Worth a Watch? – Afterlife Season 1
Ricky Gervais’ magnum opus, Afterlife is a brutal, unnerving dissection on dealing with the loss of loved ones, depression, suicide, and living through the emotional rollercoaster with all that entails.
The show follows Tony (Ricky Gervais) a couple of months after his wife has passed away from breast cancer and it’s fair to say he’s taking it poorly. He’s polishing off bottles of wine every night, spending his days doing fuck all, and pretty much waiting for death to come along and claim him.
In his own words “a good day is when I don’t go around wanting to shoot random strangers in the face and then turn the gun on myself.” He’s really the definition of spiraling. His house is piled full of dirty dishes, he stumbles his way through days at work and his only saving grace is taking care of the dog.
Tony’s cantankerous funk which he refers to as his superpower begins to affect everyone around him. After contemplating taking his own life and only being saved by the dog wanting its dinner, Tony decides that he’s going to hold out and live long enough the punish the world by doing and saying whatever he likes from that point forward. That’s going to be way harder than he expects with everyone that knows his old self trying to save him from himself.
With Gervais mainly known for his turn as David Brent in the UK version of the beloved television show The Office, his performance in Afterlife will be a bit of a shock. That’s not saying it’s a bad performance, it’s a fucking great performance that absolutely makes the show in my opinion.
Gervais encapsulates the emotional rollercoaster that people experience throughout the aftermath of losing a loved one. I could totally relate to Tony’s dark outlook on the world and the feeling of just wanting to sit back and burn everything to the ground.
The rest of the cast aren’t slouches either. Every single one adds to the entire viewing experience throughout the season in their own little way, chipping away little by little at Tony’s funk in a real, human and believable way. That’s really what I’m trying to get at. The characters in the show feel more like people not just a bunch of dialogue and stage directions.
Apart from Tony and his dog, my favourite character has to be Lenny (Tony Way) the photographer for the local paper that Tony writes for. He’s the only one that doesn’t show any real emotion to Tony and his actions and just carries on with his own life, letting Tony talk through his pain. He didn’t push Tony into it, didn’t try and psychoanalyse him. Just let him open up in his own time and tell the story that he was comfortable telling in his own time.
Obviously, this series covers some incredibly dark and upsetting parts of life yet thanks to Gervais’ excellent writing and direction it never feels totally overpowering. There’s always some light banter or humorous quip to raise us back out of the sticky emotional tar most of the show coats us in for majority of the season.
Now that’s not to say that the emotions the show employs aren’t well done or don’t tug on the heart strings of the audience. I was close to tears binging this entire season in one day because the entire way through the show I felt every single bump and dip of Tony’s journey both on the road to emotional acceptance and rediscovering the joys of his life.
Overall, Afterlife is Ricky Gervais’ best work both in front and behind of the camera. It’s an emotionally intense and raw story about accepting the loss of loved ones and finding the things in life that make life worth living. Everyone should check this show out, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Have you seen the first season of Afterlife? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments down below.
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