Netflix’s Derek is back for a second season beginning this Friday, May 30. The sweet tale of the odd nursing home caretaker, Derek (series creator Ricky Gervais), is set some months after the finale, but for the most part, everything remains the same. The setting, the characters, and the situations all feel familiar, which is a good thing for a show that is both unique and thought-provoking. There will be some new developments, of course, but for now, it’s status quo.
The character of Derek is not easily pigeon-holed. Some have wondered if he has some sort of disability, but whether he does or not is beside the point. This is a guy who would be looked down upon by much of society, writing him off for a lack of intelligence and weird mannerisms. Yet, for those who spend time around him and the viewers who observe Derek, he’s also one of the best people to ever walk the earth, generous and caring, positive and supportive of others.
Derek is genuine and honest. He certainly does what he does because he loves the residents, not because he wants anything from them, and he considers himself lucky to do so, believing he has a pretty good life. In the premiere, he watches a DVD highlighting one those that passed away last season, and it’s impossible not to be moved by the emotion in Derek’s eyes. These are his family, those he most values, and its admirable that he’s so good to them.
I think Gervais created Derek (and this is my personal opinion here) to make us reconsider our preconceived notions. After all, just because racism and homophobia is slowly fading doesn’t mean that we don’t make judgments about other types of people based on a number of factors. It’s not a good thing to admit about oneself, but everyone has their hang ups and assumptions. Derek turns some of those on their heads, not only commenting on society, but also prompting introspection, which will hopefully make those who watch better people overall. Derek considers himself lucky, what right do we have to say any different?
The setting of the nursing home can parallel many of the same things I’ve said about Derek himself. It’s a place most people avoid if they can, and certainly not one anyone would consider fun. But watching the interactions of those who live there and the dedication that the employees, such as Hannah (Kerry Godliman), Dougie (Karl Pilkington), and Vicky (Holli Dempsey), exhibit, presents a whole different view. This is a home, and like your own home, it’s meant to be a place of warmth and love. Derek and his friends do their best to make the residents feel comfortable and happy, and this is an admirable spirit, perhaps one that may even infect a few of those who pay attention.
To make the building feel even more like a family place, Derek’s father, Anthony (Tony Rohr, Les Miserables), moves in during the premiere. Anthony did not raise Derek, and it shows because they are two completely different people. However, it will be very interesting to see if Derek can help Anthony turn over a new leaf at this late stage in life, or if Anthony will be the one person that finally shakes Derek and makes him show a part of himself that isn’t so light.
There is one thing that happens in the first episode back that is more of a threat to the tranquility and smooth operation of the place than Anthony’s arrival. I won’t spoil what it is, but I am quite disappointed and hope it doesn’t stick. It’s not that the development is unrealistic or unwarranted, it does make sense for the story, but it is regrettable.
Derek‘s second season premiere is a great return of a terrific series. While I have only watched the first episode thus far, I certainly look forward to binge-watching the rest this weekend. The entire season will be available streaming to Netflix subscribers this Friday.[amazon asin=B00CA59OJ6]