Regular readers will know that yours truly has not generally been in the habit of flicking over to the national broadcaster on whatever weeknights the programme is on to take in the goings on in Carraigstown. We will, for now, say nothing more unkind about the show than that – the actors and writers undoubtedly work hard. And once in a while, they hit on something exceptional, even if, as perhaps in this case, they do so by accident.
Second look at Fair City? Excuse the language in the tweet below.
This is fucking awful. Who watches this shit. pic.twitter.com/QyyFO0pS94
— Celtard 🥃🍺🇨🇮 (@Celtard) August 22, 2023
The intention here, presumably, is that the national soap opera should reflect, in some small ways, well, the national soap opera. If the great and the good are living in utter fear of the rise of the far right, then it’s only fair that the fictional denizens of Carraigstown should have one of the “fash” in their midst as well, spreading all kinds of misinformation and disinformation about vaccines and immigration and the new world order. They’re easing him in gently, but don’t be surprised if Far Right Fergal slowly ramps it up over the next few weeks and ends up burning down an immigration centre, or something.
It’s important to remember here that Fair City isn’t just a drama programme. It also serves a valuable purpose in allowing the dregs of Ireland’s “Arts Community” to have a voice in the national conversation, and to nudge the kind of older viewer who doesn’t know Netflix exists into thinking the right way about the topics of the day. Is there a referendum coming up on some hot button social issue? Then expect to see a Fair City resident needing an abortion, or gender affirming care, or whatever the topic of the day is on which we all need to be reminded to be compassionate.
In this case, you might expect Fergal to slowly edge his way into extremism over the coming weeks and months, if the character hangs around, precisely because that’s the social message the show wants to convey: Oh, it might start with somebody wondering innocently about the dangers of a cashless society, but that kind of thing ends with violence and mayhem. If you hear a relative talking like this, be aware that you might have a far right extremist on your hands.
The other potential dramatic path for the writers is simply to make poor old Fergal entirely insufferable – slowly ramping up his belief in conspiracy theories to the point where every conversation devolves into some rant about the New World Order. People like that do exist, of course, so that might be slightly more believable. Again though, the purpose of the drama would be to warn the viewers: If you hear somebody mentioning the ineffectiveness of Climate Policy, run away for the sake of your own sanity.
But what if it all backfires? There might well be people at home watching Fair City who think a lot of the things Fergal thinks, after all. And my best guess is that if you are a Fair City viewer, you are probably a consumer of RTE news and current affairs. If you are, then chances are you’ve basically never heard anybody raising concerns about a cashless society, or articulating fears about immigration, or questioning covid lockdowns, or whatever other opinion Far Right Fergal decides to air over the coming months. What if Fair City accidentally radicalises the old? If that happens, poor Fergal might not be long for the world.
In any case, there’s a reasonable chance that Fair City might not be long for the world as it is. If you wanted a poetic way to wrap up the series, if it falls foul of RTE’s financial troubles, what better way than to have Fergal ranting about invasions of immigrants coming to supplant the local people, and then for Fair City to be cancelled and the set converted to migrant accommodation? You’d kill two birds with one stone there – RTE could simultaneously make a comment on their own decline in relevance and standing, and at the same time do some good for the unhoused of the world.
Either way, if you’re a Fair City viewer, keep me appraised of Fergal’s antics as the weeks go on.