What is After Life?
When Tony, a journalist that works for a local newspaper loses his wife to breast cancer, he is overwhelmed with grief. Following her death, he cannot comprehend the world without her. He sees the world from his own bubble.
Every day his life is the same for him. Tony’s filter is removed. All of his anger is aimed at the world around him regardless of what his actions and comments may do to others. There is no holding back with language or thoughts.
Season one looks at how this plays out. It shows that the grief of losing a loved one can be insurmountable. Ricky Gervais, through his incredible acting skill, shows that the grief of losing a loved one can be life changing. He also shows how the grief of losing a loved one can consume you, it can be insurmountable. Ricky Gervais plays this role sublimely, so well that you wonder if there is a biographical element to his writing.
The season takes you on Tony`s journey. The journey does not change. Work, interviews, home and to see his Dad in the local care home. This is where the proverbial tide turns in season one. Tony is called out by his Dads nurse who tells him “You’re like a troll on Twitter. Just because you’re all upset, means everyone else has to feel upset.”
The life he is making for himself is tearing him to pieces. On a walk with his dog, he meets a widow at the local cemetery. She is there to “talk to her husband” while Tony seems to just want to see who he can annoy. A friendship begins, one that neither of them seem to realise they need.
Season Two seems to slide Tony firmly into the kind and empathetic team. He extends this to all of those who are in his life, and those that appear to be complete strangers to him. This season still shows Tony`s raw emotional grief but not as continually. He uses the grief this time to explain to others who need help, how he coped.
However, having lost his wife, he now experiences another loss. That of his Dad. Due to his change in nature and his perception of the situation Tony was able to note that he had “lost him when his disease hit” and “that it was the natural order of things.” Tony continues his on again, off again chats with his father`s nurse while finding it hard to make the distinction between whether he should, could and can move forward with her.
What does Afterlife give us?
Both seasons demonstrate grief and loss in a raw and unapologetic manner. Speaking from personal experience, there is no way to ‘soft-soap’ this subject matter. Watching a TV series that addresses grief has to hurt, has to make you laugh and has to make you cry. After Life ticks all of those boxes.
I have heard say that the acting can only be as good as the writing. Well, the writing is sublime. It is as real as it comes. All of those feelings that Ricky Gervais shows, he demonstrates them in a way that made me wonder whether there was an element of personal experience that influenced some scenes. The acting was beautifully done, and all actors worked so well with each other.
After Life reviews
It was said at the end of the series, as the reviews came in, whether we really needed a series three. I was skeptical at the beginning. I kept thinking “go out in style and quit while you’re ahead.”
You know what though….I want to see Ricky Gervais bring After Life back to life again. I know for sure; it will help a lot of people see that there can be life after a tragedy like this.