Following the success of its previous original shows (â€œHouse of Cardsâ€, â€œArrested Developmentâ€, â€œOrange is the New Blackâ€), Netflix has recently put out a new show called â€œDerek.â€ Â Â This seven-episode show was created and written by British comedian Ricky Gervais, who also stars as the titular character. Â The show was not rated as highly as its Netflix Original counterparts, but it is much more popular in the UK, where it was filmed.
Derek is a mock- documentary about a mentally handicapped man volunteering in a nursing home. Â To be honest, this made me a little hesitant because, based on Gervaisâ€™s role in â€œThe Officeâ€, I assumed his performance would be satirical. Â However, the show blatantly steers away from any sense of parody with genuine emotions and subtle comic relief. Â The whole thing feels a little bit like a joke without a punchlineâ€” itâ€™s something I feel should be ironic, but ends up being sincere. Â The end effect was that of total corniness. Â A handicapped man meets his father, a man holds his wifeâ€™s hand as she dies, a woman finds love in a hopeless place, every show ends with voiceovers explaining what every character learned that dayâ€” what? Â A part of me thinks this is all some social statement on what we, as viewers, find entertaining â€” we expect (and hope for) the worst.
The character of Derek is basically considered better- than-human on the show. Â Because of his naivete, he doesnâ€™t harbor any malice, greed, lust, ANYTHING! Â I get heâ€™s a good guy, but heâ€™s made out to be a saint. Â The other characters are constantly reiterating the point that he is â€œgood.â€ Â Again, because it is Ricky Gervais playing the role, we are constantly waiting for it to be turned on its head and become a total joke, but it doesnâ€™t. Â When Derek helps the nursing home raise money, when he holds old womenâ€™s hands, when he finally hugs his estranged father, itâ€™s done with incredible genuineness. Â This might be alright for less cynical people, but I found it a little annoying and preachy.
I did like the character of Hannah, the caretaker of the nursing home, who evolved into the showâ€™s darling. Â She has been working at the home for 15 years with little pay, motivated only by her desire to help the elderly. Â She is Derekâ€™s friend and mentor â€” basically, the only one who understands him. Â The whole thing feels very â€œForest and Jennyâ€, Â albeit slightly less creepy. Â Again, her larger- than-life good nature feels both forced and fake, leaving me a bit annoyed at the showâ€™s lack of real character depth.
Overall, I just couldnâ€™t make myself like this show. Â The moralistic tones and unreal characters gave the show a very shallow, fake tone. Â I think Gervais is clearly trying to move his career in a specific direction and attempting to prove himself as a serious writer and actor; however, itâ€™s just too over the top. Â Iâ€™m probably just a pessimist, though, who expects comedy and satire to go hand-in-hand, instead of the possibility for good, clean entertainment with a strong moral backbone.