Why I like Netflix’s new Ricky Gervais’ Show “Derek”

Nothing about what am about to write is exactly “retro”, but I wanted to share a show I enjoyed. I am a big fan of television and I am always looking for a show that gets me excited for the medium. “Derek” was not the show I would have though would do that, but it was, and it also is rife with sentimentality, which I think is a characteristic missing from much of modern television. So please indulge me a little on this one…

I had heard Ricky Gervais was doing a new show that would be on Netflix and I knew from my experience with his work that I would check it out. What I did not know, was anything about the show. I suspected it would be a comedy, but that was about it. So when an email popped into my inbox telling me about the new show at around lunchtime, I decided why not get a jump on this thing.


Here is the description of the show I saw in the email:

Ricky Gervais, creator of the original British version of “The Office,” produces and stars in this heartwarming comedy-drama as Derek Noakes, a loyal English nursing home caretaker who sees only the good in everyone. Derek’s sunny outlook comes in handy with his quirky coworkers and friends as they struggle against prejudice, government bureaucracy, and constantly shrinking budgets to care for the elderly residents who depend on them.

“Derek” is not what I expected. It is listed as a comedy-drama and it had comedy elements in it, but the drama parts of the show are not small parts and I got to admit that I found myself tearing up often during the show. Oh, I should mention that I watched the entire run of the show last night. It was not a plan, but I just fell into this world that Gervais had constructed and I did not want to leave it.

Yes, the show feels broad at times and the characters are a big part of that broadness, but there is a lot of talent and charisma here and I quickly started to believe in Derek and his friends and I wanted to see them succeed even thought I knew that darkness was around every corner. After all, this show takes place in a nursing home. Which is not a place I would normally associate with comedy. But that’s what makes the comic points feel purer, since they are pulled from this grim setting that they have made warm with their presence.

This show is supposed to make you cry. A lot of people will hear that and they will not wanting to do with this show. I myself like a show that tries (and they do not need to try too hard for me) to make me cry. I have heard other people criticize “weepy” stories as being obvious or manipulative. As if every other form of entertainment is not manipulative in some way. Maybe it is because crying makes you feel emotional vulnerable? I just don’t know. I do know that Derek worked on me, it worked on me big time, from episode one to episode seven. I can see a lot of people being turned off by its simple and straightforward approach and if you are familiar with Gervais’s other works, you will be constantly waiting for the big joke moment, but it never comes. In “Derek”, like in a lot of shows of the past, what you see is what you get.

As you might guess, I like a lot of those shows from the past and I like “Derek”.

So if you like a nice laugh, maybe a good cry and you are a hardcore sentimentalist like me, why not give Derek a shot. It is silly, broad and sweet. More importantly, it is filled with characters you don’t often see on television and they might just win your hearts. All of season 1 of Derek is currently available on Netflix.


The Retroist

Editor/Podcaster at Retroist
The Retroist is like a BBQ on a bun without the bones. You're only human daddy. Chomp!

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