Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Derek (2013)

Lately, Netflix has garnered well-deserved attention for their outstanding two series, House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, but did you know that they also offer a lesser-known gem called Derek? Derek Noakes is 49 years old, but possesses the mental age of a much younger man, a boy, even. He works as a caregiver in a small English nursing home. His boss and friend, manager Hannah, loves him as all the residents do. Derek cares tenderly for all creatures smaller than him: baby birds, tadpoles, and dogs are among his favorites. He is close to the humans on his watch as well. His adage to live by: “That’s the easiest thing, just be nice.”  

Ricky Gervais is an avowed atheist, but in the character of Derek he has created the best example I’ve seen so far of God working through one of His so-called simpler creatures. Of course, Gervais would beg to differ with me; he might retort that Derek is just being Derek. Derek himself explains that he does not believe in God because there are religious people he’s met “what are nice,” and religious people he’s met “what are not nice.” Several of the characters in Derek echo his beliefs when they affirm that the point of life is to live it with kindness for the sake of those weaker among us who need caring for. The show never cashes in a cheap laugh to mock the elderly. Nor does one ever feel sorry for Derek, who is as complete a human as he can be. When Derek is reunited with his long lost father, expect to shed many a tear.

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