‘Derry Girls Put Us On The Map’: Hometown Pride As Series Ends Approaching | derry
After four years of jokes, memes, cheers and debates over whether Protestants really keep toasters in the cupboards, the impending final season of Derry Girls is getting bittersweet approval in Derry.
The Channel 4 TV sitcom which became an unexpected global hit after it aired in 2018 has cast a warm haze over Northern Ireland’s second city which locals hope will linger beyond the third season, which starts next week .
The show’s ironic depiction of working-class teenage girls coming of age in the 1990s reshaped perceptions of a city previously associated with the turmoil of The Troubles. It wasn’t just outsiders who saw a different Derry – locals saw themselves differently. They hope that the afterglow will last.
“It’s the light it brings. It’s Derry in color, not black and white,” said Greta McTague, a theater professor at St Cecilia’s University who taught two of the show’s stars, Saoirse-Monica Jackson, who plays Erin, and Jamie -Lee O’Donnell, who plays Michelle.
A city previously known for Bloody Sunday, and often overshadowed by Belfast, was able to show a vibrant and joyful side, McTague said. “Derry Girls put us up there on the map. He had this massive impact. He will leave a lasting legacy.”
The sitcom found a global audience after Netflix acquired the rights. It was referenced on The Simpsons, which featured an ice cream parlor named Dairy Girls. This week some fans half-jokingly urged the Stormont executive to buy Channel 4, which is at risk of privatization, for its services to Northern Ireland.
The show’s gentle mockery of bigotry included a blackboard the characters used to list the differences between Catholics and Protestants, with the former reputed to love statues and store coal in the bath and the latter reputed to love flutes and keep toaster in the cupboards. The Ulster Museum in Belfast included the prop in an exhibit on cultural stereotypes.
Tourists visit Derry to walk the same streets as the characters, devour Derry Girls-themed afternoon teas and take selfies at a mural on the side of Badgers Bar on Orchard Street. “Netflix gave us a global platform. It has given us a new market and a new audience,” said Odhran Dunne, managing director of tourism agency Visit Derry. “The new series will open up another opportunity for venues and locations.”
Gleann Doherty, a tour guide who tours Derry Girls, said in 2018 that he originally expected the show to be a dark take on the Troubles. “I thought here we go, another one. Then I sat down and watched it and it was hilarious. It shows you that there was a sense of normalcy. It wasn’t a normal society we lived in, but it seemed normal to us.
Karl Porter, one of the artists who painted the mural, said the show captured the resilience and humor of locals. “When you laugh at something, it takes on a whole different context. Bad things have happened…but we’ve built these really strong communities. Porter lamented the end of Derry Girls but said it was going well. “They don’t hang around. We’ve all seen certain shows that go on and on and get repetitive.
The mural was changed this week so that Michelle, who originally held two fingers in the peace sign, has held three to signify the third set. Series writer and creator Lisa McGee, along with the cast and crew returned to Derry on Thursday evening for a red carpet premiere of the first two episodes of the new season, followed by a reception at the Guildhall.
Derry Girls had demystified her hometown to outsiders, McGee told The Guardian. “Something about comedy makes things accessible to people. It shows a side of the place that hasn’t been shown very much, for example the more ridiculous elements of everyday life. It may have changed the city a bit. It’s really amazing because it’s just a comedy. McGee wants new stories to emerge. “I hope this will be the legacy of Derry Girls, which other people will write here.”
Juliette Barber, a teacher at St Cecilia’s College, said seeing two former students find fame and success as actors on the show has galvanized her students. “It puts their aspirations within reach. It’s not something that happens to “other people” anymore, it happened to someone who wore his uniform, walked his streets and talked like him.