Ricky Gervais’ latest show is After Life, is a drama/comedy about Tony (Ricky Gervais) who falls into depression after his wife dies of cancer. Gervais delivers a well done series that is a nice watch despite its sad and depressed tone.
Combining the comedy and drama genres is always a tricky thing to do. Make it too funny and the sad moments don’t resonate. Make it too sad and the comedy feels out of place. Ricky Gervais tried to find that balance and did a decent job.
Most of the time, the viewer is immersed in Tony’s view and his activities. When he meets a sex worker and ends up having a heart to heart moment with her, it actually feels real and wholesome. Likewise, the interactions Tony has with Julian (Tim Plester) are good. The activities they undertake are very questionable, especially their final meeting, but their tragic experiences in life brought them together and it all makes sense.
Some moments in the show do feel shoehorned in however. The diary of Tony’s wife Lisa (Kerry Godliman) on her deathbed is one of them. The moments we see of Tony watching those clips feel very forced. It makes sense that he watched the last memories that he has of her, but he completely ignores her advice. In the final episode, Tony has a cathartic moment of sorts, and this is another one of those moments that feel forced. We get it, Gervais is trying to give the viewer a message, a life lesson to be learned. It is very lazy storytelling however. One of the first rules of film and television is: don’t tell us, show us.
Altogether, After Life is a decent watch. It leaves the viewer with a good feeling afterwards and has its comedic moments. We do care for Tony despite his dark and pessimistic outlook on life, but wish he wasn’t such a knob sometimes.