A Derek Community
Netflix

The world would be a better place if we were all a little more like Derek Noakes, the titular character of Netflix's British import Derek.

That may be a surprising notion, given that Derek—a simple-minded man who works in an old-age home in Britain—is the creation of Ricky Gervais, whose standup comedy and past work on shows like The Office and Extras can be biting, to say the least. Even Gervais admits that Derek, which he describes plainly (and accurately) as "a show about kindness," is less a departure from his previous projects and more a complete rejection of them.

"In recent years—and I'm culpable; I may even be one of the major driving forces in it—there's been a comedy of embarrassment, of excruciating social faux pas, the minutiae of human behavior, and usually the bad side," says Gervais, who plays the lead role of Derek in addition to writing and directing the series. "What's slightly different about [Derek] is, all those comedies and all the characters I've created before were sort of laughing at the blind spot, laughing at the difference between how the characters see themselves and how we see them. And with this, I've closed that blind spot. People are more sincere and more honest. ... The big theme is that kindness trumps everything."

The result is that Derek, the second season of which is now available on Netflix, is completely heartwarming, with laugh-out-loud scenes coming in equal measure to moments that leave a lump in the throat. "I get things like, 'Oh, it's really sweet. It's really surprising. It's not cynical,'" Gervais says of the response to the first season (and the second, which has already aired in Britain). "Which is a compliment and a diss, because people are shocked that I have any sensitivity or understanding of the human condition. [But] I've always studied that. I just exploited the wrong side before. I showed the foibles and the terrible side of it. ... This starts out more sincere and ends more sincere ... but it's still very much what I do."

Filmed in the same documentary style as The Office, Derek chronicles the lives of Derek and his co-workers at the Broad Hill nursing home. Though the plots are straightforward on the surface (one episode revolves around a talent show at the facility), Gervais elevates them with subtle nuances—mostly in the form of unfiltered observations from the childlike Derek—that are often profound. "When you've got a character like Derek, who wears everything on his sleeve, it's just more explicit," Gervais says. "That's a very conscious decision, because I thinkDerek's sort of based on me and all of us, before the weight of the world started telling us what was cool to like and what we could say or what we couldn't say."

In Season 2, which picks up a year after the events of Season 1, Hannah (Kerry Godliman) and Tom (Brett Goldstein) take an important step in their relationship, an antagonistic new employee named Geoff (Colin Hoult) has joined the Broad Hill staff, and Derek's formerly estranged dad Anthony (Tony Rohr) moves into Broad Hill. Derek quickly discovers that his father's womanizing ways haven't changed much—which in turn prompts Derek to try online dating. "In a sweet, funny, interesting, real way, he's still not the father Derek imagined," Gervais says. "He thought that he's getting his dad back and he was going to be a sweet old man. But actually, he's still an old goat. He's still running around chasing women and drinking and smoking, which is stressful for Derek."

If you aren't caught up on Derek already, here are six reasons why you should start watching now:


1. It's perfect for binge-watching

Let's get the practical info out of the way: Derek's entire first season consists of only seven 23-minute episodes, and the second season is comprised of six episodes of the same length. That's basically the same as two standard movies!


2. It's Ricky Gervais like you've never seen him before

On paper, the description ofDerek sounds somewhat cringe-worthy: Ricky Gervais playing a dim-witted (possibly autistic?) nursing home employee. But whatever Derek's shortcomings may be, they're never played for humor—in fact, quite the opposite. "I never thought of him as disabled in any way. I thought of him as different," Gervais says. "Derek's just blissfully happy because he only does what he likes, and he says what he means. He's honest. ... He's got no prejudices. He's great." Gervais can still get a laugh with just the slightest look at the camera, David Brent-style, but Derek's sadder scenes are where he really shines. (Episode 5 of Season 2, which Gervais calls "my favorite episode possibly of anything I've ever done," is a real doozy in that regard.)


3. It's the best kind of "reality" show

In addition to the show's overall single-camera/talking-head aesthetic of the show (in a running joke, Derek repeatedly asks the film crew if they're from Secret Millionaire), the stories themselves are rooted in reality. "I'm still writing about what I know, because all my family were care workers growing up, so I've got 35, 40 years of anecdotes," Gervais says. "You can't compete with real life. You really can't. All you can do is hope eventually people treat it like real life, which is why I like realism so much. It's like the more you make it look real, people think these people are real. ... I think it's very important that people, for that half an hour, think this might be happening next door or to them."


4. It will be your new favorite workplace comedy

Gervais is still unparalleled when it comes to developing fully realized characters using only the smallest details. The crew at Broad Hill includes Kevin (David Earl), a crude alcoholic who basically lives at the nursing home; Vicky (Holli Dempsey), a boy-crazy young volunteer; and Dougie (Karl Pilkington), an overworked and underpaid staff member who eventually quits. Like the patients they care for, the workers find themselves on the fringes of society for various reasons. Fun fact: The character of Kevin is based on someone Gervais knew as a teenager, and who was best friends with the guy on whom The Office's Gareth was based. "The guy who I based Gareth on once bet the guy I based Kev on that he wouldn't eat some [vomit], and he did," Gervais says. "They were two 14-, 15-year-old absolute idiots." And in a familiar TV workplace scenario, Derek also features a romance to root for between Hannah and Tom, though it's not without realistic ups-and-downs. "I don't want it to be just a weird, idyllic, strange, never-happens-ever sort of romance," Gervais says. "I like complicated."


5. The episodes are "a workout for the soul" 

With Derek, Gervais masterfully toes the line between making the show sweet but not saccharine. He's delivering a message, to be sure, but he manages to do it in a way that never feels didactic or eyeroll-inducing — even when he rips off the reality TV trope of ending an episode with a Coldplay song. "These are 23-minute fables, really," Gervais says of the individual episodes. "Even though it looks very real and sort of gritty and down-to-earth, they're sort of like fairy-tales. ... They're a little workout for the soul, I think. (Laughs). [Derek's] got more in common with The Waltons than something like Curb Your Enthusiasm."


6. It's unlike any other show on any platform

There are times when Derek feels like a farcical sitcom, and times when it feels like a heavy-handed drama. By blurring the lines between the two genres, Gervais has created a series that any viewer will be able to relate to on some level. "Even when I did The Office, I knew that I'd rather it be a million people's favorite show than 10 million people's 10th-favorite show," Gervais says. "That's so much more important to me, that a few people connect with it like they haven't connected before."


All six episodes of Derek Season 2 are available now.


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 5/30/2014

Season 2 : Episode 6

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I can't believe the comments I have just read. Derek is probably the most sincere, heart warming and life affirming show I have ever watched. Maybe it's just the British humour going over peoples heads. The show is equal terms funny and sweet with the characters feeling like real people unlike most American sitcoms. Plus this in no way degrades the mentally challenged as the title character is portrayed as a top rate human being and should put the rest of us to shame (I have a cousin who is mentally handicapped and he is a lovely innocent person just like Derek). Ricky Gervais is a genius in my opinion and writes human characters better than anyone else in the industry.
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Derek is both hilarious and heart-warming. Ricky is great as Derek and Kyle Pilkington is the best!
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2 reasons you not want to watch this:

1. you got no Netflix and not want it at all!
2. You don't think this kind show is any good. And can't believe someone payed them money to make this!
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No thanks. The mentally handicapped should get this show thrown off the air.

It's disgusting.
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Indeed!
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Looks like most commenters hate the show. I don't, it's actually pretty good and it grows on you but it does have some issues that holds it back. One is the mockumentary style. It's tired, we've all had enough of it and having people gawking at the camera makes me cringe. I know Gervais wants a cinema verite thing but he will need to find a new method if he's going to continue to make TV shows.

Strangely also the show has a real lack of subtletly in some areas while being so careful in others. Especially when characters talk about Derek. We'd barely even met him before characters starting stridently calling him the best thing since sliced bread in their confession cams and they continued throughout Season 1, over and over again. I think Gervais might be trying to tell us something! Something so important we couldn't glean it for ourselves via subtle and complex moments. One character singing his praises once at a worthy moment after many episodes of build up could have been an incredibly powerful moment (like Derek meeting his dad was) but Gervais obviously thought it was far too important for that. Maybe he'll lighten up in Season 2.

There's also the Home itself, it's always in jeopardy of closing - good drama but the reasons they gave for it staying afloat were less than convincing. Maybe they reflect the flaws in the characters and in that case its a good thing but if they keep it up it will be yet another case of a show dragging out a premise with increasingly poor excuses.

But overall the show is pretty good and its one of a kind really. Plus I'm thrilled to see Karl Pilkington acting. I'm still looking forward to Season 2.
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If this show isn't saccharine then I don't know what is. Gervais' self-inflated opinion of his own work is exactly the kind of celebrity nonsense he used to ridicule. If you want a "work-out for the soul" watch Enlightened or Louie, something with a little depth.

P.S. [Gervais has created a series that any viewer will be able to relate to on some level. "Even when I did The Office, I knew that I'd rather it be a million people's favorite show than 10 million people's 10th-favorite show," Gervais says.]
Gervais' quote sort of contradicts your point.
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This really does'nt do disabled people any favours !
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Okay. You convinced me. I shall give it a try since there is nothing else on.
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I am from the UK so this could be considered treasonous but I really do believe Ricky Gervais is the most overrated person on the tellybox and let's not even get started on his foray into movies...
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For me Derek is the worst show Gervais has made, and Life's Too Short wasn't exactly great. Other than the few scenes with Karl Pilkington (who basically plays himself) its simply not funny and that Kevin character is probably the most irritating person I've ever seen on TV.

It tries to be heartwarming but all the plots are far too obvious and told with no subtlety whatsoever.

For the UK Office is still one of the best comedies of all time, so this is not coming from someone that doesn't like Ricky Gervais, but if he haven't watched Derek yet don't bother.
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Disappointing that the character of Dougie will barely be in this second series.
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The hunched man loped out of the care home, a dark figure, bloodied and radiant. His job was done. Inside they would find the horrors and know that he was back...back for good. Never again would he be rejected from prime time network slots in favour of this turgid mawkfest. Hobo smiled and pulled out a brown paper bag. He lit it and threw it into the dim entrance of Broad Hill.

An hour later the care home was gone. So too was Hobo.

Hobo: Series 2 - Coming this Fall on Netfux Prime.
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i have one reason not to watch it..

and that's ricky gervais..
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Personally, I found 'Derek' a tad on the boring side. Then again, I've only watched 3-4 episodes, so maybe I've been unlucky. Not that I care, it felt boring.
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