The Ricky Gervais Netflix original has just aired its second season, so what’s the deal with this emotional telling of grief?
You could be forgiven for hearing that the British comedian and part time actor, known for his sarcastic commentary on this world, has written and directed a new series and you’d rather miss it, thank you very much.
But here’s why maybe, just maybe you should take a (small 12 x 30 minute episodes in total) amount of time to give it a chance.
After Life is a simple concept, how do we cope with grief? It centres around an early 50’s character named Tony that recently lost his wife to Breast Cancer. In a P.S I Love You style she left him a video telling him not to be the, how do I say this, grumpy old man (she uses a not so nice ‘C’ word i’d rather not include), that he inevitably will become.
“It will make you laugh and cry in equal measure”If you’ve lost anyone or know anyone who’s been through cancer, grab some tissues.
Does he listen? Does he fuck. She asks him to do one thing. Since Lisa departed Tony has taken the opportunity to say whatever he would like because being nice doesn’t get you anywhere. Throughout Tony talks about the want to kill himself and would have, if it weren’t for his dog. He refers to this like a superpower because if he ever went to far, he’d commit suicide and that would be that.
Once we get past the establishment that Tony is played by Ricky Gervais the show begins to let us into his life. We see his job, the regular people he meets and what he’s been not getting up to. The cast are charming and full of people you mostly recognise for one reason or another.
Its an honest as possible take that suits Ricky down to a tee. His comedy works because he explains why ‘its like a superpower‘. You excuse his behaviour, when once you may have found it not so funny or original.
The humour is consistent but not overbearing and its balanced by the emotions Ricky displays when he explains why everything is so painful. The lowest parts come when he is watching his old videos of Lisa, dealing with drugs or alcohol and seeing his Father in a care home. You’re sad for someone that used to be so happy.
“A charming slice of village life”
Tony impacts all the characters he meets and takes several steps of development in grief in season 1.In season 2 he realises its too far and dials back to his comfort zone but is less of a dick to everyone around him.
I wouldn’t expect too much of the other characters or development. They’re likable and we get to know them slightly but not attached. This can be frustrating as throughout season 2 Tony does get ever so slightly tiresome (we get it you’re Ricky Gervais and Tony is sad).
Just as you start to feel this way you’re reminded of why Tony is like this or the show shares another video and charms you in a sad kind of way.
Overall After Life does a very good job of letting you into one mans journey through grief and trying to move on. its a charming slice of a little village life and what loss can do to you and those around you.
It will make you cry and laugh in equal measure.
Definitely going to TV heaven out of 10.
p.s If you’re struggling with anything please, please reach out. We should all take care of ourselves and each other at all stages of our life. Some people do some great work for example Samaritans or Mind.