Ricky Gervais returned for a second season of Derek on Channel 4 in the UK, and on Netflix in the US. As with the first season, the show focuses on an elderly home, its workers, and its residents. Derek, played by Gervais, is a slow, but kind-hearted. The whole point of the show is that being kind is better than being smart, and that it will make you happier than money or accomplishment. So our heroes and heroines are humble people. Derek, and especially Hannah, who runs the nursing home.
Ricky Gervais said that acting made Karl way too nervous, and Karl has admitted he really disliked it. Compared to An Idiot Abroad, where he traveled and saw new things, he did not enjoy sitting in a small trailer in Uxbridge between scenes. Understandable. I don’t even know where Uxbridge is, but I don’t think I’d fancy spending time in a trailer there.
Taking up a larger chunk of time, to make up for Dougie’s absence, is Kev. The foul-mouthed slob accepted at the nursing home because he makes Derek laugh. I have to wonder why Derek gets nearly whatever he wants in life. Kev, in season one, is pretty awful. With Dougie gone in season 2, he is slowly and haltingly redeemed. Not all the way to normalcy, but to a place where we can hope good things happen to him.
Here’s the problem with Derek. The world it presents is just too simple. Everyone is too good. For me, since I’m an emotional and optimistic person, this isn’t such a big deal. It doesn’t bother me too much while I’m watching the show, but afterwards it gnaws at me when I think back. Because even if everyone were inherently good, all the different ways people think they are doing ‘good’ means there will always be opposition to one thing in favor of another. There will always be conflict.
So the show is unrealistic, to the point of being hard to swallow. I cry in every episode.
But one episode nearly killed me, after what I went through earlier this year.
In one episode, Ivor the dog has to be put down. He’s quite old and very sick, so it’s not as tragic as it might be. But, the subject matter hit so close to home that we (my bf and I) had to stop the show and weep for a good 10 minutes before we could continue. I’m crying a little just thinking about it. So I can’t be too cynical about this show, because there are moments in life that bring out true and unadulterated emotions, and Derek is good about showing these moments. Since most TV shows don’t give death much weight at all, it’s good to have a counterpoint. Something uncynical. It’s too simple, but I’d rather watch a show that is too simple and promotes kindness and unmaterialistic goodness, than watch a show that is too simple and promotes violence, tawdry affairs, and materialistic bullshit.