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When Derry Girls’ lens gets greener than normal, the comedy still wins through

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What a triumph Derry Girls has been. The sitcom signed off this week with an emotional one-hour special set against the backdrop of the Good Friday Agreement referendum, and won plaudits from viewers and critics alike.

Its phenomenal global success is all the more remarkable because Northern Irish politics is usually a complete turn-off to outsiders — and not all those turned off are outside. Dramas, let alone comedies, have found locals to be a very tough audience, even if they manage to get one.

Yet on social media, many around the world said the series helped them understand the complexities of our recent history for the first time, which is a remarkable tribute to the show’s writer Lisa McGee and the cast. Such responses show the almost alchemic power of stories and, equally, memory.

Of course, Derry Girls was told more or less exclusively through a nationalist lens. How could it not be? This is the story of five school friends and their extended families and acquaintances. The fact that Protestants/unionists barely get a look in is an intrinsic part of the underpinnings of the sitcom.

The reality of Derry Girls speaks of the reality of Northern Ireland — sectarian division and non-interaction with ‘the other’. The only time there is any interaction is part of some officially sanctioned do-gooding events, which don’t bring anyone together and, worse, add a few more myths to the pile — remember, only Protestants hate ABBA.

But we would do well to remember that a story is not the story of our times. Indeed, a rare strained note in the Derry Girls special........

© Belfast Telegraph

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