When it comes to teen shows, there are so freaking many on TV nowadays. There are a number of now-classics coming from networks like the CW, and leading to huge hits like Gossip Girl or The Vampire Diaries, or edgier series such as Netflix’s Sex Education and HBO’s hit, Euphoria. But there’s one underrated show that I need to talk about, and that’s Derry Girls.
Available to stream on Netflix, it’s truly one of the best dramedy TV shows to binge on the platform, and while there are so many teen dramas to watch there, from the popular Never Have I Ever to the lovely Heartstopper, I genuinely believe with all my heart that Derry Girls is a teen dramedy/sitcom that everyone needs to see, whether you're a teenager looking for a show about your age group, or someone who just wants good television. Here are five reasons I think Derry Girls is one of the best recent teen shows.
Every Character Is Given Their Chance To Shine
Something I truly adore about Derry Girls is that it doesn’t necessarily feel like any one character is the lead. It’s really the story of a group of girls growing up in the 1990s in Ireland, trying to not only survive the political and social change of their country, but their time as teenagers.
Hear me out when I say that this show really does give every single character a chance to shine, and in more ways than one. While I can let certain teen shows, like Never Have I Ever, off the hook for focusing on a main protagonist, there are several other teen shows that feature large ensemble groups of actors, and yet, we really only ever get stories from a few of them, not from every character.
For example, Euphoria during its first season did a good job of having every episode focus on a different character, but in its second season, it felt like that individuality was sort of forgotten about in place of telling Rue’s story and really just Rue’s story – with the whole Cassie/Nate/Maddie thing on the side.
Derry Girls doesn’t stray from its individual stories for a second. While the majority of the show is all about the girl’s interactions in school and them trying to survive the most ridiculous of situations, it really gives every single character the chance to tell their own story in their own way. Something else that I really love about Derry Girls is that even the adults are stars in this.
I mean that in the best way. Often in teen shows, adults are basically forgotten about. I mean, think of Glee. While I love the song covers, the adults are mostly just a bunch of dimwits or the antagonists for the Glee club, with no one really being expanded on seriously, besides maybe Rachel’s mom or Jesse St. James. But in Derry Girls, every parent has their own story and it feels like they could also carry the show. Amazing.
It Has Bold Messages About Growing Up
Something that I love about coming of age movies and TV shows is that they’re not afraid to dive into tough issues that we sometimes don’t want to talk about, and Derry Girls is one of those examples. It brings up bold messages about growing up, and how everything feels so important in the moment when we're teens but as you get older, so many of those things really don’t mean anything.
Another aspect of Derry Girls I also really like about is that it feels far more relatable than most teen shows out there. While I know we can all get wrapped up in the fantasy shows that feature teens like Teen Wolf or even become obsessed with the drama that happens in Euphoria, this show really just speaks to the average teenager.
They’re curious about the world, sex, how to grow up, how they want to fit in at school, or even how they’re going to get to see their favorite band in concert – you know, typical teenage stuff, something I can relate to.
It’s Still Light-Hearted Enough Where Anyone Could Watch It
I’m just going to say it now – Derry Girls is ridiculously, laugh out loud funny, and I stand by that.
Like I said before, I really do appreciate that this show isn’t as dark as other teen shows have gotten. While I do appreciate how certain shows, like Euphoria or Skins, address serious topics that teenagers do go through, I don’t need that to be in every single teen show I watch. And, in all honesty, the light-heartedness of Derry Girls makes me like it even more.
The heart of this series is the main friend group, the titular ‘Derry Girls’ who often find themselves in the most ridiculous situations that seem to happen out of nowhere, but it’s their witty banter and natural chemistry that drives this show. The ways in which they try and fail to stand out always end up being comical, and makes you laugh no matter what, escaping the typical ‘learn a life lesson’ trope that a lot of teen dramedies tend to fall into.
It Handles Nostalgia In The Best Way
I mentioned it earlier, but Derry Girls takes place during the '90s in Ireland during a period called ‘The Troubles,’ a time of political conflict within the country, and not only does the series handle this history very well, but it also handles the nostalgia of the '90s well, too.
Many shows that I’ve watched in the past feature a lot of nostalgia bait from decades past, where you’re drawn in based on the memories of your youth, but after watching it you realize it was mostly the nostalgia that brought you in and kept your attention. Spider-Man: No Way Home was good fan service, but used hard nostalgia-baiting by including Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe. The same with the new A Christmas Story sequel coming out in 2022.
But Derry Girls doesn’t do any nostalgia-baiting. Yes, it does take place in the '90s, but it’s not like the show is outwardly going out of its way to constantly reference stuff from the time. Instead, we see the diaries that people were obsessed with writing in, or a CD player in the corner – and, if you went to Catholic school, like I did, it’s a whole new level of nostalgia because yes, it was still like this, even in the 2010s. It’s such a gentle way to make you think of your past.
It also handles history very well by pairing it with the comedy. While the series is fictionalized, it often references real-life events that they tie into the episodes, creating a well-rounded series that not only makes statements about historical events, but features incredible stories that anyone can connect to.
It’s A Great Way To Learn About A Different Culture
This is sort of a bonus thing, but I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned about Irish culture from this show. I’ve never really dived deep into it before, but there’s so much slang in it that by the time you finish watching, you’ll be talking just like the girls.
Not only that, but you really get to learn about their traditions, holidays, and everything else all while this is taking place in the beautiful country. It’s outstanding to watch and learn at the same time.
Derry Girls may only have three seasons, but it’s one of the best shows you could watch right now if you’re looking for a great teen dramedy. Trust me, you won’t regret it. It’s heartwarming, relatable, and everything that you could possibly need. Sometimes, all we need is something simple out of our teen shows – and this is the solution.
Stream Derry Girls on Netflix. (opens in new tab)
Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!
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