Derry Girls season 3 marked the end of the TV show’s run, and while the conclusion might have left some viewers unsatisfied with the status of Erin and James’ relationship, their undetermined ending was the best way to close the story. Derry Girls is set in Ireland during the Troubles and follows a group of teenagers trying to navigate life. The coming-of-age comedy hinted at Erin and James possibly liking one another in season 2 when James ditched his Doctor Who convention to take Erin to the prom after her date stood her up. Their feelings for each other were finally confirmed in Derry Girls season 3, episode 4, after James’ brush with death gave him the confidence to tell Erin he likes her.
In true Derry Girls fashion, Erin and James’ sweet moment was quickly interrupted. However, the Derry Girls scriptwriters subverted the cliché Romeo and Juliet trope by allowing the audience and characters to sympathize with Michelle after she discovers the pair together, rather than villainizing her. As a result, Erin tells James they should remain friends to preserve her friendship with Michelle, to which he responds, “I’m okay. I can wait.” Leaving the status of Erin and James’ relationship open was ultimately the right decision because it fit the show’s tone and didn’t distract from Derry Girls’ ending.
A Happy Ending Would’ve Ruined The Tone Of Derry Girls
Derry Girls is not a show where everyone gets their happy ending. While it is a comedy, the show remains grounded in reality, and much like life, the show is chaotic and messy, and few things go as planned. Never is this more apparent than in the heartbreaking Derry Girls season 3 death of Sean, Claire’s father. Claire finally had her first kiss with a girl, and just when everyone was happy, calamity struck. Derry Girls is a wonderful balance of all the beauty and heartbreak life has to offer, and making James and Erins’ relationship the exception would have ruined the show’s established style.
James and Erin’s Happy Ending Would’ve Ruined The Shows’ Conclusion
The show’s creator, Lisa McGee, said, “Derry Girls is a coming-of-age story following five ridiculous teenagers as they slowly…very slowly…start to become adults, while around them the place they call home starts to change too and Northern Ireland enters a new more hopeful phase– which was a small, magical window of time.” (via Web News Observer) The show’s concept is simple at its core, and that’s what contributes to its success. Therefore, instead of overcomplicating the plot, Derry Girls ended the show by focusing on its main group and the panic they felt surrounding adulthood. The Derry Girls finale special focuses on the ways that the gang is concerned they might not be prepared for adult life, and the anxieties that surround that. Erin and James’ relationship would’ve only pulled attention away from the clear panic they were all dealing with.
As with Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, McGee grounds her story in the real-life history of the Troubles, and part of that is the Good Friday Agreement. The Derry Girls gang is stressed about which way to vote in the finale, and watching their struggle to make a decision is the best way to convey the stress and cluelessness of being an adult. McGee chose to end the show and Erin and James’ relationship by leaving it open-ended because, as with life, no one knows what’s next. And not knowing is part of the excitement and fear of being a young adult. Erin and James’ relationship wasn’t the focus of the Derry Girls, and giving them their happy ending wouldn’t make sense given the show’s more realistic tone, so leaving their story unsettled was the right choice.