As we travel the world via TV shows filmed in other English-speaking countries, the Emerald Isle, the land without snakes, seems so laid back and idyllic until you begin to watch Irish made programs. The pubs often have a no singing sign to keep the impromptu performances at bay and yet singing spontaneously breaks out anyway which I would suggest is a sign of a culture under pressure. Leadened skies, windy rain, vendettas, and centuries of conflict mark this land. The intense television shows seem more intense as can be seen in recent shows filmed in Ireland like Vikings, Acceptable Risk, Jack Taylor and of course, Game of Thrones. And yet, when the Irish get going their shows are also filled with hilarity and silly humor, and this is also portrayed as well in shows like Father Ted and Mrs. Brown’s Boys. And some contain both, like Ballykissangel. The shows mentioned above are all available on DVD or Hoopla at your Abilene Public Library.
Three less well-known shows; one crime drama and two comedy dramas. are available on Hoopla. Single-Handed is a crime-drama set in ‘the West of Ireland’ which was nominated as the best Drama series in the Irish Film and Television Awards of 2008, but lost to The Tudors. It is loosely based on the crime and corruption found in the Garda (police) of County Donegal. The premise of the story is that by-the-book Garda Sergeant Jack Driscoll has been working in Dublin and returns to the west coast of Ireland to take over his father’s Garda position upon his retirement from the force. The location is remote and he is the only officer in the area and must do the investigations on his own. Jack’s inquiries turn up crimes of passion, sexual abuse, blackmail, drug trafficking and lots of secrets, many of which he discovers his father must have either known about or even instigated.
The next two shows star Amy Huberman, an IFTA (Irish Film & Television Academy Award) award winning actress with multiple credits to her name. The first show is entitled Striking Out. It is similar to “Single-Handed” in that the character, Tara Rafferty, strikes out on her own by leaving the big law firm and poncy lawyer cheating fiancé to start her own law practice with a tiny misfit staff to avoid being controlled by others. The cases she takes on put her in David vs. Goliath situations and do not make her popular with prominent figures in Dublin social, legal or political establishments. She is abandoned by all social structures that have supported her in the past and must now search herself for the strength to move forward.
The second show is entitled Finding Joy. Huberman created the show and she also plays the main character. Joy Morris works as TV copy editor who copes with OCD tendencies but is thrust into taking over for a popular daredevil vlogger, Flora Hunter, who has had an “accident” with plastic surgery and must stay out of the public eye for a time. Joy, who has recently been dumped by a boyfriend of two years because she is too predictable, sees that replacing Flora will show her boyfriend that she is spontaneous and fun. So, Joy vlogs therapeutic wrestling, group therapy and abseiling and becomes even more popular with Flora’s audience. In the end, her boyfriend still does not see her as she would like, especially after she accidentally live films a hot yoga fight with his current girlfriend. Season 2 is likely due out this fall, but may have been pushed back on its release with the COVID-19 in Ireland.
All of these characters are Irish and individuals who had to make it on their own, for better or worse. The shows feature their determination and willingness to stand up for what they believe in but also show their frailties. If the characters do not resonate with you then maybe the scenery and shots of Dublin will. These three shows can be seen on Hoopla and all you need to enjoy them is your free Abilene Public Library card!
Article Contributed by Janet Bailey, Technical Services Manager, Main Library