Ricky Gervais’ new Netflix series After Life came out last week. Written, directed by and starring Gervais, the 6 episode mini series sees middle-aged Tony trying to cope with the loss of his wife to cancer.
This series is deeply conflicting to me, and I can’t fully decide whether I like it or not. After his wife dies Tony decides to just become a grouchy, depressed slob who says and does whatever he wants. Similar to how Ricky Gervais is in real life judging from his twitter. I joke of course, but Gervais doesn’t seem to be playing a character, more of a dramatised version of himself. The writing is quite good apart from moments where Gervais seems to just use the show as a soapbox to preach his views in a completely nonchalant way. I don’t need to hear for the umpteenth time why Gervais is an atheist or why religious people are dumb. We get it. The nihilistic and depressive views the show espouses are clear contextual evidence of his lack of religious belief. I’m not sure whether he doesn’t believe the audience is smart enough to pick up on this or whether he thinks it makes for a genuinely good scene to have his ostensible “character” arguing with a woman about the “magic man in the sky”. Gervais is capable of far better writing, which can even be seen in the same episode so why he falters at certain points is baffling to me. Apart from these moments however, the series is actually quite good. The entire show has dark undertones, with certain characters taking tragic yet understandable paths which ultimately add to the whole morally grey aspect of the show. The performances from the cast were excellent, from Roisin Conaty’s turn as a prostitute who waxes lyrical about the intricacies of people to Tom Basden as the put upon editor of the local newspaper, the supporting cast are one of the strongest elements of this show and also one of the most enjoyable. My previous issues with Gervais aside, he is capable of great writing and the moments where Tony is forced to confront his terrible behaviour are extremely well written and touching, and the moments with Lisa before she died are also incredibly poignant.
VERDICT: Overall, I did enjoy this series and think it is one of Gervais’ better works of recent memory, but his insistence to preach at times became grating and took me out of my immersion. I would give this series a 7.5 out of 10, and at the very least it beats that David Brent film that inexplicably got made.