The series follows the life of Tony, whose perfect life turns upside down after his wife Lisa dies from cancer. Tony’s devastation leads him to contemplate suicide because he believes that his life is meaningless without Lisa. However, he eventually decides to live long enough to punish the world for Lisa’s death by being a jerk to everyone around him and doing whatever he wants. Although he thinks of this as his “superpower” but his plan is soon foiled by the bunch of adorable oddballs surrounding him, who in spite of their own struggles are trying to make Tony look at the positive side of his life and the world. What starts as a story of a despicable human being slowly turns into a wholesome exploration of grief and emotions.
Cast & Crew
The show has been created, written and directed by Ricky Gervais, who also plays the role of the show’s protagonist- Tony. The show serves as a reminder that what a powerhouse of a talent Ricky has always been and how his work will never disappoint you. The show is so well written that every scene feels like a reflection of a personal moment.
Even though the protagonist of the show is Ricky Gervais, it is the ensemble of an immensely talented supporting cast that draws you towards the show. The show features some of the best British actors in the business, and each of them have portrayed their characters so earnestly that you feel for them right from the beginning. One of my favourite characters throughout the series has been Anne, portrayed by the lovely Penelope Wilton, who is so wise, warm and pragmatic. While most of the characters in the show are extremely likeable, the one character that will put you off has to be Tony’s psychiatrist portrayed by Paul Kaye, who has done a great job at making this character so despicable and annoying.
“I’d rather be nowhere with her than somewhere without her.”
The series starts with Tony living in a completely zombie-like state and spending his days watching videos of his wife Lisa, who he believed to be his soulmate. And over the course of the two seasons it does feel that maybe Lisa was his soulmate because even though we know about Lisa mostly through her videos, she feels like a ray of sunshine in everyone’s life and it is quite obvious that losing a person like that would destroy you. Tony is an outright ‘cunt’ to almost everyone he meets or encounters and it does seem justified because let’s face it we’ve all had moments in our life where we don’t want to be nice and polite just because it is expected from us as human beings. But it is right towards the beginning itself when you realize that everyone around Tony is genuinely nice and trying to empathise with Tony in spite of their own issues. The supporting characters are the life of this show because everyone is equally quirky and weird in their own way but are also extremely authentic and sincere about their emotions and maybe that is why somewhere along the series Tony starts to skeptically accept his life without Lisa because his interactions with these people bring a certain sense of purpose for his being and a rare smile to his face. What also helps is that everyone around Tony is from a different background with very different personalities, who have their own versions and philosophies about love, life and death which are deep, nonsensical and sometimes really hilarious. Each character has a little story of their own in this fictional town called Tambury and the simplicity of their character graphs works as the charm of the show. I feel that the show is extremely well written because it never really pushes on the idea of coping with death by being excessively optimistic or positive and shows that we all have our own ways of dealing with grief. And I think it helps that the show has a lot of cute, amusing and heartwarming moments to contrast them with all the serious and dark bits about suicide and death. I know that the true meaning of ‘After Life’ relates to death but in terms of the show I felt that Lisa was Tony’s life, so if you really look at it from another perspective the title refers to Tony’s life after Lisa, the love of his life and the reason for his existence. The show is a series of therapy sessions for your mind and soul that leaves you with the message of being hopeful and pursuing kindness because you never know how your little and random act of kindness can make someone’s day because no one really has it easy.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.