Please be aware that this article contains spoilers for the final episode of Channel 4’s Derry Girls.
Channel 4’s hit comedy Derry Girls has captivated audiences with its quick-fire humour, incredible female leads and unabashed nostalgia for Nineties fashion (think scrunch-dried hair, Alice bands and berry lipsticks galore).
The series follows Erin (Saoirse Monica Jackson), her cousin Orla (Louisa Harland) and friends Clare (Nicola Coughlan), Michelle (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell), and Michelle’s tag-along English cousin, aka “The Wee English Fella”, James (Dylan Llewellyn).
The quintet live in Derry, Northern Ireland – which means that, like so many teens in the United Kingdom, they’re growing up against a backdrop of Murder She Wrote, The Cranberries, Doc Martens, bomber jackets, The X Files and Wayne’s World.
However, they’re also forced to watch their hometown make the nightly news most evenings, in a time of IRA bombings, armed police in armoured Land Rovers and British Army checkpoints.
The show’s warm, funny and honest look at the everyday lives of ordinary people in extraordinary times has proven a breath of fresh air on our TV schedules – but, as ever, all good things must come to an end. And, thanks to that (literally) explosive finale, it was an action-packed and rather poignant end, at that.
In the episode, the girls were accidentally placed in charge of The Habit, their school’s magazine – and published an anonymous confession from a schoolgirl about her sexuality.
The author turned out to Clare, who bravely came out to her friends and family in moving scenes. But her friend Erin did not take the news well and told her to “go back in” the closet.
However, while many took the scene to mean that Erin is homophobic, writer Lisa McGee has insisted that this is absolutely not the case.
Explaining the scene to the Radio Times, McGee said: “I don’t think in any way that Erin’s homophobic, I just think that she’s shocked.
“It challenges that view that Erin has about herself that she’s worldly and she’s liberal. This is another defining moment that we get to see for Erin, that actually she’s so naïve and shocked by most things.”
Of course, the emotional punches didn’t stop there: towards the end of the episode, Ma Mary, Da Gerry, Aunt Sarah, and Grandpa Joe switched on the news and learned that a fatal IRA bombing had destroyed the Quinn household, causing truces to be declared.
This immensely touching scene was intercut with the school talent contest, as an oblivious Erin, Orla, Clare, Michelle, and James danced without a care to Madonna’s Like a Prayer.
Addressing her decision to include the bombing, McGee said: “I thought if I’m going to do this show and show this side of things, I have to at some point show that there were times when it floored you.
“I thought, I’ll probably do that at the end because it wasn’t a joke either. I had a nod to that, there were lots of mundane bomb scares and things like Orange Order parades, where you had to change how you might go about your journey.
“There were lots of day-to-day things that were funny but occasionally there was something big like Omagh, that the whole nation went ‘this just has to change’ and I think, I wanted to mix that in with this ‘life goes on’ thing. It had to be at the end.”
Thankfully, the episode does not mark the end of the Derry Girls: a Channel 4 spokesperson recently confirmed that a second series had been commissioned – and, yes, McGee will once again take the help as writer.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” she said. “Derry Girls is such a special project for me and it means so much that the audience have taken to Erin and the gang so warmly. I can’t wait to start writing series two.”
In an official statement, Ian Katz, Director of Programmes at Channel 4, added: “Derry Girls is a blast of fresh air. It’s everything we want from Channel 4 comedy: young, warm, brimming with new talent and rooted in an underrepresented part of the country. And a hit to boot. I’m delighted that we’ve commissioned a second series and can’t wait to see what Lisa does next.”
And Fiona McDermott, Head of Comedy at Channel 4, said: “It’s a real thrill, and a testament to all involved, when a new comedy lands so well with such a broad audience. At the heart of Derry Girls are brilliant comedy characters that feel universal, mischievous and funny so it’s wonderful to be able to back it with a second outing so quickly and confidently.”
Roll on the next series already…
Images: Channel 4