Derek is a British comedy-drama so well written, directed by and starring Ricky Gervais. It’s a master piece of modern British comedy. It’s what a friend of mine calls “the future of comedy”. I’ve never quite watched anything this spectacular. Ricky Gervais has wittily created a concoction of British humour and contemporary drama. The 7-episodes series tickles one’s funny bone and promises to tug at your heartstrings, all at the same time.
Set in a simple old people’s home that’s under threat of closure due to budget cuts, the series is shot in a documentary style featuring one of the centre’s helpers, who appears naive and simple-minded, Derek, marvelously played by Rickey Gervais. Derek enjoys watching reality TV shows, game shows and animals on YouTube. He is neither dashing nor intelligent. All that matters to Derek is that he’s kind.
The series is such a success and I reckon credit needs to be given to the supporting roles that very well compliment Derek’s. There’s Hannah (Kerry Godliman), a dedicated and hardworking member of staff at the home, Dougie (Karl Pilkington) the home’s caretaker who’s pretty much just like Karl Pilkington himself who moans about every darn thing, Kev (David Earl), a friend of Derek’s who doesn’t work at the home but hangs out there anyway.
Derek stands out and surpasses the other comedies I’ve watched because its subject matter (caring for the old, the disadvantaged, mainstream society vs those ostracised etc) is cleverly portrayed. Every single episode is heartwarming. Even though Gervais is undoubtedly the lead, each actor/actress is given the right amount of exposure in this mockumentary to make them grow on you. You will find yourself liking each of them, understanding them and being able to relate to them. You will end up caring for them even though the series is only 7 episodes long.
Here’s the pilot episode to get you started! These videos are available from 4oDComedy on YouTube.
P.S I decided to give the episodes titles since they don’t exist on YouTube or the actual show.
From a non-British point of view, I suppose I understand why some people do not enjoy British humour. If I had to paint a broad overview of British humour, I would say sarcasm is the pillar of it. Not every culture appreciates it and I don’t know of a culture that tolerates it as much as the Brits. There is also no doubt that one will find sexual innuendo in Derek. Often, it’ll make you cringe but they are often disgustingly funny. Unlike most productions, the characters in Derek speak naturally thus making it a challenge for those who aren’t used to the British accent. (I reckon it’s a bloody good piece to show that NOT everyone speaks Queen’s English!) The depth of the story and the growth of each character is overwhelming impressive and that, I reckon, makes it such a success.
I’ve tried not to write too much plot related details in this post to not ruin your watching experience. I cannot emphasise further what a brilliant, smart, amazing, touching and hilarious comedy-drama this is. Watch it for yourself.