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The enduring appeal of ‘Derry Girls’: Fare thee well, we’ll miss you


By Sarah Finnan
17th May 2022

IMDb

The enduring appeal of ‘Derry Girls’: Fare thee well, we’ll miss you

As the third and final season of ‘Derry Girls’ comes to a close, Sarah Finnan reflects on why the series has meant so much to so many. 

It’s been four years since Derry Girls first hit our telly boxes. Warming the cockles of our hearts with its wit, charm and complete relatability, the series catapulted the city of Derry to international acclaim… for a much more positive reason this time. As Ian McElhinney (a.k.a. Granda Joe) once told me, its appeal is universal. 

Derry Girls is the best of us, you see. It’s funny, it’s irreverent, it’s inherently Irish – the likes of which we haven’t seen on TV since Father Ted or perhaps Nadine Coyle’s passport gate. Few things define our cultural identity so succinctly, but Lisa McGee is no ordinary writer and this is no ordinary show. 

Bringing light (and humour) to otherwise very heavy subject matter, the series “fuses hilarity with political heft” – always with the utmost grace and the sharpest of wit. It’s both a time capsule of 90s fashion, culture and trends, and a history book retelling of our country’s troubled past. It shouldn’t work, but it does. 

Introducing the world to Erin, Clare, Michelle, Orla and James – five of the most troublesome teenagers you could possibly come across – viewers have essentially grown up with the characters over the course of the past three seasons. We laughed, we cried, we shouted profanities at our TV screens. Their joy was ours, as was their pain, and we rooted for them as if we knew them personally (many of us felt as though we actually did). 

But the time has come to say goodbye… and it feels like secondary school is ending all over again. Seeing the series out in true go big or go home fashion, the story comes to a close this week with a special two-episode finale. “Like all the very best 90s bands, I couldn’t resist ending our farewell tour with an encore for our loyal fans,” McGee said in an interview last month. 

“I’m delighted to say we’ll be returning for one extended special – airing the same week as our final episode. The special deals with the historic and momentous Good Friday Agreement vote, which coincides with the gang’s coming of age, they enter adulthood just as Northern Ireland embarks on a new future,” she continued. 

“I’m so proud of this show and of our incredible cast and crew and everything we’ve achieved over the past five years. What a journey it’s been. I’m so grateful Channel 4 gave me the space to end the stories of these characters that mean so much to me with this special. I really hope the fans love it as much as I do.

“Derry people aren’t great at saying goodbye so I will instead use one of our native expressions ‘That’s us away now’,” she finished. 

How do I love thee Derry Girls? Let me count the ways. You’ve been a familiar friend throughout the years and saying goodbye is none the easier to this lowly Longford gal. Sorry, I’m not being an individual on me own…

Catch the season finale of Derry Girls on Channel4 tonight at 9pm.