“Derek,” another of Ricky Gervais’ beloved comedies, aired its pilot episode on the British network, Channel 4, back in 2012, but will now be available to viewers with a Netflix account this week. From the show’s trailer, it looks to be filmed in a similar style to Gervais’ popular project, “The Office.” Gervais himself plays the character of Derek, who is a quirky, aging man working at a nursing home.
On the surface, the premise of “Derek” seems harmless, but Gervais isn’t one to avoid bad press for his work. The British star was accused of making fun of people with disabilities when the first episode aired on British television.
In an interview with Dave Itzkoff of the New York Times, Gervais mentioned that anything can be taken offensively, and that while he never sets out to upset viewers, sometimes it’s just “too easy.”
Despite this controversy, when “Derek” was first introduced many viewers still valued his vision for the show, understanding that Gervais has a tendency to portray slightly out of touch characters. For example, he plays David Brent in “The Office,” the equivalent of Steve Carell’s Michael Scott in the U.S. adaptation of the show. Anyone who is an avid watcher of either version of “The Office” would say that after getting to know the character and get past the bizarre qualities, it is nearly impossible not to like him. The same holds true with “Derek,” who is portrayed as an awkward and bumbling man who has a genuine desire to help, and a good heart.
The irony behind Gervais’s silly roles is that in interviews and on Twitter he comes off as both tolerant and intelligent. “Everyone has the right to hold any belief,” one of his tweets reads. So, why does Gervais choose to play characters like Derek? Perhaps Gervais is able to find different kinds of satisfaction in exploring different mediums of comedy.
According to channel 4, “Derek” brought in around two million viewers. This means that not only will streaming through Netflix increase this number, but it will also allow Gervais to avoid the censorship that certain networks require.
Viewers will simply have to wait for “Derek” to release Sept. 12 to find out if Gervais’ tendency to go bold is the reason for the Netflix release in the U.S.
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