Derry Girls. You’ve either watched it, or you haven’t lived. Just kidding. But I really think you’re missing out if you haven’t seen this show yet.
Set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles conflict, the Netflix original follows the lives of a group of teenagers growing up in the city of Derry (AKA Londonderry). The lead character, Erin, is a 16-year-old girl who attends an all-girls Catholic school, along with her friends Michelle and Clare, her cousin Orla, and Michelle’s English cousin James. The group get up to a lot of mischief, and end up in trouble with their parents or with school quite a lot.
If you’re not versed in the history of Ireland in the ‘90s, there’s no shame in that. But since Derry Girls is centered around this conflict, I’d recommend that you have a surface-level knowledge of the Troubles before you watch the show. Don’t worry, no deep research is necessary; just reading the introductory paragraph of the Britannica article (linked above) should be enough.
Derry Girls is considered by most to be a comedy, but it also has a lot of heartfelt, emotional moments that put into perspective what it was really like living through the violence of Ireland in the 1990s. It highlights the life of normal teenagers who a lot of us can relate to, and shows how they’ve found a sense of normalcy through something so life-changing. Derry Girls often zeros in on the perspective of the adults as well, putting emphasis on the contrast between the attitudes of the teenagers — who are more concerned about boys and their school nemesis, Jenny Joyce — and the adults, who just want to keep their families safe.
Derry Girls is the perfect show if you’re looking to watch something new this St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a celebration of Irish culture, an ode to teenage life, and a history lesson all in one. If you need to laugh, or cry, or maybe both, then Derry Girls is for you.