Why Michelle from Derry Girls is already a fully-formed work of comic genius 8 months ago

Why Michelle from Derry Girls is already a fully-formed work of comic genius

It would be fair to say that Ireland is having a love affair with Lisa McGee's television series, Derry Girls.

One of the bluntest comedies since The Thick Of It, the show plays like a grittier version of The Inbetweeners. Despite all the great misadventures that Simon and co. embarked upon, whether it was Australia or a camping trip, Derry Girls opts for a far more realistic approach to badly behaved teens.

Every possible scheme fails to get past the drawing board or a group of thoroughly pissed off grown-ups. They can't execute a plan to go to Paris. They can't get jobs. Hell, they can't even clean a window without accidentally using mayonnaise.

It's a mess, but a damn good one, and after only two episodes, it already feels as if we are watching something genuinely special.

Much of this boils down to a few specific characters. There is the wonderfully brutal Sister Michael, who won't go to Paris since she "despises" the French, or Aunt Sarah, whose sunbed sessions are one of the most unlikely casualties of the Troubles.

Then, we have someone like Uncle Colm - a man so dull he can even turn a story about almost being executed by the IRA into a snooze-fest.

However, the one person who has captivated viewers the most is unquestionably Michelle, the foul-mouthed and reckless leader of a reluctant gang of friends, played by first-timer, Jamie Lee O'Donnell.

Almost every word from her mouth is a curse, a vicious dismissal of her Wee English cousin's need to pee, or an instantly quotable response.

"Sláinte motherfuckers", need we say any more?

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From the moment she enters the show, obsessed by having recently seen Pulp Fiction, starring "the disco dancer from Look Who's Talking", Michelle is already mesmerising. She is arrogant, brash, but relatably human enough to look pathetic when facing off with a first year "fetus" whose sister is the supposedly terrifying Big Mandy.

It is rare that a stand-out character emerges so quickly in a TV show, so for this achievement it only makes sense to go through a few of her already classic-lines.

"Ach, some of them are rides. I'm willin' to admit it, even if nobody else will, because I'm a beacon of truth."

Spoken while a group of British soldiers inspect the school bus at a checkpoint, this is why George Benson once sang "I believe the children are our future." While all the grown-ups fight over ideologies or the concept of a United Ireland, Michelle looks beyond politics to find the thing which helps us all keep keeping on.

And that is 'The Ride'.

"Do you think if I told him I'd an incendiary device down my knickers, he'd have a look?"

Purely to screw with her terrified English cousin, James, she comes out with this filthy re-imagining of the old Stiff Little Fingers classic track, 'Suspect Device', with the line "Inflammable material, planted in my head".

The line is simply a brilliant way of boiling down, into one crude joke how a zone of conflict is still somebody's home. There comes a point after years upon years of conflict, checkpoints and bomb threats when it all becomes normal, and at that point, the best way of reacting is with the filthiest piece of war-innuendo possible.

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On the Mr. Mullen Affair: "Student - teacher... Two 4th years cable-tied him to the monkey bar and started dry ridin' him. He was really good lookin', so ye've nothing to worry about."

The way in which she delivers the Mr. Mullen affair to a terrified James is pure brilliance. Playing on our expectations, she starts by saying two very sobering words. By the third word, it has descended into a ridiculous farce, topped off by but another sly dig at poor James.

"Bring Bobby Sands"

A short, but brilliantly tasteless dig at her friend Clare who is honourably fasting for Kemal, an African boy who is "knackered" and starving in a situation best described as "lousy". There is no better way of belittling a charitable fundraiser, than by comparing a person to the former IRA hunger striker, Bobby Sands.

A close contender is when she later spits, "For Christ's sake Clare, you basically just skipped lunch."

"Brenda Beckett from 12A"

Look, we all know a person who tries to sound smart by referring to a great writer by using only their surname. This is how you should respond the next time someone says only Beckett, without the Samuel.

"I just assumed they were all dead cat posters."

Mumbled as the gang look at the advertisment board in the local chipper, this is the greatest way of saying "The glass is half-empty."

"Come on Clare, I know how much you've dreamed of the Arc de Whatever-the-Fuck-it's-Called. James, I know how much you want to practice the shit out of the past participle."

This is the definition of inspirational speeches. Coming across initially as a great call-to-arms, when really she has admitted not knowing a thing about her friends, it is rousing and rubbish simultaneously. But it gets through to the gang. That is the sign of a born leader.

Hell, it got one person into the White House.

Let's say it here now, Michelle 2020.