And so Derry Girls hop-scotches into the sunset after a successful second season (the last episode is on Channel 4 tonight at 9pm). Once again, the biggest surprise about the Lisa McGee hit is not that a late-period Troubles comedy could be a rich source of chortles. It’s that we all so very desperately miss the ’90s.That seems to be true even of people too young to have meaningfully experienced the Nineties first time around. For some reason, the decade of grunge, boybands and cynicism pouring from our pores and through the walls continues to exert a deep fascination. Why this should be so, is a matter sociologists could spend forever and a day interrogating.
What’s unquestionable is that Derry Girls paints a halcyon picture of a time when the music was better, the fashion was… more interesting and selfie moments weren’t a thing.
In her portrait of female friendship in the pre-social media age, McGee pleads a powerful case, moreover, that life before the internet was in many ways superior. Nobody had a mobile phone constantly distracting them and a Twitter storm was what happened when a flock of birds took fright en masse.
How far have we come in the interim? Not quite the distance we might like to think, is the implication. So what have we leant?
1 The music was just better back then
From The Cranberries’ ‘Dreams’ to Cypress Hill’s ‘Insane in the Brain’, at its most assured Derry Girls is a valentine to the pre-internet music era. The soundtrack brims with nostalgia – season one, for instance, treated us to ‘Alright’ by Supergrass, ‘Unbelievable’ by EMF and ‘No Limit’ by 2 Unlimited (which yielded surely the greatest nineties pop couplet in “I’m making techno” and “I am proud”).
This was a golden age for pop, the show quietly argues – perhaps the last golden age. Rap-metal was coming over the hill and then music downloading would bring the industry to its knees. But in 1994 we’d never had it so good.
Most impressive of all is the way Derry Girls conjures the era without resorting to clichés such as grunge or early Britpop (which was just about twinkling on the horizon circa 1994). Even techno cheese-mongers D:Ream come away with their reputations burnished. Continue reading