On Sept. 12, 2013, Netflix dropped the entire season of Ricky Gervais' newest project “Derek” at 12:01 a.m., allowing viewers to watch the series at their own pace. The show addresses pushed aside issues like senior care, true friendships and above all else kindness. Every episode has as many belly laughs as tear inducing moments, creating a viewing experience unlike any that has come before. As with “The Office,” Gervais is setting the new standard for television and hopefully the big networks will follow suit by creating more shows with real characters, true story lines and actual emotion.
“Derek” follows the title character of Derek Noakes as he spends his time brightening the lives of the residents at the struggling Broad Hill senior living facility. He is a simple man who gets thrills from finding a toad or helping a resident with her lottery tickets. Derek lives his life without judgement or self consciousness which has a profound effect on everyone he meets. Hannah, who is played with incredible realism by Kerry Godliman, runs Broad Hill and always puts the needs of the residents above her own. Derek would do anything for Hannah and throughout the series we see that she always has his back, going as far as headbutting a mean girl for making fun of him.
Frequent Gervais collaborator Karl Pilkington plays Derek's best friend, the Broad Hill groundskeeper Dougie. Working at Broad Hill isn't just a paycheck for Dougie. He cares deeply for the residents and the staff, defending them against bullies, government officials and even the greedy children of the residents. The gang is completed by Kev, Derek and Dougie's friend, who spends his ample free time hanging out at Broad Hill. Kev is sex obsessed and offers up some of the shows funniest one liners.
Netflix continues to raise the bar with their original content. The political drama “House of Cards” made history by becoming the first digitally distributed series to be nominated for an Emmy Award. “Arrested Development” season four was a ratings winner for the streaming service and “Orange is the New Black” and “Hemlock Grove” have both been renewed for a second seasons. Earlier this year, Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos announced that the online service would be doubling their original content budget in the next couple of years. This is great news for fans of cutting edge content across the globe.
What makes “Derek” so special is that Gervais was some how able to perfectly fuse emotion with humor as he addresses topics that don't seem to be popular on network television. He took a huge risk, not only with this content, but also by fearlessly portraying Derek as a pure and innocent soul. “Derek” has been renewed by Channel 4 in the U.K. where it originally aired, giving fans hope that “kindness is magic” and there is a place for it in modern mainstream culture.