Cage is ultimately just the bait for the series, which, over the course of six 20-minute episodes, goes surprisingly deep into not only each epithet’s origins but the effects of racism and misogyny on what is or isn’t considered taboo, and what can or can’t be reclaimed. If anything, the only pity is that the series isn’t longer; the discussions are fascinating and unusually upfront, and beg a more detailed history than the brief overview can provide.
History Of Swear Words packs a lot of information into each 20 minute segment. And though the segments stray from their respective topics a bit, everyone looks like they’re having a cathartic good time talking about the biggest curse words in the English language.
Over six bite-sized episodes—each clocks in at just 20 minutes—History aims to be both enlightening and entertaining, and largely succeeds on both fronts. It pairs color commentary from a solid slate of comedians and actors with unstuffy lessons from a game gang of academics.
What’s missing here overall isn’t seriousness, but context and a little tension. The way the comics are deployed individually, too many of the same points are stated, reiterated and unchallenged. (A roundtable setup would’ve been livelier.) An extra 10 minutes per episode might’ve led to a richer examination of the issues — the words humankind creates, then stigmatizes, then weaponizes, and then tends to use over and over to less effective advantage.
It's slight and rarely as funny as it feels like it ought to be. But if your curiosity stems from the seeming oddness of the Leaving Las Vegas star serving as emcee for an overview of obscenities, that oddness is delivered in satisfying quantities.
This premise lacks the basic heft required to anchor a miniseries, instead leaving the impression of a collection of lengthy YouTube videos. ... The saving grace dispelling the aura of disposability is Cage, the sheer magnitude of his screen presence lending the whole operation a higher credibility. He’s living proof that there’s a lyrical poetry to the unsubtle art of cursing, and that that primal magic isn’t so simply conjured.
‘Swear Words’ is a joyless slog. ... You’re left wanting to crawl under a blanket in horror as funny people such as Jim Jeffries, Sarah Silverman, Nick Offerman, and Nikki Glaser drop bomb after bomb. ... If the show cut the comedians completely and just focused on Cage and these [experts], the show would have been about half as long (a good thing) and could have been a really solid little web series.