Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

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"I look at my them like found objects of art," he says.

Viewers may also see similarities between Derek's best friend Hannah (Kerry Godliman), whose unwavering commitment to the residents at the home puts a damper on her personal life, and other unfussy Gervaisian heroines, such as Dawn from "The Office" or Maggie in "Extras."

"I've always tried to do strong women," he says. "I've noticed in comedy that females are props. They're either airheads being pursued by middle-aged men or they're bitches because they care about their job."

"Derek," co-produced with Britain's Channel 4, marks Gervais' first series for Netflix, following a long and fruitful partnership with HBO.

"I heard they were doing original programming, and I heard people were getting nervous about it, and so I got Ted's email," Gervais says, referring to the company's chief content officer, Ted Sarandos.

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The company's hands-off approach to development appealed to his fascistic streak as an artist. "It's like Internet freedom with network ratings," he says.

Netflix also knew that Gervais was popular with its subscribers, and it leapt at the chance to collaborate. "For me, this was something completely outside of what you'd expect to be next from Ricky. I think everybody was expecting him to do some version of what he did before, and he never wants to do that," says Sarandos.

When it comes to his own viewing habits, Gervais remains addicted to reality television, the genre that spawned "The Office."

"Do you know 'The Apprentice'? We did one, 'The Young Apprentice.' And I thought, 'Oh, I can't watch that, because I can't hate 16-year-olds,'" Gervais says. "I was wrong. I hated them immediately."

Sounds like a Ricky we know.

meredith.blake@latimes.com

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'Derek'

Where: Netflix

When: Anytime

Rating: TV-14 (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14)