A different take on a classic sitcom premise | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 14, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 14, 2019


A different take on a classic sitcom premise

Netflix in Bangladesh really opens up a whole new expanse of shows to the general populace. Shows that would never make it to mainstream TV channels here are now available to those who want something different. And Derry Girls is one show that really hits that description.

Premiering in January 2018, the sitcom follows a group of five teenagers as they stumble through life in Londonderry, more commonly termed Derry, in Northern Ireland during the late 20th century. However, this show is as far from your usual American high school drama as possible. Primarily, their school plays a much smaller role in the show than you would expect. Next we have the fact that 20th century Northern Ireland was right in the middle of The Troubles, i.e. an ethno-nationalist conflict between unionists and nationalists over the constitutional rights of the nation. The conflict is used perfectly as a comedic tool, and it is fascinating to watch teenagers navigate such a glossed over time in recent history from a third party perspective.

The family dynamics play a major role in this series, but again, in unexpected ways. Of the five teenagers the show most closely follows Erin and her family, which consists of her parents, who are perhaps the only sane characters in the series, and her maternal grandfather, who still inexplicably treats her father like his daughter's annoying new boyfriend even after decades of marriage. Their family also includes Erin's limelight-seeking aunt and her air-headed cousin, Orla, all of whom live in the same house. The interactions between the malicious grandfather and the innocent dad alone had me doubling up in laughter within the first few minutes.

Aside from Erin and Orla, the three other central characters are their friends Clare, Michelle, and Michelle's English cousin, James.

I love how although Clare is definitely the stereotypical paranoid, overweight, smarter friend, the writers didn't give her the heart of gold which usually makes these characters one dimensional. Clare's mean streak where she ceaselessly rats out her friends in stress situations makes you want to face-palm yourself while you laugh out loud.  

Michelle being Erin's foolhardy friend while James is her antithesis was another interesting duo added to the story. James' nationality makes him stand out like a sore thumb and the show uses his innate fear of the Irish expertly, landing him in an otherwise all girls' school, which leads to all the hilarity you would expect from such a circumstance.

While the show has amazingly fleshed out multifaceted characters, the mode of comedy is what really got me because unlike most shows, the laughs are highly situational and rarely at the expense of any one character.  The writers most definitely don't hold back when it comes to letting situations get out of hand. If you think you would be interested in a room with a dead ninety year old teacher, a blonde escaping with one leg out the window, and an English kid peeing in a potted plant while others devour sandwiches, take pictures or steal from said dead teacher, give this show a go. You won't regret it.


Rabita Saleh is a perfectionist/workaholic. Email feedback to this generally boring person at rabitasaleh13@gmail.com

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