REVIEW: ‘History of Swear Words,’ – A Hysterical Look at Our Most Versatile Words

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History of Swear Words

History of Swear Words is a Netflix Original comedy hosted by Nicolas Cage. Why are the most versatile, most alluring, and quite frankly, most fun words to say the ones that’ll get us in trouble if we actually use them? How did it get this way? Why are these words shunned by “civilized “ circles? There is a lot to some of these questions and many laughs to have on the way to discovering the answers.

Like Netflix’s other recent comedy-fueled history lesson, Death to 2020, History of Swear Words looks to enlighten its audience while also dishing out the laughs. Each of its six episodes takes an in depth look at the history of notable curse words fuck, shit, dick, pussy, bitch, and damn. Aiding Cage in exploring these cornerstones of the English language are actual linguistic historians and comedians alike. This blend of personalities keeps the balance of humor and learning at the perfect pitch. And while all of the episodes are thoroughly enlightening, the two standouts are easily bitch and pussy.

These two episodes stand out from the crowd due to the nature of their respective curse words. Being the two that bring with them gendered angles to their most common usages, these two go not just into their history but also their cultures. Woman’s studies experts are brought on for these episodes to talk both about how these insults came to target women, as well as the movements that have grown around reclaiming the words from their gender insulting nature.

While the production went to clear lengths to make the show properly deliver an insightful educational experience, no less effort was put into making sure there was plenty of humor to go around. The interviewees included Nick Offerman, Deray Davis, Sarah Silverman, Joel Kim Booster, and numerous others. Each interviewee brings their own personal takes on each episode’s topic word, often with gut-busting results.

While everyone who appears on History of Swear Words is clearly having a great time with the series, the standout performance must go to Cage himself. As he leans into the eccentric personality he has become famous for, he oftentimes feels akin to a living meme as he overacts lines, delivering each utterance of the episode’s topic swear word with near zealous passion. Watching this has given me the unshakable nagging worry that Cage may actually be some form of evil genius, building a doomsday device on a remote tropical island somewhere, so overly dramatic is his performance. They couldn’t have picked anyone better for the roll.

When all is said and done, History of Swear Words is the perfect blend of humor and learning. The information doled out by experts is oftentimes genuinely fascinating. Though pervasive throughout, the humor never sinks to the level of truly sophomoric, which is impressive, especially when they get to the dick episode. So much history, so many swears.

History of Swear Words is streaming now on Netflix.


History of Swear Words 
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

When all is said and done, History of Swear Words is the perfect blend of humor and learning. The information doled out by experts is oftentimes genuinely fascinating. Though pervasive throughout, the humor never sinks to the level of truly sophomoric, which is impressive, especially when they get to the dick episode. So much history, so many swears.