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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, October 2, 2023

'Derry Girls': the perfect ending for a perfect show

The title card for "Derry Girls" (2018–22) is pictured.

After 19 episodes total, “Derry Girls” (2018–22) has finally come to a close with the third and final season of the show, which landed on Netflix on Oct. 7. The comedy, set in the Irish town of Londonderry, or Derry depending on who you ask, during the Troubles, the Northern Ireland conflict that spanned a majority of the second half of the 1900s follows a group of five friends as they navigate high school, adolescence and the political unrest of their country. 

Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), the leader of the group, her snarky best friend Michelle (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell), her quirky cousin Orla (Louisa Harland), the constantly-stressed Clare (Nicola Coughlan) and the odd-Brit-out James (Dylan Llewellyn) spend the final season, their senior year, making plans for their futures and getting into much trouble along the way. The characters have been the heart of the story for the past three seasons and continue their rambunctious antics for the last time. 

The show functions similar to that of a sitcom, with the group tackling a new adventure in each episode — from breaking into the school a day early to find out their GCSE results to securing concert tickets by claiming James got mugged. Each story has heart, humor, and features incredible chemistry between all of the characters. Since the show is short, with every episode except the series finale clocking in at under 30 minutes, each one is packed with the group’s mischievous behavior, with a side of political commentary on the Northern Ireland conflict. 

“Derry Girls” thrives because writer Lisa McGee’s dialogue is perfection. The dialogue is fast-paced, filled with witty comebacks and snarky remarks, as well as a plethora of curse words from the brassy Michelle. Because the writing is so well done, the entire show feels beautifully natural and lively. No line seems out of place and every character has their own distinct way of speaking that in just reading some of the most iconic quotes from the series, it is likely you will know who said the line. 

Watching the girls, plus James, grow up over the course of the show has been a delight. The characters have grown from chaotic, mostly selfish teenagers to mature adults working to find their place in the world. All of the character’s arcs are wrapped up in the series finale, “The Agreement,” which is perhaps the best episode of the series. 

“The Agreement” starts with a one-year time jump after the death of Clare’s father. Clare has moved out of town — her mother could not bear to be in Derry without her father — the rest of the group remains. Set around Erin’s birthday party and the Good Friday Agreement, which Northern Ireland would vote on, the episode is filled with drama. Erin and Michelle get into a fight about the Agreement and Michelle’s brother, who is in jail, which causes Michelle to not attend her birthday party. Instead she goes to a party hosted by their mutual enemy, Jenny Joyce (Leah O’Rourke). The head of the school, Sister Michael (Siobhàn McSweeney) is also dealing with her own struggle of having to leave Our Lady Immaculate. 

In a touching scene, our two heroines Michelle and Erin forgive each other and Clare saves Erin’s party by sabotaging Jenny’s, a big moment for Clare who is always the last one in the group to want to cause trouble. Sister Michael tells Father Peter (Art Campion) and that she fought for her job and infers that she will not be leaving the school stating, “I make a difference here. The girls know that. The parents know that. I’m not ready to leave.” After three seasons of watching Sister Michael bully her students and continually make sarcastic remarks about them and the school, it's heartwarming to see how much love she truly has for them. 

The show concludes with the main group, their parents, Sister Michael, and various other characters going to the polls to vote on the Good Friday Agreement. Wonderfully set to  “Dreams” (1992) by The Cranberries, watching all the characters unanimously vote yes on the agreement is a flawless, moving scene that is likely to bring a tear to your eye. One of the final shots of the show is the group walking outside after voting, arms wrapped around each other while Erin’s grandpa and younger sister gleefully bounce out behind them. The show then skips to the present day and features Chelsea Clinton receiving a letter from Erin and the group that she sent in season 2, wrapping up the story perfectly. 

It is no surprise that “Derry Girls” is beloved by critics and fans alike, boasting a 99% critic approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The show’s humor is intelligent, the characters are lovable and relatable — the entire experience is one of pure joy. Though it is sad the show only lasted three seasons, it was three magnificent seasons of comedy, friendship and love.