Review: Season 2 of Ricky Gervais's 'Derek' airs on Netflix May 30

Posted May 27, 2014 by Mindy Peterman
In "Derek", Ricky Gervais proves he can write and portray a character who is simple yet likable and is in no way brash or mean-spirited like many of his creations who have come before.
Ricky Gervais has a long-standing history of creating snarky, not entirely likable characters. His most celebrated creation was, of course, David Brent from the original U.K. The Office series, (Brent was the inspiration for the U.S. version’s Michael Scott). But Gervais has a softer side, hinted at in his series Extras, where he played the down on his luck actor Andy Millman, whose efforts at climbing the ladder to fame often failed in the most embarrassingly cringeworthy ways.
Now there is Derek, a “mockumentary” style series, written by Gervais, whose lead character is Derek Noakes (played by Gervais), a 49-year-old care worker at a home for the elderly. Derek is a good-hearted, simple soul, who sees (or really wants to see) the good in everyone. He goes above and beyond to make sure his charges are happy, and is often treated poorly by those who don’t understand his good heart and selfless intentions. Gervais claims the character is not mentally challenged, as many critics believe, but is “based on those people you meet who are on the margins of society. Nerds, loners, under achievers.”
The first 6 episodes of of Derek premiered on Netflix in September 2013, and beginning Friday, May 30, all 6 episodes of the second season will also be available to view. The first episode of the second season is where I began, armed only with a few preconceived notions about Gervais’s work and the general plot line of the series. I found the show less brash than Gervais’s previous projects, the character easier to like. Derek’s relationship with the residents of the home is at times humorous and other times sad. His colleagues, although not entirely mean to him, do treat him with some condescension that mostly goes over his head (but not always). The character is smarter than he looks.
The best moment of this episode is when Derek’s father arrives to live at the home. He is everything his son is not: a charmer, suave and sexually knowing. But there is a lovely moment between him and Derek that proves they have more in common than at first meets the eye. And the last few moments of the episode are wonderfully, albeit sadly, sentimental.
I came away from watching Derek with a new respect for Ricky Gervais. As an actor and writer he has finally created a character you will like and truly want to succeed.