“Derry Girls” was a funny, realistic story of everyday life in a time when that didn’t seem possible. “Derry Girls” features a 16-year-old Irish girl, Erin, and her friends who are living in the midst of The Troubles, when Protestant loyalists and Catholic nationalists were pitted against each other.
Instead of being dark and bleak, it shows a lively culture, where everyone gets worked up about small issues and remains stoic about the looming violence.
The writers did a great job of showcasing how normalized the fighting was. In one scene, the girls are on the school bus when they get stopped by guards at a checkpoint. Instead of freaking out about the armed men and the possibility of being bombed, they’re more concerned with getting good seats.
This culture of fighting is also shown through the character of James, Erin's friend’s cousin. As a British citizen, everyone hates him, mocking him in really mean but hilarious ways. James is forced into attending a Catholic girls school because of his nationality, since he would’ve been beaten up and severely hurt in any other school. Even his cousin, Michelle, hates him for it.
In each of the episodes, the girls, along with James, keep getting into shenanigans that are absurdly funny but really relevant issues, like when a priest struggling with faith latches onto them, or when they get stuck in the middle of a anti-Catholic Orange march.
Outside of politics, it’s also a genuine depiction of a teenage girl’s life. Erin is god-awful at flirting, loves greasy food and is just trying to figure herself out. Her friends, from panic-prone Clare to ditzy Orla and rebel Michelle are all just trying to be themselves, sometimes showing this in really brave ways.
I also really liked how James was the one following their lead. The men in the show were funny and great characters, especially Erin's father, who is continually feuding with his father-in-law, but the real focus was on the women and their lives.
They were the ones driving the plot, which was something I really haven’t seen too often. I thought that was pretty cool. Erin also had really funny facial expressions that added a lot of comedic value for me. When she gets angry, she kind of looks like a pug.
All of the characters talk very quickly and somewhat urgently, making every situation seem more dramatic. Whether it was fighting over birthday pictures or a run-in with an IRA member, every problem was given the same seriousness. “Derry Girls” covered everything, from a widespread love of the local chip place to the prominent Catholic element.
“Derry Girls” was so good because it cannot be boxed into one category. It handles comedy, history, drama, romance and friendship without being too heavy-handed. It’s both light-hearted and meaningful.