If you’re looking for something to binge watch this New Year’s, post partying but while sipping Bloody Marys, look no further than Netflix’s Irish import Derry Girls, written and created by Lisa McGee.
It’s like if Skins and The Inbetweeners had a tv baby, and sent that baby to private catholic school. I came upon this little gem by accident, you know how Netflix is always recommending shows for you to watch because you watched something else? Well, this popped up on my queue, and I said, okay, I’ll give it a go! I laughed until I cried. I even snort laughed, which in my opinion is the BEST kind of laughter. I paused this damn show to go to the bathroom, and to go and make something to eat! I never do that, except maybe with Timeless, but that’s the exception to the rule.
I quoted these girls and their family members for the remainder of the day, and I have since re-watched it six times now. Its safe to say, I’m a fan. Please, Netflix, send me to Ireland and let me interview this cast; I love them all!
Derry Girls takes place in Northern Ireland, in a town called Derry or London Derry; depending on your persuasion, in the late 1990’s. For those of you who are too young to remember that time period, there was as lot of conflict going on in Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland; between the Irish Nationalist/Republicans who were mostly Catholic and the Protestant/Unionist who were British Loyalist.
This conflict was based upon Northern Ireland wanting to leave the U.K. and have a united Ireland and the Republic of Ireland wanting the Northern Irish to join the U.K. They fought against each other from October of 1968 until The Good Friday Agreement, that ended the conflict, which was signed in April of 1998. Derry Girls is not meant to be a history lesson but it is, and it’s built around the humor of teenagers living through this conflict, around their fierce loyalty to their homeland but the ever changing attitudes of the world in which they live. At the core of the show is family, to include extended family, and our friends, who become our family. There is also a lot of Irish Catholic humor thrown about and slang words I didn’t know I needed but now I cannot find enough ways to incorporate them into my everyday vernacular.
Did I mention the soundtrack is amazing? I mean I lived through the 90’s so, I could have done without some of the songs, mainly because I hated them when they were actually being played on the radio, but most of it was on point and thematically relevant and woven into the story quite well. The show centers around a group of high school girl friends, Erin, Michelle, Orla, and Claire, except for their one male companion, James who is Michelle’s British cousin come to live with her after his mother divorces his stepfather.
This is where the story begins. With the start of the school term. There’s a bomb on the bridge and the girls are trying to get to school. What is so striking is that this bomb, and this conflict, is so normal to them, they talk about it like we would talk about the weather. None of them bat an eye when they go through a military check point on the school bus.
The most significant plot point introduced here is that James will be attending their all girls catholic school because his mother was afraid he would get beat up if he attended the all boys school due to him being a “Lima,” or Brit.
Michelle sells Avon on the side to make extra money and she hands out the latest catalog on the school bus while trying to kick some first years to the front of the bus so she and her girls can sit in the back. This altercation goes horribly wrong and the girls are later accused of bullying. Meanwhile Claire is fasting for Kamal, a wee Ethiopian fella who has to walk 25 miles to the nearest well to fetch his water. Orla later comments “Is he just fond of wells then?” Ha Ha! Dude, I was in tears at the entire monologue and I’m not going to spoil it for you here, you just need to watch and be ready to snort laugh.
The first day of school is always rife with nonsense and the girls experience no less. They are sent to the head nun’s office for bullying, where they receive detention, and are then accused of killing the nun running the detention. Their parents come busting in cursing about the “bloody bomb” that no one has been able to defuse and tell the girls not to say a word until they get a lawyer. Yeah, its safe to say none of my first days of school started or ended like theirs. Thanks be to God, I love this show! There are only six episodes and all of them are 21 to 24 minutes each, so you can breeze through this brilliant import swiftly and in a day.
Each episode brings a new challenge for the girls to overcome. Episode two finds them wanting to go on the school trip to Paris but not being able to afford it. Jenny the school Prefect tells them to dip into their trust funds, since that’s what she always does. The girls ask their parents about dipping into their trust funds, and Erin’s mom responds with “Catch yourself on!
Erin is beside herself as are the rest of her friends, so they decide to get jobs, but that doesn’t go well either. They end up almost burning down their favorite fish and chip shop and are still not going to Paris. #Pizzaisnotasnice, You will get that later, and trust me its delivery will be no less hilarious.
The episodes are not linear so I guess if you wanted you could jump around but they are all so much fun that you won’t want to. I was sad that there were only six episodes. Europeans really don’t believe in making shows longer than 10 episodes and most of them fall somewhere in between 6-10 eps. I need season 2 ASAP people! \
Episode three is MY FAVORITE. The girls are getting ready to sit for their exams and none of them have studied. Erin hosts a sleepover, thinking it will help them buckle down and study, but Claire is hyped up on energy drinks and Erin’s dog has just died so she is beside herself with grief. “Sweet suffering Jesus its morning already? We haven’t studied at all.” Freaking hilarious! They end up running into the chapel on their way to the bus stop, following a ghost dog who looks like Erin’s beloved Toto. Claire begins to pray that they will pass their test but she thinks, she sees the Virgin Mary smirk at them and cry. They all feel like they shouldn’t have to sit for the exams, since you know, they witnessed a holy miracle but the head nun is having none of their foolishness. There are so many lies and jabs at one another and James in particular that you almost wonder where Lisa McGee got her material? Was she a catholic school girl? Is this based on her own childhood experience? It all feels so real and right plus, it’s funny as shit.
Episode four find the quartet + James hosting a Ukrainian teen who Erin thinks is so poor, that she’s never seen a television, and Ireland must seem like a paradise compared to Russia. That commentary ends badly for Erin. The girls + James get invited to a house party, where there’s lots of alcohol, line dancing, a chocolate fountain, and thoughts of losing their virginity at said house party. These girls are killing it, in every episode. I think that’s what drew me in, the female cast and the chance for them shine in a usually male dominated genre of high school antics and bawdy humor.
Episode five sees the family trying to get out of town to avoid the Orange Walk, they head over to the Republic, on a camping trip, to get a reprieve from it all, but find a stowaway in the trunk of their car. Should he stay or should he go? The family has to decide, as the stowaway is part of the IRA. Michelle thinks the IRA lad could grow on her if it weren’t for the tinge of red in his hair, and god only knows what’s lurking down below if his hair is red! It turns her stomach to even think about it, so she says. Then, I snort laugh! And press rewind.
The final episode features Erin taking control of the school newspaper, however everyone quits because they think she’s a ruthless bitch. LOL! So, she has to recruit her friends to help her, and they decide to write about shoes of the world and lesbians. Much to the chagrin of the head nun. Claire, later decides to come out to everyone and at first no one is supportive. However, by the episodes end they all have her back, as true friends should, and they dance it out, as customary in every relationship. I heart these girls and their struggles as well as their triumphs. Please go watch it, NOW! I am never ever wrong about shows! Go ask my friends, I’m like a TV show Yoda.
Derry Girls is streaming now on Netflix. Hit me down below with your comments or follow us on Twitter.
All gifs courtesy of Tumblr.