Title: Derry Girls
Release Date: 2018
Creator and Writer: Lisa McGee
Director: Michael Lennox
Production Company: Hat Trick Productions
I visited Derry, Northern Ireland in the 1990s and this nostalgic comedy seems to fit my memories of the city. Derry is known internationally for being at the heart of The Troubles – the ongoing sectarian fighting, riots, and terrorist bombings in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s to the late 1990s. But I also remember Derry being something of a party town. Derry Girls captures the everyday life of the city’s citizens amid bomb threats that cause traffic delays, soldiers inspecting a school bus, and a family taking a holiday to avoid the Orange Orders’ “marching season.”
The core group of teenagers in this show are Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), her live-in cousin Orla (Louisa Harland), Erin’s friends Clare (Nicola Coughlan) and Michelle (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell), and Michelle’s English cousin James (Dylan Llewellyn), who is the only boy at their all-girl Catholic school because it’s feared that his English accent would make him a target for violence at the boys’ school. The quintet get themselves in all manner of trouble at school with the misanthropic Sister Michael (Siobhan McSweeney). Erin’s family also play a big role and they’re all generally awful in amusing ways.
The show is kind of an odd cross of “The Facts of Life” with the movie Heaven Help Us and and “Father Ted,” with some sectarian violence thrown in. But really, despite the unique setting, the show is strangely relatable.