TV Review: Derry Girls, 3×1, “The Night Before”

User Rating: 9

Lisa McGee is an incredible Irish writer. Evidence for this can be found in her series Derry Girls, which calls Netflix its home. For uninitiated audiences, Derry Girls follows Erin, Clare, Orla, Michelle, and James, as they navigate and experience Derry, Northern Ireland, during The Troubles in the early 90s. The format of this show is pretty simple. Erin gets in her head about grades, boys, or competitiveness with other girls and ropes her group of friends into helping her out. Usually, comedy ensues to hilarious effect because the group often does the wrong thing in an attempt to correct some awful mistake they made. This leads them to more trouble and forces them to be even more frustrated with themselves by the end of the episode.

Derry Girls is now in its final series, or season as we call it in the US. The first episode focuses on the group learning about their exam grades sparked by their form tutor, the irrepressible Sister George Michael of the Catholic school, who indicates that they may have done poorly on their exams. This sends Erin and Clare into a mental tailspin because they want to be able to get into their college of choice, and they can’t do that if they have failed their GCSEs. Erin makes a brilliant plan to break into the school and look at her grades and help the group find out what the grades they achieved were. As you can imagine, hilarity soon ensues because the girls are forced to help some gentleman inside the school remove some expensive computer equipment and are later arrested.

The one aspect that makes Derry Girls so incredibly special involves the conversations the entire group has with each other. It’s the equivalent of five people who all have separate organized thoughts about dealing with a situation triggered by someone else’s anxiety. The anxiety, in turn, fuels panic, which causes rash decisions to be made. The most likable person out of the group has to be Clare. She is the practical one of the group and is always trying to find out the best possible scenario for the entire group to avoid being in trouble. Erin is the type of girl who always has to have a plan for everything, and if for one second anyone thinks that she’s not capable for one second, she starts to believe until her friends remind her just how talented she is.

This is what makes the friendships so endearing and the show so heartwarming. No matter how much chaos any member of the group causes, they’re always there for each other when it comes down to it. The loyalty these girls and one guy show is symbolic of the type of friendships we all wish we had growing up. Having the confidence to do the wrong thing because you know your friends will steer you the right way is what navigating through life is all about, and this show touches on that theme as many times as it can to remind us how capable we all are of success or great chaos. It’s a delightful show that leaves its mark on television not for what it attempts to teach the audience but what it tries to remind the audience friendships can be. That’s a lesson I think is worth learning for everyone.

Derry Girls is now streaming on Netflix.

Written by
Chike has been a film critic in Illinois for the last 10 years with Urbana Public Television. Most of his work can be found on their YouTube channel where his show Reel Reviews is posted. The films he enjoys most are the kind that surprise you with characters that are deeper than you could ever suspect. As much as he loves reviewing it’s the stories that are unexpected that bring him the most joy. He lives in Champaign with his parents surrounded by cornfields.

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