Derry Girls (and the Finale) was brilliant.
What makes it good is that the jokes that occasionally misfire “three Catholics in the RUC” are compensated by the Politics that always works.
A harmless wee comedy? No.
It is Subversion.
I have never believed in Shared History. I still dont believe in a Shared Future.
But one sided comedy is clearly better than shared comedy…the Blame Game and Give My Head Peace.
You may think that Derry Girls is YOUR story. It is …apart from the Derry bit and the Girls bit…MY story.
It is not OUR story.
If half the people in your life are called Geraldine, Eamonn, Deirdre, Orla, Fionnuala….then it could be your story.
But if half the people in your life are called Trevor, Jeffrey,Victoria, Keith, Douglas, Arlene, Iris, Violet……well thats not my story.
Yes it was specific to Derry and specific to teen girls. But I guess Clonard Girls, Twinbrook Girls, Newry Girls, Strabane Girls would not be a lot different.
Some might say I am missing the whole Feminism thing…but again its a very precise form…as taught by Sr Michael who believes GOD is a woman.
And those four girls and the wee English fella are shaped by each other, loving families and an educator who cared.
Good luck with Integrated Education now.
You might have been outraged in an earlier season when Sr Michael told the Chernobyl teens not to worry about the whole Civil War thing that the only thing they needed to know is that “we are the goodies”.
You might have long suspected that this is the kinda thing themmuns were taught at Catholic schools and the reason we had all the Troubles.
Or you might have thought it was an outrageous joke.
But if you just smiled knowingly then it might be your story.
But if you think Derry Girls was a shared experience, then I will lead you in singing “The Town I Loved So Well.”
And the Finale.
There was music there in the Derry air…
Orla dancing with those “wee steps and stairs” was a foretelling that each Derry Girl generation is an update of the previous one. A conveyor belt.
But Orla ended her wee dance by confronting the British soldier and telling him she was going thru the gate. And she did pass thru the gate.
Wee innocent Orla.
Of course it was emotional. The plot hole seemed to be Michelle’s murderer brother of whom we heard nothing before. But there is no hiding. Whoever he murdered was an innocent man. There was no ambiguity that he killed a British soldier or RUC man. And part of the Good Friday Agreement Referendum was about releasing the paramilitaries.
But Derry Girls is not just about four girls and a wee English fella.
It is a generational thing.
In 1972 (Bloody Sunday), Joe, Colm, Eamonn (hooray for the pioneer pin) and Jim across the road were already adult men.
Gerry was still a child in Navan.
They voted in 1998.
Mary, Deirdre, Sarah and Geraldine were children in 1972.
They voted in 1998.
The Derry Girls and the wee English fella were still to be born.
They voted in 1998.
Áine the toddler in 1998 was at the polling station, hand in hand with Joe, her granda.
They all agonised in the run-up to the Referendum but the expressions on the faces of the older folks an were an indication of how they voted.
We saw how the first time voters voted…….YES
Does a smiley emoji count? Or is it a spoiled vote?
And I am now telling myself that I will eat my next ballot paper. If it is good enough for Tommy Duddy…that requires some planning (a blank sheet of paper folded multiple times and taken into the polling station)….but only if SDLP has not folded multiple times.
See I was 19 in 1972. My (not yet met) wife was 13. My mother was 59. My father was 54.
And three of us voted in 1998. Except for my father who like Geraldines hubby did not live to see it.
And the police inspector….Liam Neesons wordless cameo.
Did he vote for change?
Or was he too troubled, understandably by the thought of dead friends and paramilitaries released. For the Referendum was not really a shared experience.
Optimism on one side…..and Fear and/or Resignation the other side.
The biggest flaw in the Finale was that an English audience or American audience might think our two tribes voted equally for the promises of the Good Friday Agreement. Best estimates suggest 95% of Catholics and 55% of Protestants voted YES.
We were too optimistic.
We did get 24 years of acceptable peace.
But Seamas Mallon said it was Sunningdale for Slow Learners. He was arrogant. He did not anticipate it would fall apart and that another generation would have to sort it out again ……..Sunningdale AND Good Friday Agreement for Even Slower Learners.
David Cameron did the right thing….made things a little better.
Do you trust Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, Michael Gove, Jacob Rees Mogg?
We taped Derry Girls last night so we could fast forward thru the commercials.
As it ended, I switched over to BBC and saw Stephen Nolan and Jamie Bryson.
Jamie Bryson was 8 in 1998.
Stephen Nolan was 24.
Of course I only watched Nolan for ten seconds. But long enough to hear Mr Bryson say “principle of consent”.
Makes ya think.