“Historical past of Swear Phrases” opens with Nicolas Cage, solemn as a rock, turning to the digicam and unleashing a torrent of well-known strains joined via one the most important, undeniably pleasant component: the joys of forcefully exhaling the phrase “fuck.” With the canny aggregate of intellectual and lowbrow that Cage has become a successful character all its personal, the actor rips into iconic strains starting from the fundamental (“who the fuck do you assume you’re speaking to?”) to the perversely iconic (“fuck it, we’ll do it are living”) to the mythical (“I’ve had it with those motherfuckin’ snakes in this motherfuckin’ aircraft”). It’s a brief intro, however person who however units the tone for a self-aware collection that delights in exploring previously bleeped phrases simply up to its host does in announcing them.
In principle, “Nicolas Cage hosts a Netflix display about swear phrases” feels like a wacky recreation display the set of rules spat out as an afterthought. In apply, “The Historical past of Swear Phrases” is extra tutorial and simple than that, handing over six bite-sized courses on six verboten and/or arguable phrases with the assistance of etymologists, comedians and historians. Cage, who’s made a game of revving up his inherent depth to absurdist new heights, proves a wise selection for a number. That is each as a result of he’s an enigmatic actor who’s recreation for anything else, and as the display doesn’t overplay its hand with him, retaining his contributions transient sufficient that you simply don’t depart an episode going, “alright, we get it, Nicolas Cage is a weirdo love to curse.”
Every of the six episodes offers a temporary review of the way six other phrases — fuck, shit, complain, dick, pussy, rattling — got here to be, and the way their definitions have since advanced. The stability of historians towards comedians like London Hughes and Nikki Glaser give “Historical past of Swear Phrases” a form of documentary meets “Perfect Week Ever” vibe that in reality works for the subject material. Everybody’s engaged, however nobody’s taking themselves too critically to have a laugh with it.
So the primary downside with the collection isn’t the presentation, however with how briefly it breezes via its subject material. In most cases I’m begging Netflix displays to pare themselves down, and but via the tip of “The Historical past of Swear Phrases,” I used to be left pissed off that I didn’t get deeper dives. Every episode does an admirable process dashing via all of the medieval mythology, socio-political context, popular culture reflections and extraordinary a laugh details in the back of every swear phrase. However with most effective 20 mins a pop, those chapters slightly have sufficient time to put out the fundamental details, let by myself dig in. Someone in reality within the historical past of swear phrases might in finding themselves falling down Wikipedia rabbit holes to be able to fill within the many blanks this display leaves in the back of. Someone who idly flips “Historical past of Swear Phrases” on as a result of they sought after to look Nic Cage passionately monologue concerning the magnetic energy of pussy, alternatively, must be happy.
“Historical past of Swear Phrases” premieres Tuesday, January 5 on Netflix.