One would do well to discover this gem.
What has and will no doubt be billed as The Inbetweeners with girls in 90’s Ireland, Derry Girls is so much more. Mining that tragicomic and finding both absurd humour and that searing in the all too terrible circumstances facing the city, it’s no mistake that one of The Cranberries’ most illustrative numbers bookends this series.
Distinct from the aforementioned British phenomenon, Derry Girls’ first season, six episode arc situates itself around less common though in the hands of the cast still relatable instances, among them a perceived miracle and a (supposed) IRA stowaway hitching a ride out of town. Permitting some exaggerated hijinks and a stage for the charismatic troupe to meld and work their chemistry, each episode is a different and relishable delight.
Each of the four main players (Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Nicola Coughlan, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell & Louisa Harland) steer well drawn, ever-entertaining characters through their myriad of challenges, even if the latter is stapled as the at times less original, fourth, light on their wits member of the crew ala Jersey Boys and, yes, The Inbetweeners.
The group’s interactions are minute by minute laugh out loud funny even if at times expressions are unduly exaggerated, with highlights including spiralling events surrounding a fib and, of course, the final few moments of the season finale. Combined with the fundamentally hilarious premise and presence of James (Dylan Llewellyn), the newly arrived Brit being heaped in with the girls school because he wouldn’t survive the boys school is the basis for no end of comedy and light to not so light jibes at the unfamiliar presence to those concerned of such an Englishman in Derry.
While some of the gags, most notably a recurring bit about James’ sexuality, are repetitive and stretched a little thin, for the most part the show welcomely relies on humour endemic to each distinct entry and scenario. The presence of the aforementioned gag does however set the stage and tone for a later, more involving development that transpires in manners not unrelatable and by no means unique to this setting.
The series too benefits from a fine adult cast, first and foremost Siobhan McSweeney as Sister Michael, having an absolute ball as the dry, jaded nun in charge of the girls’ (and James’) care. Tara Lynne O’Neill nails it as Erin’s mother while Game of Thrones’ Ian McElhinney as Grandpa Joe brashly spars with Dad Gerry (Tommy Tiernan) in a dynamic that, most especially given the latter’s moniker, may just be that bit on the nose for Rick and Morty fans.
Regardless of its few misgivings Derry Girls is a fine addition to any easy-watching afternoon and absolutely binge-worthy; season two cannot come soon enough.
Derry Girls is now streaming on Netflix