to come massively complements the comedic moments that well-timed comments create. This isn’t something that many shows today can boast of (BBC Three’s This Country is the only other show on air at current that I can think this applies to). When combined with the melodramatic and reckless energy of each episode, Derry Girls offers numerous compelling reasons for you to give it a try.
Offered on streaming platforms such as Netflix and 4 On Demand, there’s no excuse not to give Derry Girls a watch, be this binging an entire series in one go (definitely achievable!), or dipping in and out with far less commitment. With a third (and seemingly final) series due to be filmed this year, now is the perfect time to get acquainted with the show in anticipation of the concluding episodes.
Derry Girls is a show from which you can come and go without any long-term commitments, and it’s an easy and mindless watch. If you’ve already watched it, watch it again. If not, give it a go. It offers abundant light relief from the uncertain and anxiety-inducing circumstances we’re currently in, and I think it’s the perfect way to pass the time and combat the isolation.