“Well, I’m not being an individual on me own!” Clare Devlin exclaims, expressing frustration when her best friend Erin Quinn breaks the news that she’s not breaching dress code this school year as they had planned. Clare and Erin are just two of the hilarious and lovable characters on “Derry Girls,” the hit sitcom about growing up in Ireland in the nineties. The Netflix show follows Erin, Orla, Clare, Michelle, and James as they run into all kinds of trouble in their hometown of Derry (“Or Londonderry, depending on your persuasion,” Erin writes in her diary).
Creator Lisa McGee draws the inspiration for her show from her own experiences growing up in Derry, which is the second-largest city in Northern Ireland. From participating in Catholic-Protestant youth retreats and attempting to befriend Chelsea Clinton, to dealing with bomb-threats and occupations as a result of the political climate, McGee has a way of portraying Derry in a way that resonates a little bit with everyone.
Many of those involved with the show have received messages from around the world about how viewers have connected to it in their own ways. For today’s American teenagers, those of us who have grown up in a post-9/11 world full of active-shooter drills and our own tumultuous politics, it’s an almost uncanny reflection of how we tend to react to our environment. “Derry Girls” carries a similar attitude toward its political climate that American teenagers have adopted – an odd sort of flippancy and sarcasm in the face of severity. If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry; which is a concept “Derry Girls” blends seamlessly into its story.
But even if you remove the politics from the show, it’s still incredibly hilarious and an absolute delight to watch. Season two in particular showcases some strong performances, especially from the show’s lead Saorise-Monica Jackson but also from Nicola Coughlin, who plays Clare. Plus, the accents alone are pleasing to the ear (be sure to watch with subtitles to catch all the words), and the girls’ ridiculous antics have you hanging on to each episode, wondering how it’s all going to wrap up at the end of the 25 minutes. Each episode is better than the last, making it hard to not fall absolutely in love with these characters by the time you’re done.
It’s not a hard binge either – there are only six episodes a season, and only two seasons out so far. The whole series totals less than six hours, and it’s all available on Netflix, so it’s perfect study-break material. The UK’s Channel 4 has ordered a third season, but it’s yet to be determined when the new episodes will air, and even further until they join the other two seasons on Netflix for the rest of the world to enjoy.
This hidden gem on Netflix is one you’ll find yourself returning to again and again, just for the fun of it. You can take it from me, but you’re much better off finding out for yourself: “Derry Girls” is a cracker show, and if you don’t know what that means, you can find out here.