Derek Season 1 Review: The Best Shortcut through Life is Kindness

  Dat underbite.

Dat underbite.

 Chad White, Learned kindness from television, Only mean to keep up appearances

Netflix continues its original content onslaught with Ricky Gervais’ dramedy, Derek.

Right off the bat, there’s been some news around this show since the first trailer aired. The controversy surrounded Gervais’ performance as the titular character of Derek. He uses an underbite with a slumped, hunchback posture and a childlike demeanor. The anger arose from the idea that Gervais is playing Derek to be autistic. From certain standpoints, I can totally see where they’re coming from. Derek does come off as someone with special needs for the 10 seconds that he talks in any of the trailers. But that’s not what it’s about. Once you actually sit down and watch an episode, you can see he’s much more than that. Derek is a caring, kindhearted individual. That’s it. Nothing makes this character appear offensive. He is truly the purest person I’ve ever seen on television/internets. That’s all anyone should ever think.

Now that the nastiness is out of the way, on to the good stuff.

Derek is great show to binge watch. I can’t really see myself waiting week after week to see this. It’s good but not that good. The story here is that Derek is a 50 year old man that works in a retirement home called Broad Hills. Other major characters include manager of the home Hannah, played by Kerry Godliman, and handyman Dougie, played everybody’s favorite British punching bag, An Idiot Abroad host Karl Pilkington. Hannah is the typical “I started 15 years ago and didn’t expect to stay here but here I am” character. She’s not given much to do but lead the plot along. The real standout is Pilkington’s Dougie. He’s constantly funny in every situation. Dougie hates his life but does nothing to change it. He’s always angry at Derek for his inane questions or their other mutual friend, Kev, for his sloppiness. Pilkington is even given some unexpected dramatic wisdom too.

Each of the seven episodes is  good enough on its own to hold a plot point. The problem is, the plot doesn’t matter much. Each episode deals with something simple like the home getting a community service worker or Derek’s birthday. Not much characterization goes down within these stories but these situations are very funny. It’s only when a resident dies that you see the heart in Derek (especially the last episode).

Should you watch Derek?

Yes. It’s funny, it makes you feel good, and it’s short. You won’t lose anything by spending four or five hours watching this dramedy. Sadly, you won’t gain much emotional attachment to its characters or stories either.

Season Grade: B or 3.82 Kittens out of 5


Derek is available only on Netflix Instant.