Ricky Gervais is not normally one to mince his words. In fact he has actively cultivated his
outspokenness, and upset a few people along the way. It comes as no surprise then, that his latest project on Netflix – written, produced and directed by Gervaise – sees him as a bitter widower, who lashes out at the world and decides that, being as life isn’t worth living without his wife, he can do and say whatever he damn well likes. In this dark comedy, the lead character Tony (played by Gervais), hates everyone and everything, and sleep walks through his life after the death of his wife, Lisa.
As a character, Tony is really tough to warm to. When he’s not busy calling children despicable names and being abusive to strangers, he claims that if it all gets too much he can employ his super power; suicide. But among all the vile swear words and cruel jokes about ending your own life, there’s a lesson to be learnt. In times of great pain, we are never truly alone, and those in pain are often incredible actors who hide their torment really well.
For those wanting to indulge in another Gervais adventure, don’t expect anything as sweet and lovable as Derek, or as ‘cringingly funny’ as The Office. This show resembles a kind of emotional pendulum, swinging between viciously cutting and endearingly earnest; the best part for me was when the nurse who is caring for Tony’s ill father, confronts Tony on his behaviour. First she explains that she thought he was unnecessarily rude because he was having a bad day, but then she realises that maybe it was because he was just a ‘see you next Tuesday’.
Viewers who are not truly comfortable with ‘cringeworthy’ tv may not be able to wait for Tony’s corner turning moment, but nevertheless it does arrive. A fellow widower tells him that there’s no point in making others as unhappy as we are and so his view changes; but only for those who are disadvantaged or walk on four legs.To reach this turning point Tony has disturbed people’s lives, but the characters he connects with create some magic tv moments. Soft and soppy it is not, but if you can sit through the sharp, cutting edges, you’ll be rewarded with quite possibly Gervais’ most thought provoking creation yet.
If you haven’t had a chance to see Afterlife on Netflix, I would recommend you give it a try.While cringe comedy is not everyone’s cup of tea, the sheer emotion of the characters is sure to have you coming back for more. If you have, we’d really like to know what you think of the show and would love for you to leave us a comment or find us on social media @BreatheNewsUK on Twitter or @breathenews on Instagram.