Article by Mattie Lefevre
Admittedly, I didn’t have extremely high expectations of After Life when it popped up on Netflix. I liked Ricky Gervais in Extras and The Office, but I was sceptical as to how he would transfer his talent into something more serious. However, one episode in, I was thrilled to see that my expectations were proven wrong. Gervais writes the piece and stars as the main character Tony, who struggles to find anything to be happy about in a world without his wife Lisa. His usual sarcastic humour is excellently incorporated into the character of Tony as he adopts his nonchalant ‘devil-may-care’ attitude to life.
The script is well written with moments of lightness, laughter, and epic comic timing cleverly accompanying the heavier subject of overcoming grief. The characters are complex, beautifully written and the actors playing them are highly skilled and use an impressive amount of detail to make them believable. This allows for a complete investment into the story and a real sense of care over each character and what happens to them. Tony works at the local newspaper and writes an array of weird and wonderful stories about locals who would do or say anything to get their face on the front page. He is cynical about them to start off with and finds printing their stories pointless but realises the importance of them after pursuing his new positive perspective on life. The newspaper acts almost as a simile to life in that when you’ve read through the disheartening stories on how the world is falling apart, there will always be an uplifting piece about a boy who can play the recorder with his nose to make you smile – so long as you have something to smile about you know you are going to be okay in the end!
As the story unravels so does each character and discovering the part that each of them has played in helping Tony out of his really dark times is moving to watch. Each of them has their own experience of hardship in some aspect of their life which you wouldn’t be able to tell at first glance. In these moments After Life perfectly captures the resilience of the human spirit and the power of relationships to see you through difficult times whether it’s with your dog or your postman. It gives an important message that we all have to look out for each other as you never know what someone is going through.
The highlight for me is the honesty of the whole series. There is no sugar coating over how losing a loved one completely changes a person’s life and it is refreshing to see an honest and human reaction to loss. A reaction that can be so hard to encapsulate within drama and is something that I have seen written and acted badly so many times. The scenes where Tony remembers happy times with Lisa are heart-breaking so be prepared to suddenly find yourself sobbing into your cup of tea whilst you are watching! I would highly recommend watching After Life as soon as you can and when you’re finished, tell your friends to watch it too!