When Netflix released the trailer of this show about a month ago, it was met with positive responses to its description that boasted of educating us in the history and the impact of swear words in cultural and political scenarios. What we got is 20 minutes of colourful illustrations, a not so funny Nicolas Cage and a horde of comedians who spend half the time swearing and giggling over it like 5 year-olds.
History Of Swear Words gives a stage to 6 swear words from the popular vocabulary – f**k, s**t, bitch, damn, p***y, and d**k – each with a 20-minute episode. From origins that span thousands of years to meanings that have changed over time, the show – narrated by Nic Cage – seeks to understand the power of swear words (one swear word specialist claims that swearing increases our strength by 5%, which we didn’t know, to be honest), how they got their powers and how we should reclaim them. Popular comedians Sarah Silverman, Zainab Johnson, and Nikki Glaser, Parks And Recreation’s Nick Offerman, musician Open Mike Eagle and Isiah Whitlock Jr. also contribute to the cultural and personal impact of the words, with pop culture and music (especially African American) reference spread in.
With so much happening, we expected a roller coaster and shocking journey of words that are meant to shock our systems. Unfortunately, the power of swear words to leave us dumbfounded only leaves us dumber after this show. Yes, there is the fun fact that Jonah Hill, not Samuel L. Jackson has the record of highest usage of f**k in films, and the educators and language experts pointing out the origins and contextual impact of these words, but these are the only bright spots in the entire 20 minutes.
Nicolas Cage seems to be trying too hard to be funny and ending up unfunnier than ever, which we didn’t think was possible. His pronunciations and forced use of swear words make us cringe on his behalf. Honestly, Samuel L. Jackson, on whose tongue swear words seem like a first language would have been a better fit for the role.
There is not enough information, which is perhaps why the 20 minutes are peppered with comedians saying s**t and f**k in different voices and laughing over it. So much more could have been done with it, yet Netflix sadly only scratched the surface of his brilliant world of swear words while promising us the world. We only hope Season 2 (if there is any) is better than this.
Image via: Netflix