Belfast Telegraph

Series finale fit for a president as Derry Girls signs off in style

Review: Derry Girls, Channel Four

Scenes from the last episode of Derry Girls, set during the visit of US President Bill Clinton
Scenes from the last episode of Derry Girls, set during the visit of US President Bill Clinton
Leona O'Neill

By Leona O'Neill

Derry Girls season two was the perfect comedy balm to soothe the Brillo-padding of the soul that Brexit has been in recent months.

It not only made us roar with laughter at the antics of hapless teenagers Saoirse-Monica Jackson (Erin), Nicola Coughlan (Clare), Jamie-Lee O'Donnell (Michelle), Louisa Harland (Orla) and Dylan Llewellyn (James), but brought us together on social media afterwards.

After the Across the Barricades episode in which the teens mixed with Protestants for the first time and hilariously explained their differences - Protestants keep toasters in the cupboard, Catholics 'buzz' off statues - we witnessed the Northern Irish community come together in an unprecedented communal laugh at ourselves.

In the following episodes, we saw the gang destroy Sister Michael's precious Child of Prague statue, have a Take That fans' nightmare after a polar bear went on the rampage in Belfast, believed 'Mammy' had the power to kill people with her mind and have our hearts broken and mended again in spectacular fashion at The Prom.

And the last episode, The President, perfectly reflected the excitement and promise of hope that the 1995 visit of US President Bill Clinton provided to Derry.

Well, everyone was excited about the visit except Sister Michael who quipped that "we stop killing each other for five minutes and people lose the run of themselves" before banning the teens from going to see the most historic of moments.

Derry Mammy Mary went into 'Level Seven' cleaning mode in case President Clinton "took the notion to call in" to the house that she said "looked like Beirut", while Denis from the shop tried to sell the gang dud flags with only 30 stars on them.

Meanwhile, the men of the house went undercover, using old radios to tap into CIA frequencies then heading into deepest, darkest Donegal in search of Bill, only to discover the Bill they heard spoken of over the airwaves was a farmer heading to Mass in a taxi.

Just like in the finale of the last series, writer Lisa McGee tugged at our heartstrings one last time by taking the beloved James away from us without warning.

His mother Cathy - returned from fancy England with a posh accent and eyebrows that "could have given Joan Crawford a run for her money" - whisks James away to help run her business in London. In a poignant speech he tells the girls he "just doesn't belong here". Despite her constant cruel and witty quips about James, Michelle tells him that he "is a Derry Girl now" and demands he stay.

James leaves his adopted streets behind and heads off in a taxi with his mum, only to return to the gang and proclaim loudly from Derry's historic walls "I am a Derry Girl!" - before someone tells him he is "a p****".

As the reunited gang walk up the street, the words of Bill Clinton ring out about Northern Ireland's young people deserving a "peaceful and prosperous future" and we must "believe that the future can be better than the past".

Derry Girls was a true reflection of our mad and unique sense of humour, one we could all relate to because that is how it was - even in our darkest of days here in Northern Ireland, we still found the space to laugh at ourselves and our absurdity.

After Bill Clinton's speech, the most important words spoken last night were "...and Derry Girls will be back for a third series" - leaving Derry, Northern Ireland and the rest of the world "all lurred".

US President Bill Clintonwith the SDLP’s John Hume in 1995
US President Bill Clintonwith the SDLP’s John Hume in 1995
Scenes from the last episode of Derry Girls, set during the visit of US President Bill Clinton
Scenes from the last episode of Derry Girls, set during the visit of US President Bill Clinton

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