The Young Offenders Season 3 review: Heartfelt and hilarious
James R | On 19, Jul 2020
“Try not to do anything illegal for the next 24 hours.” “How are we supposed to know what’s illegal?” That’s the sound of BBC Three’s The Young Offenders back for a third outing, and it’s as hysterical and heartfelt as ever.
Season 3 catches up with Conor (Alex Murphy) and Jock (Chris Walley) as they’ve settled into their lives – but not exactly grown into them. Jock is now a father to baby Star and is raising her with Siobhan (Jennifer Barry), while Conor is still going steady with Linda (Demi Isaac Oviawe). Within the first 30 minutes, they’re already going both of their backs to carry out some low-level crime – with Star in tow.
Three men a baby? Nobody would ever suspect that, they reason, as they profess themselves the brains of their outfit – teaming up with Billy Murphy (Shane Casey), after he had a dream of how to make some money. The job? A “heist”, which, in the world of these Cork lads, means jacking some TVs from the back of a van.
“I was watching this thing the other day that said working-class people are locked in a cycle of crime from a young age and it’s impossible to escape,” says one, without a trace of irony, and that wonderful balance of dim-witted smarts and sincere affection runs throughout the show’s flawless writing. Peter Foott, who also created the film that inspired this small-screen incarnation, knows his characters inside out, and that rich detail and fully fledged world-building makes The Young Offenders the perfect cousin to Derry Girls – and just as deserving of the acclaim and attention Channel 4’s sitcom has earned.
Murphy and Walley remain as immersed in their roles as ever, convincingly bringing to life their impossibly winning bromance. Even as they remain thick as thieves, though, the show manages to build on their bond by bringing more depth to their relationships with everyone else around them. That includes Sergeant Healy (Dominic McHale) of the local Gardaí, who pursues them like The Terminator, and Billy Murphy, who also earns added screentime the more the season goes on. The lengths to which the boys will go to show their feelings towards their girlfriends gets a welcome showcase too.
But the MVP, undoubtedly, remains Hilary Rose as Conor’s mother, Mairead, who is as suspicious of the two boys as she is fond. A key scene in a warehouse shows that there’s still space for their relationship to grow, as more barriers are broken down to reveal uncomfortable truths – and that development of their trust is underpinned by a glorious sequence involving a therapist, in which they all take off their “masks” to be open with each other. Mairead’s feeling of having let them down is only matched by her determination not to give up on them, and the show’s ability to dig into both of those without skimping on laughs – or impromptu musical moments – is downright remarkable, especially three seasons in.
The giggles never stop for more than a minute, as the scripts throw every possible farcical scenario at the screen, with the two leading men executing one-liners and physical pratfalls without missing a beat. By the time we’ve witnessed the slowest bike chase in history, it’s beyond a doubt that this BBC Three comedy is one of the channel’s best. If you’ve never seen any of it, don’t expect to doing anything else for the next 24 hours.
The Young Offenders: Season 1 to 3 is available on BBC iPlayer until 20th July 2020