What Bachelors Walk, an Irish television series from the 00s, does better than many other shows is its ability to present the awkwardness of contemporary life. Recently, I stumbled upon the entire boxset available online via the RTÉ player and felt compelled to write about it.
Nearly two decades ago, the show came out and even looking back at it now, it bristles with relatability and a lightness of tone unfamiliar amid the pessimism of many contemporary Irish dramas.
Certainty its not the ‘pull your teeth’ out awkwardness of the likes of ‘Peep Show’, a London near equivalent comedy show about co-dependent housemates. Bachelors Walk paints a living scene of Dublin in the summertime with a simple use of light jazz and some cracking tunes from the time that make Dublin, Paris. No longer is Dublin the dirty auld town but a place with actual sunshine and people falling in love.
As a millennial watching it, there is an overload of the distant familiar, a nostalgic orgy. The VRC computer screens, the ashtrays on the tables, the cans of Dutch Gold and the haunting ‘bleep bleep’ of a text message received by a Nokia 3410.
Time has passed, and much of Dublin has remained the same. All over the city, there are familiar characters we all know and love in our own communities who bear significant similarities to the trio of unmarried men living in Dublin.
Bar the extraordinary situation of their low rent in the middle of Dublin just as the economy was revving up…. Complaints in the show about an apartment for rent being €800 are laughable today, with average rents being nearly double that. We all know it.
That is why watching the series once again you feel that Paris-like idealism reinforced. A fantasy of what Dublin could be and for the most part actually is.
We might ask ourselves, why is Dublin considered so idealistic in it and even from the days of Joyce meandering around Dublin on a June summer’s day.
A sense of home you might suppose. An uncomfortable love for the mélange that uniquely Dublin creates. A barrister, a journalist and an unemployed guy living together: if that could happen anywhere, it would be in Dublin.
That is what the writers of the show perhaps consciously did. They gave us that sense of comfortable incongruity that we have in so many neighbourhoods in Dublin.
A fancy coffee shop might neighbour a drug treatment centre just down the road, or a chipper will have a little gallery just next door. It’s all part of what Dublin is. Cosmopolitan.
From the Greeks, the idea of a city-state is one that is a comfortable mix of the populous, a blend of many flavours of humanity all within the one place they call home. Cosmopolitan.
In Bachelors Walk, living in number 49, our three lads give us a sense of happy leisure. Sure they have their problems, from romances to nagging parents but tthey give us a sense of a life less hurried. A life more filled with random encounters from three lads living together beginning their day with coffee on their front steps looking out at the Liffey.
The buses are yellow, and the acting is a little awkward but the characters in the portrait of Dublin from the early 00’s we call Bachelor’s Walk cannot help but make one stop and marvel at the idealism it brings to a city consistently portrayed as dirty and ‘auld’, with three lads awkwardly figuring out their lives.
Here’s the first episode, take a look.
Heber Rowan is a Sligo native with a passion for politics. He works in public affairs and enjoys listening to and narrating audiobooks. He can be found on Twitter and occasionally blogs on Medium.com.