Netflix’s History Of Swear Words is a funny and educational look at the etymology of different swear words, how they came to be swear words and how they are used in conversation. Each of its six episodes focuses on a single word.
The series is hosted by Oscar winner, direct-to-DVD icon and American National Treasure, Nicolas Cage. Let’s get one thing straight: listening to Cage yell “fuck” at the top of his lungs isn’t the only reason to watch this series, but it’s definitely a big one. As the host, the actor presides over everything with a (mostly) straight-faced, almost academic demeanour and it’s just delightful.
Each word that the show covers in its episodes has centuries of history behind it. The show takes viewers on a hilarious walk through this history and the word’s various uses along with linguistic experts and comedians. You actually learn that cursing is hilarious and actually pretty healthy. People often say that the use of these words indicates a lack of vocabulary and that one should learn to express oneself without them. For us, the biggest takeaway from the show was the perspective that swear words can be used very creatively and most definitely add a little something extra to English language.
The series has interviews with comedians and actors like Jim Jefferies, London Hughes, Nick Offerman, Sarah Silverman and more. They’re often demonstrating the usefulness of a particular swear word. For example, how “fuck” can be used as an insult as in “Fuck you!” or to express elation: “Fuck, yeah!”. While these celebrities are great, seeing the PhDs and linguistic experts academically discussing the words with an underlying mischievous joy is a lot of fun as well.
The episode entitled ‘S**t’ features actor Isiah Whitlock Jr., known for playing Senator Clay Davis on The Wire and for this: