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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Derek is a sweet streaming series about a man who works in a senior residence home. There is some cursing, including unbleeped four-letter words, which are usually uttered in a jocular way rather than in anger or directed unkindly at other characters. There also are sexual jokes, including jokes about pregnancy, homosexuality, and venereal disease. One character is quite sexual and often expresses his desire for women in the cast in blunt, joking terms. Characters are sometimes shown nude in visual jokes, with their private parts blurred. There also is some cartoonish violence, such as when one character head-butts another to protest her insults toward Derek. Some scenes take place in a pub, and characters drink beer frequently on-screen. Kids likely will not get a lot of the jokes, which skew very British and require a knowledge of words such as "knackered" and what a "council flat" is. But Anglophiles and lovers of gentle sitcoms will warm to this material, and it could be great whole-family viewing that includes mature teens.
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What's the story?
Ricky Gervais, the man who brought you the original version of The Office, is DEREK, a sweet, humble fellow who has no girlfriend or wife and no higher education, who lives in a crummy apartment with his shabby best friend, and who has a dead-end job at a senior center. Yet he is, as he says, the luckiest man in the whole world. He loves the seniors he works with, he loves his coworkers, he adores his best friends Dougy and Kev, and he loves watching animal videos on YouTube and having a beer down at the pub. The goings-on on Derek (much like those of the original Office) are extremely mundane: Derek and Dougy ride downtown on the senior bus to get lottery tickets; Derek shows the camera his favorite fish pond. But when budget cuts threaten the senior home, Derek and everyone else he knows has to swing into action to save it.
Is it any good?
Derek is a kindly if bumbling character with great love for his coworkers, his two best friends, and the seniors who live where he works. "Old people are nicer to me than other people," says Derek, who doesn't mind clipping their toenails or holding their hands until they fall asleep. Genuine sweetness on television sitcoms is pretty rare, as are characters who treat each other with love and kindness even while they crack jokes about "sex pudding" or annoy each other with unfashionable hairdos.
The gentle sweetness of Derek is leavened with British silliness; viewers who enjoyed the original Office also will probably enjoy this (and its format is a similar mockumentary style). Certainly there's nothing like it on television, and it's all the more surprising coming from a crass, often biting guy like Gervais, best known in America for playing a jerky boss and ticking people off as a Golden Globes host. Parents who can handle the cursing and sex jokes probably will enjoy watching with their older kids; if said kids can understand the characters' mumbling, deadpan style, they'll probably enjoy watching it, too.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Ricky Gervais' past in television. Is it odd that a man known for biting, caustic humor is playing such a sweet part? Is it hard to buy Derek's sweetness given Gervais' reputation and history?
Are the characters on Derek supposed to be poor, middle-class, or rich? What gives you this idea? The way they dress? The way they speak? The places in which they live and work?
Older people are seldom seen on TV shows. Which programs featuring older characters can you think of? Why are there so few senior characters on television? Are the seniors on Derek main characters or secondary characters?
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