DISCLAIMER: This review of the final season of Derry Girls contains minimal spoilers. I’m talking very minor. Well, it also depends on your interpretation of what’s a spoiler. Anyway, stopping now before this spirals into a tangent.
It’s time to bid farewell to our Derry girls (and the wee English fella). Season 3 of Lisa McGee‘s hilariously heartwarming series finds Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), Orla (Louisa Harland), Michelle (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell), Clare (Nicola Coughlan) and James (Dylan Llewellyn) navigating life on the cusp of adulthood. At the same time, there’s talk of The Troubles coming to an end.
Despite the three-year gap between seasons, Season 3 picks up right where the show left off, never missing a beat. This season gives us everything from a Halloween-themed episode and a performance as the Spice Girls to a flashback episode with the adults and a trip to an amusement park gone wrong. And not to worry; we get plenty of delightful dance scenes. Season 3 maintains Derry Girls‘ signature vim and vigor, with the jokes landing and the episodic narratives keeping an even keel.
In addition, the season blesses us with a handful of excellent Irish guest stars and one surprising cameo. The guest performances seamlessly meld with the high-octane, high-energy work churned out by our leading players. While there are a few instances of overacting (mainly from the teens), it isn’t enough to detract from my enjoyment.
The adults kill it this season. Mary (Tara Lynne O’Neill), Sarah (Kathy Kiera Clarke), Gerry (Tommy Tiernan) and Joe (Ian McElhinney) have plenty to do, embarking on hysterical B-plot adventures. As always, Gerry and Joe’s playful rivalry elicits some chuckles, while Clarke is a comedic force as Sarah and O’Neill remains the glue that holds everyone together. The chemistry between the adults is easy and breezy, coming from a grounded, natural place.
I’d be remiss if I left out Siobhán McSweeney as Sister Michael. McSweeney continues to be the Queen of Deadpan, squeezing every drop out of each humorous moment. Her dryness is on another level.
It’s hard to pick a strong contender among the teens as they all bring something different to the table. Everyone gets their moment to shine, including a few poignant scenes where they spread their dramatic wings. However, Jackson steps to the plate as the unspoken leader of our crew, delivering a layered, well-crafted, and equal parts humorous and heartfelt performance. The series finale allows Jackson to tie the show in a neat bow.
Derry Girls Season 3 successfully weaves together the political turmoil of the time and the struggles of adolescence beautifully. Even though our Derry girls’ world is precarious and fraught with danger, there’s an air of hopefulness that serves as the season’s heartbeat. “Hope” is the name of the game, more so in Season 3 than its predecessors. You can feel it in every scene. It’s revitalizing. I walked away from Season 3 feeling better than when I started watching it.
Our gang isn’t naive regarding what lies ahead — instead, they choose to remain hopeful about their futures. It’s a timely message that resonates no matter when and where you live.
Overall, McGee sends the girls (and the wee English fella) out on a high note. Season 3 of Derry Girls is just as hilarious as the first two seasons. It delivers clever, snappy writing that continues to explore these nuanced and endearing characters. You’ll fall in love with Erin, Michelle, Clare, James and Orla all over again.
This season also tugs at the heartstrings, with everyone bringing their A-game on the acting front. It’s larger than life, a boisterous force that pulls you into its gravitational field and refuses to let go. You won’t want to say goodbye. Thankfully, you can always rewatch Derry Girls to your heart’s content.
Derry Girls Seasons 1-3 are now streaming on Netflix.
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