After a year like 2020, a series where Nicolas Cage extols the virtues of “shit” and “bitch” with the poise of Ken Burns is not nearly as odd as it would have sounded two years ago. Maybe that’s why Netflix’s new docuseries History Of Swear Words seems almost timely in all its campiness: Who couldn’t use a lighthearted 30-minute break to learn everything there is to know about the word “fuck,” especially when we’re seemingly yelling it into the void so fucking much these days?
For six 30-minute episodes, Cage enlists the help of experts and comedians as they dig into the history of some of the English language’s most maligned (by prudes, anyway) words. It’s a bit of a two-pronged effort: Special guests like Joel Kim Booster, DeRay Davis, Nick Offerman, and London Hughes will pay homage to each spicy utterance from a personal and cultural standpoint while experts Benjamin Bergen, Mireille Miller-Young, Elvis Mitchell, Melissa Mohr, and Kory Stamper will delve into their actual origins and etymology. That said, if Cage—all suited up and holding court in a 19th century-looking study—looks a little silly taking his job as esteemed host seriously in this exclusive clip below, it’s only because they’re going a step beyond the nostalgia-fueled I Love The ‘90s talking head format and dropping some serious knowledge. We can’t really fault him for injecting a bit of prestige into this informative event: As Cage says, “Swear words will only be as useful for as long as we have hearts, minds, and assholes.”
You can finally learn the in-depth History Of Swear Words when the series begins streaming Tuesday, January 5 on Netflix. In the meantime, check out the snippet below.