Turning tired Northern Irish stereotypes to ashes in front of our eyes

THE GUARDIAN MARCH 10, 2019

This episode featured a hopeless Protestant/Catholic school bonding trip, not helped by Jamie Lee O’Donnell’s incorrigible Michelle, a girl so lairy I wouldn’t put it past her to give a priest a wedgie. Meanwhile, “Small angry penguin woman” Sister Michael (Siobhán McSweeney) was on scene-stealing form again: “You’ll go far in life, Jenny, but you’ll not be well liked.”

Derry Girls, written by Lisa McGee, was another returning comedy that refused to succumb to “difficult second series” syndrome. Set in 1990s Northern Ireland, against the backdrop of the Troubles, Derry Girls once again boasted a sprawling cast with spirit to burn. Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson) pontificated about peace from a bath, while Orla (Louisa Harland) sniped: “She’s pretending she’s on Parkinson again.” Ma Mary (Tara Lynne O’Neill) obsessed over a “big bowl”, while lesbian Clare (Nicola Coughlan) suffered Da Gerry’s (Tommy Tiernan’s) attempts to bond with her about kd lang (“You’re very talented people”).

Derry Girls has been rightly praised for turning tired Northern Irish stereotypes to ashes in front of our eyes. It’s also damn funny, with an ensemble so fine-tuned it verges on comedic ballet, and prickly writing that even dares to lampoon the yearning for peace: “All right, Erin, there’s no need to make a big song and dance about it”. Great stuff.

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