Series One of ‘Derry Girls’ was released five years ago!


Watching Derry Girls feels like a warm hug. It is one of the funniest, most sentimental programmes I’ve ever seen, and when it ended last year, I put off watching the finale episode because I just couldn’t bear the thought of my life without the girls (which includes James of course!)

But let’s think instead of the good old days when the show first graced our screens in 2018. The story follows well-behaved but bad decision-

Via Channel 4

making Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), her eccentric cousin Orla (Louisa Harland), everyone’s favourite wee lesbian Claire (Nicola Coughlan), the wild boy-obsessed (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell), and her English cousin James (Dylan Llewellyn), who becomes the first-ever male pupil at Our Lady Immaculate. The series opens in 1994 amidst The Troubles, an ongoing conflict between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. This doesn’t sound like a particularly funny setting for a successful comedy considering the bomb threats, checkpoints, and military presence everywhere but actually, it sets light to some very funny scenes! In the second episode, the hilariously monotonous Uncle Colm gets tied to a radiator by a member of the IRA, to which Orla’s mum, played by Kathy Kiera Clarke, jumps on the bandwagon and appears in TV interviews with him. The girls then find themselves re-enacting the radiator debacle when they accidentally end up burning down a chip shop. The biggest shame however was that the family couldn’t get chips for life! Another stand-out series one moment was when the group found a terrorist in the boot of their car on their family holiday, and he actually seems to be quite nice! 

The premise of Derry Girls has the ability to get heavy at times, but it never does (well, apart from if we consider Claire’s dad in the final episode but self-care is turning it off before you get there!) The beauty of the show is it reverently displays important historical moments, sometimes making you cry, but it never falls into the dreaded ‘dramedy’ genre, sticking solely to hilarious punchlines and events throughout. 

Via Channel 4

It’s hard to choose a favourite character from the show; they each have hilarious attributes that make them stand out, which is a credit to writer Lisa McGee, who makes each character stand out as an individual. I do however love Erin’s mum and dad who have a very funny power couple name: Mary and Gerry from Derry. Played by Tara Lynne O’Neill and Tommy Tiernan, the duo provide a hilarious home life for Erin and Orla where the chaotic nature of Mary is foiled by the cool, voice-of-reason nature of Gerry. The mark of a good comedy is being able to relate, and the Quinn parents are recognisable in every home. Additionally, Erin’s grandfather lives with the family, played by Ian McElhinney, who constantly tells Mary she should leave her husband. Gerry and Joe’s bickering is one of the highlights of the whole show for me, as again, it’s so relatable! 

Episode six of Derry Girls is one of the best (and it’s really hard to pick a favourite!) because every character gets their moment in this episode. Riddled with constant academic pressure, Erin becomes Editor of the school newspaper, but can’t find a story. Everyone but the girls ditches the paper, so in a panic, Erin accidentally outs Claire! Meanwhile at home, the ditzy Aunt Sarah is accused of hiding dark washing from Mary who is desperate to avoid putting on a half load (it goes against everything she stands for) but turns out the red docket was in there, causing Joe to pretend Gerry is committing identity fraud when he cannot pick up their anniversary photos. And while this is going on, Orla is preoccupied with her new hobby, step aerobics, and she’s so talented at it that her Mum (or Mam) is concerned she won’t get to have a normal childhood. I love this episode because there’s a huge extravaganza of sub plots going on, and the emotional ending perfectly portrays growing up during conflict, as well as sending a strong message about being gay in a hostile time. 

Derry Girls is the comedy show of our generation! At the heart of the programme is friendship and family, which makes it a heart-warming watch!

Watch Orla’s Step Aerobics routine here:

Channel 4


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