— by Jeff Schultz

Brilliant, hysterical — and at times, almost impossible not to look away. Ricky Gervais’ alter ego has never been more cringeworthy as he attempts to fulfill his dream of being a rock star by taking leave from work to go on a self-financed tour that any idiot can see is going to be a bust. But then, David Brent isn’t just “any idiot” — he’s a socially clueless, pathetically needy twit underneath whose aggressively awful attempts to ingratiate himself lies a lost little boy with no friends and less self-awareness than an ashtray. Indeed, it’s the taste of ashes you may experience watching David digging himself in ever-deeper when placing an order with a black waitress, or revealing his ignorance of soccer while drinking with his bandmates (who only agree to a drink if he pays them), or “explaining” his awful songs from the stage about the plight of Native Americans and the mentally disabled. The Netflix special ends on two welcome notes of near-redemption — and the hope that this will not be the last we see of David.

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