York University student writes thesis – on hit TV show Derry Girls


A BRAINY University of York student is hoping to have the luck of the Irish when she gets her diploma results after writing an 8,000-word dissertation – on the hit TV show Derry Girls.

A student of English and related literature, Réiltín Doherty, 21, looked back to the first two series of the Channel 4 sitcom to analyze the show’s themes.

She watched some episodes up to 10 times as she explored the contrast between the misfortunes of being a teenager against the backdrop of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Réiltín was finally able to relax and watch the emotional finale as a fan last week after submitting his thesis on May 19.

And she hopes her own blockbuster will end when she gets her results next month for her project, ‘Being a Derry Girl is a State of Mind: Humor, Teens and the Troubles in Derry Girls’.

Réiltín said, “I watched every episode twice and watched up to 10 times to get screenshots and make sure I didn’t miss anything.

“I was worried I’d end up hating the show, but I still love it.

“But it was really nice to be able to turn off my laptop and watch the last episode last week without analyzing it. I don’t think I’ll be in a rush to watch it again anytime soon.

Réiltín, who grew up in Derry, said the show accurately captures how people used humor to cope during The Troubles.

She says her dad had joked with her during her freshman year in college, but she laughed it off and didn’t think about it.

However, when it came time to submit a pitch for her sophomore dissertation, she realized there were a number of themes she could explore on the show.

She added: “My supervisor was really enthusiastic about it, he works a lot on Irish comedy and was pretty much the perfect person to guide me through his writing.

“He mentioned his partner was also from Northern Ireland, so he could relate to a lot of the show’s appeal and humor.”

Réiltín, whose favorite character on the show was Orla, said the comedy made viewers aware of the issues.

But he did it in a way that put the teenage lives at the center of the story, which made audiences relate to the characters.

York Press: Réiltín Doherty, 22, shows his thesis on Derry Girls at the University of York.  Main Image: SWNS

She added: “When I first moved to England the first thing people would mention was the problems or the fact that they had Irish family.

“Now the first thing they mention is Derry Girls and I love that because it’s something positive from the city to talk about.

“It changed people’s perception of Northern Ireland and Derry.

“A lot of media in Northern Ireland have been very dark and very vivid in showing the violence of The Troubles. This is not the case with the Derry Girls.

“It’s one of the few shows that shows the lives of everyday people and it also shows how funny The Troubles, however traumatic, can be.

“I used a lot of dark humor theory to explain this.

“I obviously didn’t grow up during the worst, but I still get and understand a lot of jokes.”

Like the main characters, Réiltín attended a school for girls run by nuns.

She reminded The Tab how once a hijacked van was abandoned outside her school at midnight and police had to make sure it wasn’t a bomb.

She said: ‘At 6am security was confirmed so we were back at school at 8am.

“It wasn’t even advertised in the morning announcements, we just had to keep going.

“I think Derry Girls captures that need to carry on with a normal life when all of these very abnormal things are going very well around you.

“A young reporter named Lyra McKee was shot dead during riots right after the Season 2 finale aired.

“Bill Clinton’s words of hoping for a peaceful Derry 20 years ago are truly sad when you consider that lives are still at risk all this time.”


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