‘Derek’ is lovable, brilliant

“She said, ‘Kindness is magic, Derek. It’s more important to be kind than to be clever, or good-looking.’ I’m not clever or good-looking, but I’m kind.”

And, joining in Derek’s memory of his deceased friend, the waterworks began.

Ricky Gervais has taken a new approach to comedy in his mockumentary series “Derek,” a heart-warming story about the life of a 50-year-old man with a cute, under-bite smile who works at Broad Hill nursing home. 

The camera crew gets to know Derek by following him through a variety of situations. From his obsession with adorable yet demented animal videos on YouTube, to unsuccessfully soliciting donations from the public on a crowded street, to helping a mandatory community service volunteer overcome her ego (who says her favorite thing to read is Twitter), his unintentional sense of humor is the perfect highlight.

Though Derek Noakes (Gervais) is inherently “different” from others—some characters have guessed autism or Asperger’s, but nothing is ever confirmed—Derek quickly proves to be the absolute best person to be around. His heart of gold, accidentally hilarious mishaps and genuine love for his friends win the audience’s loyalty within the first five minutes of the very first episode. 

Derek has a remarkable unfiltered, innocent honesty that further demonstrates his immunity to certain social expectations; after catching sight of his friend’s deformed penis and being told not to tell anyone, Derek returns to the rest of his friends in silence. After another friend asks him what’s wrong, he bluntly replies, “I’ve just seen the worstest penis in the whole world.”

But his lack of filtration is never enough for anyone to hold a grudge; Derek is equally kind to everybody that he meets. Loved by every single person at the home, his indifference to physical, mental or economic qualities is a funny, special and often tear-jerking lesson to us all that kindness truly is the only thing that matters. 

Derek has a tight circle of friends: Dougie (Karl Pilkington), the apathetically wise and witty caretaker who always offers much more than his two cents; Kev (David Earl), the incredibly creepy, sex-obsessed loner who doesn’t even work at the home and always says the wrong things (e.g., “I do not see the point of the female orgasm, whatsoever”); and Hannah (Kerry Godliman), the head nurse and the most selfless person you’ll ever meet (even more than Derek).

Each of the four often appear to outsiders as weird, failures or losers, and the audience strongly resists the urge to punch the television when these obnoxious and undeservingly fortunate snobs verbally spit on our friends. But alas, Gervais’ writing is an excellent wake-up call that the real world is not always movie perfect; even though the bad guys often win, sometimes just knowing you’re the good guy is enough to get you through a rough battle.

In an increasingly judgmental, appearance-based world, “Derek” is the perfect remedy. Through unbeatable British comedy, charm, wisdom and sensitivity, the series humbles and refocuses the audience’s attention to generosity in the real world; it truly stands apart from anything else available on television.

The first season of “Derek” is available for streaming on Netflix. A second season is reportedly coming soon.