“They told us we were young,” explains a breathy voiceover with a heavy Northern Irish accent, “but we understood the enormity. We get what it’s about.” Those opening words—especially with Saoirse-Monica Jackson’s trademark trembling on the word “enormity”—would be enough to throw the viewer straight into the world of back Derry girls, albeit not played over home video footage of the show’s central cast, punctuated by balaclava-wearing gunmen, burning vehicles, and rosaries. This is 1990’s Derry, the backdrop to Lisa McGee’s deservedly acclaimed sitcom.
The series’ third and final season begins with the group of schoolmates trying to emulate the success of some East German teenagers by making a short film about the troubles. Although it’s actually a throwaway gag intended to introduce the episode’s main plot – the girls preparing to get their GCSE results – it’s typical of how the series handles its context. Derry girls deals neither with nor with the problems. Instead, it is about the resilience of human vanity and selfishness in the face of the greatest challenges. Likewise that MASH demonstrated his characters’ ability to be drunk and disobedient even under the constant threat of gunfire, Derry girls is an electric representation of adolescent monomania.
When there is a complaint that is frequently addressed Derry girls, it is its brevity. A total of 12 episodes exist (so far) with a running time of 25 minutes per pop. But this very British approach to series lengths allows Derry Girls to pick up exactly where they left off without requiring much off-screen character or plot development. Erin (Jackson) remains a runaway narcissist. Clare (Nicola Coughlan) continues to be a neurotic mess. Michelle (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell) hasn’t learned anything, while James (Dylan Llewellyn) is still English and Orla (Louisa Harland) is still Orla. This dynamic, which is beautifully balanced after the first two seasons, is not worth tinkering with. “We are girls. were poor. We’re from Northern Ireland and we’re Catholic for goodness sake!” Clare proclaims, fearing that failed GCSEs will lead to the end of the known universe. It’s as close as McGee gets to Alan Bennett; the rest of the farce is pure Molière.
While continuity is the name of the game, Derry girls cannot escape from one’s own success. The first episode of this new series is marred somewhat by a distracting celebrity cameo (so distracting that Channel 4 has sworn me to keeping his or her identity secret), but this represents a rare departure from the show’s tried and true formula. None scene inside Derry girls is always a far cry from a return to Erin and the shenanigans of the gang, or the wider machinations of the Quinn/McCool clan, such as the molested Mary (Tara Lynne O’Neill) and the wide-eyed, lecherous Sarah (Kathy Kiera Clarke). the same plumber, or hapless Gerry (Tommy Tiernan) helping his brutal father-in-law (Ian McElhinney) bury a murdered rabbit.
The episodes are so short Derry girls can feel frustratingly grumpy. But McGee impacted the show with such a sweet, endearing sense of chaos that the plot never really needs to be resolved. The credits and that ’90s gum splatter absolve the friends of any real responsibility for their actions. That’s the fairytale quality of Derry girls: We all know the hysterical mood of teenage emotions, but the stakes are kept reassuringly low. The peace process rumbles in the background with the abstract grandeur of history; in the foreground are all the other, much funnier problems of growing up. Nothing important ever happens, but nothing very important.
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/derry-girls-season-3-b2055623.html Derry Girls Season 3 recap: Lisa McGee’s electrifying portrayal of teenage monomania is back one last time