These Shows (Sham)Rock
I love St. Patrick’s Day.
I have this joke that kills on, well, every day, but especially today.
Them: Are you Irish?
Me: Yes, a very special kind.
Them: Huh? Special how?
Me: The Black kind.
You: *Insert laughter here*
As you can imagine, it kills at a pub in Ireland as I was most definitely the first Black person they saw…that day (if that). But today is not about my Irish creative brilliance. Rather, we will celebrate and engorge other Irish talents (and some media you should just, for everyone’s sake, ignore).
Bad Sisters (Apple TV)
Do you like comedies? Do you like dramas? Do you like masterpieces by the brilliant Sharon Horgan?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, please immediately sort out 8 hours and 40 minutes to binge the series. But, if you are anything like me, you will need an additional hour and a half to truly accept what you just watched.
The show follows the lives of the five Garvey sisters. Yes, I said 5. I have one sister, and that is plenty, but like a good stereotypical Irish family, they have ⅓ of a camogie team ready to take the pitch.
Sadly, one of the sisters, Grace, married a god-awful wanker of a man, John Paul. And no, not my cousin John Paul—he’s lovely. A different, fictional John Paul. Don’t worry, it was hard for me to remember the difference at first too, but you’ll get there.
After the character, John Paul behaves utterly atrociously towards his wife and daughter, the sisters band together in order to save Grace––and let’s just say that getting to the end result is less than graceful but makes for a truly magical show.
There is also a Black Irish person, so I now know of three Black Irish people. Imagine diversity in Irish television, and the US still airs Blue Bloods, where 90% of the people of color are criminals…but that’s a different blog post.
Anyways, back to Bad Sisters. I can easily say that this was one of the best shows I watched in 2022, and it doesn’t receive the recognition it deserves. Stop what you are doing (after you finish reading this blog post) and immerse in Bad Sisters now!
I might have just convinced myself to rewatch it...
So, if you don’t already have Apple TV, this is the time to start your free trial and watch Sharon Horgan’s Bad Sisters (plus Ted Lasso, which is a great Apple TV series that just released the first episode of season three. It is based in Britain…but enough about those Brits, it’s about IRELAND).
Derry Girls (Netflix)
Okay, so I kind of lied…technically Derry Girls takes place in Northern Ireland, which is British and isn’t part of Ireland, which is really the Republic of Ireland, but semantics.
Are you feeling sad? Do you need to laugh? Do you want to make your teenage years feel better by watching teenagers make a mess of things? Do you want to make your adult years look better by watching adults mess things up?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, click on Derry Girls. These 30-year-old actors bravely step into the mindset of teenage characters living in Derry in the 1990s.
(For those who are unaware, the Troubles took place between 1968-1998. The two Islands were filled with violence and conflict between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland and Northern Ireland. But read more here.)
The show tackles the grief and joy during this turbulent time, but no matter the context of the episodes, you will be on the floor snorting/laughing. Some of the best sarcastic and dry one-liners are by Sister Michael, whom I would easily switch to be the headmaster at my former Lower, Middle, or Upper Schools. That’s right, she makes an all-girls Catholic school in the 90s almost look fun.
Did I just say that? I need to get my head checked. Clearly, this Irish coffee has gone to my head already.
But like all Irish tv shows, I do suggest subtitles for the first bit, as it is hard to understand what they are saying.
Normal People (Hulu)
Do you want to see the spectacular chemistry between Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones? Do you need a good cry? Do you need to restore hope in the world?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then turn on Normal People. WARNING: You will begin to sob into your pillowcase. Thankfully, your pillow is underneath the case, and you will have something to squeeze in those moments when you hate the characters’ actions and miscommunications. But when you fall deeply in love with the story between the protagonists, you’ll squish the feathers out of that pillow in hope that it all works out.
Unlike most young adult dramas, we get to see teenagers grow into adults. With this maturity, characters and audiences alike better understand the impact people can have in your life. Normal People represents the innate humanity in all of us.
I would like to take this time to shout out Paul Mescal especially, as he played Gaelic Football for my hometown of Kildare. My cousins Trina and Tommy say, and I quote, “Yah, Paul, ehh, he’s a good guy. I’m happy he’s had success.”
Do you feel special? Do you want to feel special? Do you want a superhero movie or show to be special? Do you like Derry Girls? Do you want to feel empowered despite not having superpowers?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then watch Extraordinary. It’s truly one of a kind.
Extraordinary takes place in a world where everyone has a superpower—well, except for protagonist Jen. This coming-of-age superhero hybrid comedy examines how superpowers only highlight the awkwardness of self-discovery.
In this universe, superheroes aren’t heroes…yet. Super (spoiler, but it's a common power) isn’t special…unless your Jen’s younger, practically perfect sister, Andy. But Andy’s truly spectacular nature is that she is a light-skinned biracial person. And as a fellow light-skinned black-and-white cookie, the representation is inspiring. Plus, while this show is based in England, Jen and Andy’s mom is Irish…and she is played by none other than the actor who plays Sister Michael in Derry Girls.
If I had a classic power, it would be telekinesis. But if I had an extraordinary power, it would be the ability to binge tv and movies at light speed. But I would still feel the emotions series and films promote––I just got some new pillows that need breaking in.
What would your extraordinary power be?
Luck of The Irish (Disney+)
Do you like Disney Channel Original Movies from the earlier 2000s? Are you Irish-American? Do you like slightly (very) stereotypical portrayals of Irish culture? Do you like the song “This land is your land, This land is my land”?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, reminisce about the good ole days of Disney media, and your Luck might just go Irish.
Well, I can’t promise, but the last time I watched Luck of the Irish, I ended up in Naples, Italy, mere days later and basked in good food and good views.
I truly love this movie, but it is way down here at the bottom of the list because of how it leans into stereotypes of Irish culture. The film features leprechauns, pots of gold, lucky coins, that Irish people are liars, many redheads, that Irish people are short…and so on. But the film taught this Irish-American, with the emphasis (unfortunately) on American, about Irish step dancing, Gaelic Football, Hurling, and Gaelic handball and rounders. And made me feel seen as a little Irish child.
Wild Mountain Thyme (Don’t bother)
Do you want to be REALLY pissed about Irish representation? Do you want to see Emily Blunt make a fool of herself? Do you want to punch James Doran in the face?
Wait, James Doran is from Northern Ireland and not the other types of British? Never mind—you can’t punch him. Do you want to just be insulted by a very white and too-American cast portraying an Irish love story?
What’s wrong with you?! Why would you want to do that to yourself? I am warning you, DON’T.
I have suffered enough for all of us.
Do you want to know where I watched this? At my Irish home in Kildare, my cousin Margaret zip-tied me to the couch, duct-taped my mouth, and super-glued my eyelids open so I couldn’t miss a thing…that is metaphorically, I mean.
In actuality, my dear cousin gave me a Heineken and giggled, “Do you want to watch the worst Irish movie known to man?”
But what I heard is, “Do you want to watch this Irish movie?” There are no subtitles in real life, and half the time, I just nod and shake my head when my cousins––British and Irish alike––talk to me. And this time, it really bit me in the ass.
In short, DO NOT WATCH Wild Mountain Thyme unless you are spending time shitting on the horror that is the movie with a great cousin. Oh yeah, and a beer or a six-pack of beer. Being Irish means being lucky, not magical.
Go watch some brilliant Irish media; it doesn’t have to be just on St. Patrick’s Day. These programs are available on the other 364 days of the year too, and a great time to fill the time in between St. Patrick’s Days.
And I almost forgot, Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Normal People is based on Salley Rooney’s book, if that’s your thing. Rooney has another book titled Conversations with Friends that has turned into a Hulu original as well..don’t bother watching.