Netflix Review: “Derek”

Photo courtesy of Pixabay user kreatikar.Photo courtesy of Pixabay user kreatikar.

By 8:30 a.m. this morning I had both eaten a pomegranate and cried, so I was off to a pretty good start. First of all, pomegranates are amazing, and any day that begins with one is subsequently an amazing day. The reason for the crying (and it was happy crying, mind you) was because I watched the final episode of the Netflix series Derek.

Derek is Ricky Gervais’ newest project, in which he wrote, directed and starred in the dramatic and feel-good series. It is about a slightly mentally challenged man who happily works in a nursing home. His simple mind and his apparent level of caring for others instantly makes him both a fan favorite and a favorite among the characters of the show. Derek’s unique attitude toward life, contrasted with the other characters’ struggles with stress, apathy, alcoholism and old age, gives the viewer a brand new perspective on life in a way that subtly encourages everyone to reevaluate what is important in life and what can be done without.

Ricky Gervais’ humor in Derek is not the typical offensive and abrasive style that fans are used to. Those, like myself, who love his comedic style will be pleasantly surprised at his complete change of attitude and obvious versatility, while those normally turned off to how he acts can approach Derek expecting a new view of the famous British comedian. At times I found myself morally confused on how to feel during episodes of the show. On the one hand, Gervais’ character is innocent, funny and, in all honesty, adorable. Laughing at his simplicity and childlike views of the world seems natural until you remember that Derek is mentally challenged, and suddenly it feels wrong. In no way does the show exploit the character of Derek, but it still makes you reflect on what is funny and why.

The supporting characters round out the moral and ethical aspects of the show and are the driving force behind Derek‘s narrative form. Each of the main, supporting characters, in having flaws and being emotionally broken, is open to personal development through some experience in the show. More often than not, Derek, whether on purpose or not, helps other people realize things about themselves that make them better people. Whether it’s the lazy drunk realizing he’s been wasting his life by never applying himself or the cynical, negative maintenance worker who realizes he needs to have a more positive outlook on life, characters in the show grow into ideal people throughout the 7 episodes. In this sense, the show is not only a feelgood series, but it is brilliantly written and certainly not like the typical cable television garbage that is so prominent these days.

Netflix has once again released a series worthy of our time. Though a second season of Derek has been rumored to be produced at some point, the final episode of what is currently available is inspiring, emotional, funny and reflective. Like all of Ricky Gervais’ shows (my mind instantly goes to The Office), the end does not disappoint viewers. Check out Derek exclusively on Netflix now and try to not have a better outlook on life.