Ricky Gervais is the king of morbid comedy so it was expected that he would eventually tackle the topic of death. However, the result is quite surprising.
The story of After Life season one revolves around Tony (Ricky Gervais) a man with a seemingly perfect life before his wife Lisa (Kerry Godliman) dies of breast cancer. After contemplating suicide, Tony decides to live and punish the world for his wife’s death by living a carefree lifestyle. While he feels content with wasting his life away, this goal is constantly roadblocked by the people around him who try to make him a better person and support him through this difficult time.
First and foremost, this show is a double-edged sword. It is extremely addictive and easy to binge in one sitting, but it is a very challenging topic to deal with. Gervais is known for his morbid sense of humor and not everyone is a fan of it. However, he brings much more to this series with humility and thought-provoking storytelling that truly embodies the premise and themes of this serious topic.
As someone who has dealt with loss of close family members, this series struck a chord. The characterization of Gervais’ Tony represents exactly the emotions experienced after the loss of a loved one. He questions his own existence, debates death and lashes out at those around him. At the same time, he doesn’t go overboard and alienate himself from society. Instead, he just lives a carefree lifestyle that puts himself in harm’s way because, what’s the point?
These feelings and thoughts embody the very essence of how it is to experience this sort of loss. Tony manages to go through these stages and emotions all within six episodes. It is the perfect visual representation of those feelings none of us dare to express ourselves. The story ends up being a tad formulaic to go through these stages in such a short time, but it is immensely moving nonetheless.
Beyond the touching themes and storytelling, this show has a lot of hilarious moments throughout. It uses Gervais’ typical style of humor and succeeds in bringing out the dark side of this topic. The tone may feel a bit unbalanced at times, but between the jaw-dropping comedy and tear-inducing drama, it manages to create the perfect atmosphere for this series to thrive.
This season of After Life is a touching and authentic dramedy that manages to deal with the subject of loss in a realistic way. The show’s premise and execution will not be everyone’s cup of tea given the brash comedy and the storylines are fairly predictable. Thankfully, the show is written in a heartfelt and moving way, complemented by its morbidly dark comedy and a brilliant lead performance that makes this story and its look at the grieving process feel organic every step of the way. From its strong character drama to its narcissistic humor, this season manages to be an unexpectedly moving story of bereavement.
What did you think of the first season of After Life? Let me know in the comments!
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