Reviewed! Ricky Gervais’ ‘Derek’ Examines the Sorrow of Growing Old

/ Sep 17, 2013

'Derek Special' debuting on Netflilx April 3

We ranked it:





“Derek” aches, it’s the type of show that you feel rooting around in your chest hours after you’ve finished watching it. But from the man who created the painfully tragic David Brent, is any of this surprising? From the start, show creator Ricky Gervais tugs on the collective heartstrings of his audience. “Derek” is often funny and occasionally grotesque, but above all, this Netflix semi-original is dripping with sorrow.

But that’s what we signed up for, isn’t it? No one turns on a show about the residents of a retirement home expecting anything less than utter tragedy. Melancholy seems to be where Gervais feels the most at home (so to speak) in “Derek.” The residents fill their time with board games and menial events while trying their damndest to ignore the spectre of death hanging over each of their heads. The staff, if possible, are far worse. Gervais lingers on these lost souls dissecting their sadness almost to the point of sadism. For a comedy, “Derek” is hard to watch.

Derek (Gervais) is the saccharine core of this show. A member of the staff with questionable mental facilities, Derek tows the line between frustratingly sweet and excruciatingly simple. Yet without Derek, the series would simply be a morass of bitter weirdos who are charged with looking after equally anomalous retirees. Derek is the only kind of character Gervais would write for himself, socially challenged yet the anchor among the ghosts that inhabit this show. Derek, in his thankless caring, gives the staff and the residents reason to give a damn even when death is knocking on the door.

This, of course, is the truly tragic driving force behind Derek. Death, it hangs like a grim mobile above the entire show. We have the residents, dying and alone, surrounded by caretakers who are younger yet ultimately staring death in the face day after day. The staff cannot avoid the fact that they will one day die, it’s all around them. And when faced with that harsh, unavoidable truth, what else can you do but examine your own failings?

With the great beyond quietly calling, the staff are forced to either wait placidly or make the most of life while it remains. If you haven’t figured it out already, the “staff” is you, the viewer.

“Derek” is painful and sweet; it’s like watching your best friend leave the country to pursue a dream job. It hurts; it hurts like hell, but ultimately we know it’s for the best. The cast of “Derek” must suffer so that we can recognize the truth behind our own mortality. “Derek” asks us one question: When death comes calling, will we be filled with regret, or the certainty that we made the most of every minute given to us?

Tags: , , ,


FCC Cancels Vote on ‘Unlock the Box’ OTT Proposal


Collab Signs Horror Channel BlackBoxTV to Network, Partners on...

PewDiePie 3-2-15

PewDiePie Expands Revelmode Gaming Slate with DoubleMoose Deal


Storyful Launches Viral Video Marketplace

Industry Tickets Selling Fast!
Click above to lock in your registration for VidCon 2015!

Pioneering Hip Hop Exec Lyor Cohen Joins YouTube as Global Head...


Legendary Digital Reveals Alpha Subscription Service Launch...


Time Inc. Teams with Digital Comedy Producers Jash for Branded Content

Amazon Logo

Amazon Greenlights Three Comedy Pilots as Series


How the Cartoon Network Combined the Best of VOD and Linear TV...


Jukin Media Goes Viral for Brands with Ethos Division Launch

Streamy Awards

Streamy Awards Trade In VH1 for YouTube, Again


Matching Ads to Videos Not So Simple, According to Zefr’s...


Plug Pulled on Canadian SVOD Service Shomi


What’s Trending on the Twitter Sale

Machinima Logo

Machinima Teams with SiriusXM for Daily Esports Radio Show


AwesomenessTV, Vice, Complex to Power New HearstLive...


VIDEO: ‘Dirty 30’ Confessions with Stars Hart,...


Facebook Says It’s Sorry It Vastly Overestimated Video...


Pilgrim Media Group CEO Craig Piligian (‘The...


Heroes or Rats?: YouTube Unveils New Program for Creators Who...

Vessel says it's doing well in its first month

Why Verizon is Pursuing Vessel, the...


How Canvs Media is Harvesting Emotional Insights on YouTube,...


Marlon Wayans Getting ‘Naked’ for Netflix with Regina Hall


HuffPost RYOT Launching Virtual Reality Comedy Series and News...


YouTube Launches #voteIRL Campaign Targeting Digital-First Generation


How Top YouTubers (incl. Tyler Oakley & Meghan Rienks)...


Charlie Sheen to Star in Crackle Feature ‘Mad Families’


Gunpowder & Sky Buys Distributor FilmBuff As Vision for...


Toy Freaks Top Viewed YouTube Channel in August According to...


Emmy Wrap-Up 2016: Jeffrey Tambor (‘Transparent’)...


Twitter Scores 2.1 Million Viewers for Thursday Night Footall Kickoff


Vloggers Not Unique Snowflakes: 90 Million Flag YouTube Videos...

Mode Media

‘Billion Dollar Startup’ Mode Media Shuts Down


Who Is Winning The Marketing Revolution And Why?


Netflix Orders ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ Series...


What Is ‘Swedish Dicks’ and Who Is Selling It?


How GMC is Using the AOL Series ‘Seamlessly She’...


Liberty Global to Put Netflix on Set-Top Boxes in 30 Countries


Getting to the Spine of VR’s Monetization Challenges with...


Meredith Hosted Its Own “Front” Stacked with 20 New Series