When Derry Girls hit TV screens in January 2018, it instantly stole the hearts of the nation. It took something as serious as The Troubles, and turned it on its head, showing ordinary life in the 1990s, from the point of view of Catholic teenagers in Derry. We watch as Erin, Orla, Clare, Michelle, and James navigate school amidst bomb threats and the political unrest of the time, in often hilarious ways. Here’s a list of 8 life lessons from Derry Girls, with a few that the girls (and James) could have done with learning themselves (although the show really would not be as funny then).
Life Lessons from Derry Girls #1
Don’t Let Your Friends Dance Alone
You won’t always understand your friends’ passions, but you should always support them. When Orla takes up step aerobics, Erin and the gang are slightly mortified, and only moreso when she performs her routine in front of the whole school to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”. But instead of laughing at her with the rest of the school, they join her onstage, proving it is always better to dance with your friends than not.
Life Lessons from Derry Girls #2
People Say I Love You in Different Ways
In the Season 2 finale, with the arrival of James’ flakey mother Cathy, James is faced with the difficult choice of staying in Derry, or going back to the UK. As anyone who has watched the show will know, James has a tough time fitting in because he’s English and because he’s a boy, and so the choice seems easy. But when he decides to go, Michelle, always quick to put him down, begs for him to stay, in her own sort of way. It takes this declaration of cousinly love for James to decide he’s a Derry Girl after all.
Life Lessons from Derry Girls #3
The Truth Always Comes Out in the End
Whether it’s pretending to have been tied up by gunmen, or telling the local priest you saw the Virgin Mary weeping, when in fact it was a dog peeing on the statue, the Derry girls get themselves into countless situations by telling a few fibs. Although in life we should learn that the truth always comes out, it’s so much funnier in the TV show when the girls, and their parents, try to bend the truth or outright lie.
Life Lessons from Derry Girls #4
Don’t make assumptions
This one is proven in a few episodes. In Season 1, Episode 2, when Jenny tells them about her trust fund, the girls instantly assume they must have one as well, only to be disappointed when this isn’t the case. Similarly in the opening to Season 2, when the girls go on a trip to mingle with Protestant boys, a few assumptions lead to common misconceptions about the differences between Protestants and Catholics, that leads Clare to believe one of the Protestant boys is even trying to kill her. Still, it leads to one of the funniest moments in the series.
Life Lessons from Derry Girls #5
Don’t Rat On Your Friends
As Clare discovers, it’s not cool to tell on your friends. In a failed attempt to bully first year students from sitting at the back of the bus, Michelle and the gang have to explain themselves to Sister Michael. Although Clare initially states they must stick together, as soon as she’s in front of the Sister, she loses her cool and places all the blame (somewhat rightfully) on Michelle. As Sister Michael then says, “I think we all just lost a bit of respect for you now Clare.”
Life Lessons from Derry Girls #6
Be There For Your Friends
Erin is ecstatic when her longtime crush agrees to go to the prom with her, only for him to stand her up without calling. As she waits at home, heartbroken, Mary calls James and, like the good friend he is, he blows off a convention he was going to in favour of taking Erin to the dance. Similarly in Season 1, when Erin finds out that Clare is a lesbian, though she initially struggles with the news, she eventually comes around to support her friend.
Life Lessons from Derry Girls #7
Family Will Always Be There For You, Even When They Drive You Mad
This is a lesson learnt over and over again in Derry Girls. Whether it’s James and Michelle, Orla and Erin, or Mary and Sarah, time and time again we see family come through when it is needed. When boring Uncle Colm is held at gunpoint, despite his monotonous stories, the family take him in. Even between pairs that are normally at each other’s throats, like Gerry and his father-in-law Joe, amid another bomb scare, Joe takes Gerry’s shoulder in a sign of solidarity. He may (not so) privately try to dig up dirt on Gerry, but when it matters most, he’s there for him.
Life Lessons from Derry Girls #8
Stick To Your Principles (Because 25 Miles Is A Long Way To Walk)
Poor Clare is full of principles, but she often struggles to act accordingly. In the very first episode, she’s participating in a 24 hour fast, with the hopes to raise money for a boy in Africa Kamal, who has to walk 25 miles everyday for fresh water. However before 24 hours has passed, (or even 10 hours), she finds herself unable to keep it up, despite her protests. Clare proves that it is not always easy to stick to your principles, but you should always try.
You can now watch Derry Girls on Netflix, or on All 4.