This Netflix original show came out in March 2019 and features Ricky Gervais as Tony, a man who, after the tragic loss of his wife, becomes bitter and severely depressed. The show follows Tony as he takes out his feelings of frustration and resentment on the world. He dabbles with drugs, befriends the local sex worker, and offends almost everybody that he sees. It has a star studded cast with David Bradley from Game of Thrones and Penelope Wilton from Shaun of the Dead as supporting characters.
As a comedian we are used to seeing Gervais as a satirist and he has made his living as a provocateur, calling out internet trolls and anybody else that may seem to get on his nerves. It is this style of comedy that brings the show to life and gives it that little something extra to make it a memorable watch. Though many fear that Gervais’ golden days of comedy are still behind him, I feel that the show highlights the aspects of his ability to bring out the humour in times of crisis. However I cannot say the same for his supporting cast, particularly in Roisin Conaty who portrayed the role of sex worker Daphne. Compared to the depth of Gervais’ performance, she brought a somewhat bland attempt at humour that didn’t quite capture the stylistic tone of the show.
To say that this show is a black comedy would be an understatement, it manages to turn the dark themes of the play into a funny anecdote that will have you in tears, though this show is not for the faint hearted. Many critics would argue that After Life shows great insensitivity to those struggling with mental health issues like depression and those suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as Tony exhibits symptoms of these mental health problems after the death of his wife. However if, like me, you are a fan of using humour to explore serious subjects then this is the show for you.
Overall the show is a perfect blend of comedy and seriousness that provides a beautifully honest handling of real world subject matters in an entertainingly sympathetic way. It is a realistic and hilarious dealing of life, loss, and everything that comes in between.