Pros: Black British humor; Ricky Gervais’ signature style; great supporting actors Cons: The last episode falls out of the series After Life / “Life after death”
Genre black comedy
Creator Ricky Gervais
Starring Ricky Gervais (Tony), Tom Bazden (Mat), Tony Way (Lenny), Mandip Dhillon (Sandy), Ashley Jensen (Emma), David Bradley (Tony’s father), Carrie Godliman (Lisa), etc.
Year of release 2019
If you don’t know who Ricky Gervais is (seven BAFTAs, four British Comedy Awards, two Emmy Awards and three Golden Globes), then I have just one title for you – The Office. The original British series ran for only two seasons (12 episodes plus two Christmas specials), but the show was broadcast in 80 countries and was adapted in the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Brazil, Chile, Israel and Sweden. The American version of The Office lasted 201 episodes over 9 seasons. However, not only “The Office”, Ricky Gervais is a successful stand-up comedian, actor, voice actor, director, producer, writer, musician and public figure. In a word, a multifaceted personality. After Life is in many ways a typical Gervais series, in which, under a layer of classic British humor, there is an attempt to talk about very serious topics.
Tony, a journalist for a free newspaper in a small British town, is having a hard time with the death of his wife. The man, who loved bad jokes and enjoyed his ordinary life, becomes gloomy, constantly thinks about suicide, and stops taking care of himself and his home. But suddenly he realizes that his reluctance to live is something of a superpower. He can afford literally anything. He can drop the mask of good nature and begin to tell people the truth, no matter how unpleasant it may be. Tony becomes angry, caustic and very difficult to communicate with. Yes, everything he says is true, but in polite society this is not accepted.
After Life is a dark comedy, so Ricky Gervais as Tony can afford to make very sharp jokes about quite painful topics. For example, ridicule the excessive tolerance of modern Western society. Make jokes about old people, drug addicts and prostitutes. Discuss the death of the modern press and the uselessness of psychoanalysts. The narrow-mindedness, hypocrisy and pretense of the majority of the population. Black comedy is also a kind of superpower, allowing writers to do almost anything they want. However, in After Life there was also a place for Gervase’s traditional themes – the triviality of human behavior, the inability to behave in society, disappointment in life.
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After Life has amazing supporting characters. Starting from the cheeky postman Pat and the woman in the cemetery Anne (actress Penelope Wilton, who played this role, is clearly destined for the role of Theresa May in a film about Brexit, if one is made), ending with the friendly, sorry… sex worker Daphne and the clueless psychoanalyst Tony. And the best role of the series goes to David Bradley (Argus Filch in Harry Potter and Lord Walder “Blood Wedding” Frey in Game of Thrones), who played Tony’s father, who has fallen into dementia. Yes, and also a dog, how can you forget about the dog.
Over the course of five episodes, Tony misses his wife, thinks about suicide and behaves like a complete bastard. And it’s really funny. Unfortunately, the authors decided that it was impossible to end a series about a suicide who hates the entire world around him on such a note and decided to help Tony find at least something in this life that is still worth living for. Alas, the last episode drops out of the series completely. She is too banal, too sweet, too correct. If you can stop without finishing the series, then in the case of After Life we recommend watching only five episodes out of six. Believe me, it’s better this way.
Such an ending to the series does not seem to imply a continuation, and in general, Ricky Gervais, in British tradition, rarely films more than two short seasons of his shows. It is still unknown whether After Life will have a second season. If so, then it’s completely unclear how, after such a sixth episode, the authors plan to return to the mood of the first five, which actually makes up the lion’s share of the series’ charm.
After Life is a good, funny and relevant British series, which, unfortunately, is spoiled by an overly banal ending.
An excellent black comedy that touches on very difficult topics.