History of Swear Words review: Nicolas Cage saves excuse for a documentary

Rating: 2.5/5

Wolf the Wall Street and Uncut Gems have the rare distinction of being the films with the most and second-most number of expletives used, respectively. They are one of the most entertaining films of the last decade, the same can, unfortunately, not be said for History of Swear Words.


This six-part docuseries follows the history and evolution of a few popular specific curse words, one in each episode. Swearing exists in every culture around the globe. Such profanities mean different things in different contexts in different parts of the worlds and unite us all, in a strange way.

Hosted by a very appropriate host, Nicholas Cage, History of Swear Words, starts off with Cage’s monologue about the versatility of these words wherein he delivers popular film dialogues with swear words in the trademark Cage-esque fashion.

History of Swear words features a variety of standup comics like Jim Jefferies, Nikki Glazer, Open Mike Eagle, Sarah Silverman, DeRay Davis, Joel Kim Booster, actors like Nick Offerman, Isah Whitlock Jr, and experts on the subjects like Benjamin Bergin, a cognitive scientist and author, Mireille Miller-Young, a professor in feminist studies, Kory Stamper, a lexicographer and author.


Since History of swear words is a docuseries, the people are not acting and therefore cannot be judged for their performance. That being said, some people stood out more than others simply because of their personalities.

Nicholas Cage essentially carried the series by being his erratic, entertaining self. Even in this series, he continues to be an actor who defies expectations and goes a step further. Because of his diverse career, Cage was the perfect host for History of Swear Words. The series could have definitely used more of Cage.

Jim Jefferies with his impeccable delivery made even average lines hilarious. Nick Offerman, Isah Whitlock Jr were also great additions to the cast.

Unfortunately, most other people in History of Swear Words were rather average.


The subject of the series itself is rather interesting as History of Swear Words explores the subtleties of such unsubtle words. 

The varied cast usually kept the attention of the audience. The addition of comedians made the series rather enjoyable and engaging. The presence of Cage, of course, bound the whole show together, cohesively

The series is also surprisingly informative. It is well researched and benefits from the presence of experts in the fields of linguistics.

Another way the series manages to retain interest is by referencing a myriad of films, songs, TV shows and everything in popular culture. This keeps History of Swear Words fairly relevant.

The issue of censorship is one aspect that the series tackles fairly well using relevant statistics.


The series is bland keeping in mind the subject matter. History of Swear Words had the potential to be something unique but it went the traditional route. Well known faces sitting in chairs accompanied by quirky graphics and mediocre jokes while filling in the gaps with the actual history of swear words, is what the series essentially does. 

Everything, from the big empty backgrounds behind the speakers to the animation, is as forgettable and average as most YouTube videos tend to be. What is most disappointing is that the series clearly had the budget to hire well-known actors and comedians and yet failed to do something new and interesting with the same budget.

Worth It?

History of Swear Words remains true to its title and does deliver the history of these infamous words but in a mundane manner.

Despite its mediocrity, Nicholas Cage’s presence ensures that this should at least be a one time watch for anyone even mildly interested in the subject.

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