Derry Girls season 3 review: How the teen comedy retained its magic
Lisa McGee’s hysterical sitcom about adolescent trials and tribulations in 1990s Northern Ireland returns for its final season.
“I’m so f**king sick of peace. It’s all anybody ever bangs on about.”
The five beloved Derry Girls - including honorary member and ‘wee English fella’ James - are back on Channel 4 for their third and final season, their teenage trials and tribulations set against the backdrop of The Troubles in the 1990s.
But as the permed Michelle says, the girls have more important matters to worry about than peace talks - namely their GCSE results, or which film to pick out next at the local video store. (Michelle’s vote is for Braveheart, which, judging from the cover, is clearly about a Scottish drag queen.)
Everything that made the past two seasons of Lisa McGee’s comedy series magic is back, from the specificity of life in the '90s and attending a convent school, to the ongoing feud between Erin’s Granda Joe and his long-suffering son-in-law, Gerry. The new addition of Granda Joe’s homicidal ginger cat Seamus - the apple of his eye and the bane of Gerry’s existence - does little to put out the flames.
The scene-stealing, eye-rolling Sister Michael is also back, on crutches (“You should see the other guy”) and merrily sowing seeds of doubt amongst her anxious pupils ahead of exam results day. The only thing that can bring her down is the earnest Father Peter, now sporting a ponytail.
But most of all, the show’s magic comes from its evocation of teenage life and friendships, our adolescent heroines (and hero) caught up in their sheer, overwhelming passion about everything, whether that’s a new crush or favourite song, or the absolute certain knowledge that failing your GCSEs will spell the end of life as you know it.
More like this
Our central quintet are all back: aspiring writer Erin, whose family life provides the show’s anchor; her cousin Orla, an eccentric (or “subnormal”, as Sister Michael puts it); the brash, permed Michelle (who hides her heart of gold); Clare, an anxious overachiever who came out as gay at the end of season 1; and Michelle’s cousin James, the much-beleaguered English fella and only male student at the Catholic girls’ school Our Lady Immaculate College.
Plot points for season 3 are being kept closely guarded, so there’s little else we can tease about the first two episodes. However, fans who’ve watched the new season’s various clips and trailers will know that a very memorable brush with the law is coming for our girls - in addition to the arrival of an indecently handsome plumber, who brings new excitement to Derry.
One thing we can say is that Clare (played by Nicola Coughlan) will feature less in this third season, after Coughlan publicly explained that there were conflicts with her shooting schedule for Bridgerton (in which she plays Penelope "Pen" Featherington).
With potentially fewer ensemble scenes, could this lead to more screen time for the long-rumoured romance between Erin and James?
Either way, we have every intention of savouring this final season - and with all the relish of Orla opening a fresh box of chocolate Pop-Tarts.
Derry Girls season 3 will premiere on Channel 4 at 9:15pm on Tuesday 12th April 2022.
Derry Girls is available to stream on All 4 (season 1 and 2) and Netflix (season 1). Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, or visit our TV Guide.