Derry Girls season 3 is out on Netflix, complete with a Liam Neeson cameo and all sorts of hijinks from the gang of Catholic girls (and James) in Northern Ireland. The show is still hilarious — it’s one of the best comedies you can watch on Netflix — but something in particular from the first episode provoked contemplation.
The Derry Girls go to the local video store, briefly considering renting Braveheart before leaving to pull off a dastardly scheme (you should watch the episode). But first, they run into Sister Michael, who teases them about their exam results before being called to the register to pick up “the new Martin Scorsese movie,” which had apparently been put on hold for her.
First of all — fantastic, no notes. Besides Scorsese being a famously Catholic filmmaker, his dark sense of humor is a perfect match for Sister Michael’s sensibilities. But which movie was it? This moment is what I got my journalism degree for.
The third season of Derry Girls is set in the spring of 1998. The two most recently released Scorsese movies at the time were Casino (1995) and Kundun (1997). Casino would be particularly funny for Sister Michael to rent. It’s raunchy, violent, and arguably Scorsese’s sexiest movie. Casino came out in the U.K. and Ireland in February 1996, while the Oscar-nominated historical epic Kundun came out in the U.K. in April 1998.
Since she’s at a video store and not at a theater, it’s possible she’s renting Casino and it’s just taken forever for it to come out locally on VHS. But I think the smart money’s on Kundun — it had just come out, and even if it wasn’t quite available on VHS at the time, we’ll allow for some storytelling flexibility from this fictional comedy series. After all, Sister Michael’s charmingly acerbic wit and fondness for colorful language would make her a great fit in just about any Scorsese movie — Mob variant, Catholic variant, or Other.
The show’s attention to detail with period accuracy is one of the many things that takes it from fun, breezy comedy to an actually great television show. It’s the little moments like these that make the world feel lived in (and make the show’s dramatic moments land in a more deeply felt way). Even the fact that the video store employee explicitly put it on hold for Sister Michael, rather than her calling in to reserve it herself, adds an extra layer of detail and insight into the show’s world and the characters that live in it.
No matter what, I hope Sister Michael had a great time. I await her thoughts on The Irishman in season 31.