TV Review: Ricky Gervais's After Life is a truly special piece of television ★★★★★
Struggling to come to terms with his wife's death, a writer for a newspaper adopts a gruff new persona in an effort to push away those trying to help.
That’s the official synopsis for Ricky Gervais’s latest project - After Life - which is now available to stream via Netflix. It may not sound full of lols, but Ricky’s expert craftsmanship for writing ensures it delivers both laughs and tender moments throughout.
As his character Tony struggles with his grief, very early on he states I can “do and say what the f**k I want". This leads him to take his grief out on pretty much anyone, from his post-man to his colleagues - although in many instances, they deserve it (the series perfectly illustrates floors in people you will instantly relate to).
Gervais knows how to test the audience. Are we supposed to think Tony is a dick head or should we be sympathising? The answer, actually, is both. Grief is something we’re all going to face if we haven’t already done so, and the writing here expertly captures all of those mixed emotions and how they can play out.
He takes solace in his dog and as the narrative unfolds, new people enter his life who provide hope and solidarity.
The whole thing works at a beautiful pace, with much subtly and clever observations - exactly what you would expect if you’ve watched Derek, Extras, The Office…
Is it Gervais’s best work ever? It’s not his funniest - that accolade remains with The Office - but it is certainly his most skilfully written work and it is well worth a watch. It will certainly make you think. ★★★★★
All of After Life season 1 is available to stream via Netflix, now.
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