Ricky Gervais is not the most likable guy. If your only experience with him was watching as he hosted the 2011 and 2012 Golden Globes or his outspokeness about atheism, his name will inspire some kind of feeling inside you. Which makes his new comedy Derek, premiering in its entirety on Netflix tomorrow, an easy target.
The mockumentary-style comedy follows the day-to-day routine of a group of caregivers at a nursing home. Gervais, as the titular character, isn't The Office's David Brent in a different setting. He's more of a homely and endearing character, like a big kid in a grown man's body. He's the kind of character that's got media sources speculating about his autism, and criticizing Gervais for poking fun at the condition. The comedian has explicitly stated that Derek is not mentally disabled.
“It’s a shame that speculation gets in the way, but people want headlines. People want hits. They want to say something on their blog," said Gervais regarding the backlash against Derek. "I don’t think it’s controversial at all. I think it’s incredibly sincere and sweet."
And Gervais won't stop fighting back against the critics who try to diminish his latest work. Moreso than The Office and Extras, Gervais' previous two comedies, Derek is a bittersweet project for Gervais that hits close to home.
"Five or six of the women in my family growing up were and are still carers," said Gervais. "They still work with the elderly and people that have Alzheimer's. I’ve got years of stories from them. Some would make me cry, some would have me in tears of laughter."