This show is NSFW
Netflix’s History of Swear Words is a new, binge-worthy show that explores the history of swearing, when and how they became known as “bad words,” and why they are just so fucking fun to use. And who better to deliver this vessel of knowledge upon us than literal national treasure Nicolas Cage sporting a pandemic-beard like only he can do?
Cage brings in language experts, and a handful of hilarious guests, like comedians Sarah Silverman and Nick Offerman, and things basically go off the rails from there. Each of the six episodes is dedicated to a single swear word including, but not limited to, “Shit,” “Damn,” and “Pussy,” looking at where it originated and how it came to find a place in our society.
Of course, this series wouldn’t be right if it didn’t start at the top of everyone’s list with a show titled simply:”Fuck.” The entire first season is only about two hours long because I guess there’s only so much you can say about one word. But that makes it just perfect enough to slide on between conference calls or while your kid is napping.
If you fancy yourself a bit of a historian but swear words offend you, this would most definitely not be the show for you. The swears are flying faster than even the drunkest of bar fights back when we went to bars, but they quickly cut to the chase and deliver on its promise of giving the 411 on the word. They also manage to reference iconic movie lines and song lyrics to keep viewers entertained throughout.
In the first two episodes, “Fuck” and “Shit,” viewers are let in on how we’ve formed relationships with swear words and how hearing them can affect us on a “primal level,” and impact our levels of adrenaline when we use them. I don’t know about you, but screaming “fuuuucccckkkkkk” into the abyss of a locked closet door or into a pillow is often the only thing that gets me through a day, especially in these pandemic times.
The experts and presenters do not mince words, especially when we get to the “Dick” and “Pussy” episodes, but they also offer some pretty great insight into gender norms and how we’ve come to use them often in a derogatory manner.
History of Swear Words is a must-watch series. It’s easy, educational, doesn’t take too much of your time, and impossible to watch without both cringing and laughing — one of my favorite emotions. Plus, something about watching Nic Cage scream “fuck!” like his life depends on it just feels right. He’s been through some things. He (we) deserve this.