A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Derry Girls is an Irish comedy series centered on a group of high school girls in the early 1990s, against a backdrop of the Northern Ireland conflict (commonly referred to as "The Troubles"). The show references guerilla warfare, bombings, and the military but it is presented very matter-of-factly and at times like an inconvenience (a character's parents seem more concerned about a potential bomb scare causing the school bus to be delayed than about the actual bombing). The girls often joke around about sex and make crude references -- one talks excitedly about a potential class trip to Paris in terms of all the Frenchmen she'll be able to "ride," their male sidekick is constantly being referred to as "gay" against his many protestations), but there's no nudity or actual sex scenes. Some "funny scones" are eaten (think the Irish version of pot brownies), characters smoke and drink (and have hangovers to prove it).
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
DERRY GIRLS takes place in Ireland in the early 1990s, a time of tense political and religious conflict -- but to the quartet of teen girls at the heart of the show, military checkpoints are just another fact of life to roll their eyes at. They're more concerned with issues like how to raise money for their class trip to France, given that none of them have trust funds like their schoolmates, or how to sneak out of detention in time to see a cute boy's band perform. Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson) is the self-styled intellectual of the bunch, dropping references to Samuel Beckett that fly over everyone's heads. Her drifty cousin Orla (Louisa Harland) has her head in the clouds and thinks nothing of stealing Erin's diary and doing dramatic readings from it. Foulmouthed, Pernod-swilling Michelle (Jamie-Lee O'Donnell) has a bark worse than her bite, and is totally boy-crazy. High-strung but sweet Clare (Nicola Coughlan) is a well-meaning ball of nerves who doesn't know when to quit when it comes to chugging energy drinks or crying. Michelle's cousin James (Dylan Llewellyn) is the sidekick of their group -- and an Englishman to boot, which finds him attending their all-girls Catholic school for fear of what might happen to him if he were lumped in with other boys.
Is it any good?
The jokes come fast and furious in this series, delivered by a crew of actors with the chemistry and comedic chops to pull them off; that so many of the characters are female is a wonderful bonus. Derry Girls explores teenage life from a lowbrow, imperfect, fully-realized-female point of view; which is a perspective that's unfortunately not seen very often in the comedy milieu. These girls are by various turns wisecracking bullies, sensitive cream-puffs, pretentious blowhards and flighty eccentrics, but they're all treated with an underlying tenderness no matter how outrageous their antics may get (burning up a neighbor's apartment thanks to a clumsily-handled tray full of flaming shot glasses and faking a religious apparition to get out of taking a test come to mind). There's an impressive amount of comic lunacy packed into each 30-minute episode, making the series an ideal choice for a weekend binge-watch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the role "The Troubles" play in Derry Girls. Do you think the show accurately portrays what it would be like to grow up in an environment of ongoing terrorism and oppression? Do the titular girls seem overly concerned by the goings-on between the British and Northern Irish? How does it affect the way they get along with others?
How many other television comedies can you think of that focus exclusively on the lives of teenage girls? How do the way those shows depict the female experience in comparison to Derry Girls?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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