Hidden Gem: The Young Offenders

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BBC Three’s The Young Offenders is an Irish coming-of-age sitcom that sees two hilarious and boyish characters Jock and Conor take great pleasure in stealing bikes and causing a ruckus around Cork. Yet, not confined to criminality, the boys often monologue about aspects of life, putting a sweet taste back into your mouth after all of the outrageous behaviours.

This series sees Alex Murphy as Conor McSweeney and Chris Walley as Jack O’Keefe reigning terror against their main enemies: Garda ‘Healy’ and school principle Barry (whose daughters are dating the lovable duo). The series heavily explores themes of familial love, exploring the complexities of these relationships, which give a pop-psychology type of inclination of why the protagonists behave in certain ways. Interestingly, the series followed the success of the film in 2016, which obtained an Irish Film & Television award.

The plot-line and one-liners of this series are what propels it into hilarity when mixed with adolescent uncertainty. The Young Offenders uses classic tropes such as meeting the parents, smoking and the anxiety of a first kiss: yet makes them fresh and hilarious through exploiting characters’ weaknesses.

Right now is the perfect time to watch the first two series, as the second will be available to watch on BBC Three sometime this year as both thrived under critical acclaim despite its infancy. Much like the wildly successful Derry Girls (also set in Ireland), both series are equal in its sweetness and hilarity with journalists advocating for a crossover in the future.

Of course, Alex Murphy and Chris Walley steal the show as diamond-in-the-rough types, yet Hilary Rose as Conor’s mother Mairéad is what holds the less conventional family unit together. Despite her abrasiveness, her fierce loyalty and protectiveness shine through as the matriarch as you realise how much her boys run her ragged. Somehow, the balance always restores itself, as Conor makes gestures such as getting a tattoo that reads ‘I love me mam’ rather than ‘LDC’ Soundsystem.

Despite The Young Offenders still being in its infancy, there is a whole lot to unpack with the series. Escaped convicts, difficult home lives and school to name a few. Yet, the characters remain insistent on pushing forwards despite a plethora of discrepancies which makes them admirable in their own right.

All episodes of The Young Offenders are available to watch on BBC iPlayer, and the film is available on Netflix. 

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