Here’s a fun fact: I usually self-quarantine on St. Patrick’s Day regardless of whether or not the outside world is a plague-filled hellscape, because Paddy’s Day in NYC tends to bring out the worst humans of all time, which is sort of like a plague-filled hellscape. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t still like to be able to go outside and grab a pack of Guinness and maybe a corned beef sandwich, or at the very least some soda bread and spuds, but since I am (like many of you are) trying to do my bit to flatten the curve in the wake of coronavirus mayhem, it looks like that’s literally off the table.
Fortunately there’s never been a better time to get stuck into streaming, and there just so happen to be loads of rad Irish TV shows and movies that are worthy of your festive attention.
“And what makes you such a goddamn expert, Megan?” Well, my mom went through a weird phase of like, third generation Irish nationalism when I was growing up. This included taking a ten-day family vacation to Ireland when I was going into first grade; memorable moments include when my dad accidentally let me and my older sister drink hard cider at a pub, when my sister and I were left at our B&B while my parents went to have a pint and we ran off into the streets with a pack of local children, when we ate McDonald’s at the height of Mad Cow…are you sensing a pattern of great parenting here?
MEAN MUGGIN’, MEAN STREETS
Trips to Ireland aside, we were also exposed to a lot of Irish cinema as kids. And no, I’m not talking about like, Darby O’Gill and the Little People, although that movie did make me feel very afraid of banshees. I’m talking more like The Secret of Roan Inish, Into the West and War of the Buttons. (My parents also let me watch The Commitments when I was four, which taught me the word “fuck”. It’s all been uphill from there!) Basically what I’m saying is, there was a lot of Colm Meaney woven into the fabric of my youth, and that is what makes me such a goddamn expert, you guys.
Anyway, in this 2020 edition of St. Patrick’s Day Streaming I’m going to highlight a couple of things that are a little more “current”, aka nothing I just mentioned in the previous paragraph, nor The Snapper, Waking Ned Divine, etc. (Although those are also really great!)
So let’s kick things off RIGHT NOW…
This Way Up
Aisling Bea is an Irish national treasure, and I am OBSESSED with This Way Up on Hulu. Think Fleabag vibes, but also different. After spending some time in rehab after a nervous breakdown, Aine (Aisling’s character) gets picked up by her older sister, Shona, and taken back to London, which is where they both live. And from there, Aine tries to get back on her feet, and as you can imagine, there are stumbling blocks along the way. It’s funny, it’s emotional…it’s basically just a really great discussion about mental health, and I am HERE FOR IT.
We wrote about this one extensively in our annual Murder Mystery Guide, because it is SO SO SO GOOD! Svetlana says, “While some of the backstory requires a pretty substantial suspension of disbelief, the final reveal (and amazing and unexpected villain, even to those who read the books so saw it coming due to prior knowledge) is WELL worth the wait.” PREACH! If you’re the type of person who’s going to extra spiral out by watching something heavy right now, then maybe pass for the moment, but if you’re someone who DOES like dark vibes in dark times, 110% DO IT!
The Young Offenders
This movie is KIND OF THE GREATEST! Super funny, but also has some #FEELS. If you want to see two dumbass Irish teens steal bikes, cocaine, and (subsequently) your heart, then this is 100% something you should watch, effective immediately. (It’s also been made into a TV series, which is ALSO super good, but that one’s a little difficult to get your hands on unless you’re down to hack ye olde planet.)
Surely you’ve caught the Derry Girls bug by now, but just in case, YA GOTTA GET ON THIS TRAIN! Set in the early 90s, it’s technically a “Northern Irish” show, but Derry’s a border town, and the group of girls featured in the series consider themselves just “Irish”. (In other words, they’re the Catholics, and they’re in the middle of a sectarian conflict with English-favoring Protestant population.) Shout-out to creator Lisa McGee for taking such a heavy topic as The Troubles and bringing in lightheartedness and humor; there are still emotional undertones, but she does a great job of showing that for people growing up in Northern Ireland at the time, things were mostly business as usual. Basically, it’s a very funny show, and even if you don’t have much knowledge of Ireland’s troubled past, you’ll have no problem picking up on a lot of the LOLs they’re putting down in Derry Girls.
A Date for Mad Mary
I cannot say enough good things about this movie. The only thing is, you’re going to have to rent it since it’s not on Netflix yet. It’s about a fuck-up named Mary (Seána Kerslake) who has anger management problems. (I know what you’re thinking, but in actuality the story ends up being very sweet!) She’s fresh out of prison for beating up another girl, and now she has to find herself a date for her best friend’s wedding. (Except her best friend isn’t even really a best friend anymore, and she’s a bridezilla on top of that, and basically it’s all a bit of a mess.) On top of all of that, Mary realizes she’s not as straight as she previously believed once she meets Jess, the wedding planner. It’s chaotic to say the least, but it’s heartwarming dot com, and definitely a recommended watch.
Rebellion came out in 2016 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, aka when the Irish basically said “Fuck you, England, we ain’t your bitch no more,” in the most significant way since 1798. This fictional TV drama documents all of that, and I’m not gonna lie, it made me feel some FEELINGS, you guys. Like, got me hella riled up, despite the fact that my family had already settled in NYC by this time, so I have zero historical claim to any of these events. Anyway, if you like period pieces and want to feel mega-pissed at the British (v. on brand if you’re Northern Ireland right now), then this is the show for you to binge.
Can’t Cope Won’t Cope
Can’t Cope Won’t Cope stars Seána Kerslake (from A Date for Mad Mary, which we talked about earlier) as the fuck up of the century – while she’s gainfully employed, an inability to put down the bottle gets her into all sorts of trouble with work, her friends, the police…the list goes on. It’s an uncomfortable look at alcoholism in like, the best kind of way, you know what I mean? The good kind of feel bad. It’s also a great portrait of how Irish people tack the word “like” onto the end of every single sentence. (WHY DO THEY DO THAT???) There are only two seasons in the series, and the creator says she won’t be making any more, but the episodes that ARE available are v. worth watching. (Especially if you, like I, have run out of alcohol already and want to focus on the bad bits about drinking to keep you sane during quarantine.)
BONUS MENTION – The Try Channel
While not a TV show or movie, I feel like YouTube’s The Try Channel deserves a shout-out in the event you’re more interested in watching Irish people eat and drink weird things from all over the world! Solid banter, loads of content to peruse, GO FORTH!
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