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AFTER LIFE gets 7.5/10 Ricky’s wickedly unconventional return


Season 1 episodes 1 – 3

Created by Ricky Gervais
Starring Ricky Gervais, Tony Way, Mandeep Dhillon

7.5/10

From British comedy classic The Office to the Golden Globe Awards, Ricky Gervais never fails to churn stomachs, offend snowflakes and burn bridges. His ability to brutally express his opinion with such conviction has given him a notorious reputation. Even Johnny Depp himself has had trouble dealing with being somewhat offended by Ricky’s jokes, as shown by his opening monologue at the 2011 Golden Globe Awards. Although controversial, Gervais has yet again managed to catapult his unique style of comedy to the next level. After Life takes you on a brutally morbid journey through the multi-faceted and twisted persona of Tony (Ricky Gervais) after the tragic loss of his wife, Lisa (Kerry Godliman) to cancer. This tale of emotional pain and suffering rarely fails to give the viewer a refreshing comedic taste of the illusive artform we know as black comedy.

Relentless, masterfully dark and superficially infallible, Tony is a rare example of a lead character who can evoke the viewer to laugh hysterically at his morbid and sad infatuation with being an utter prick, while also making the viewer feel devastatingly dreadful for his unfortunate circumstance. Over the course of the opening three episodes, Matt (Tom Basden) is introduced as the lead editor for the local gazette, but we shortly learn he is also Lisa’s brother (making Tony his brother in law). The relationship between these two seems at first, forced, however as time progresses, the script allows the viewer to observe the inherent nature of Matt as a weak, failing authoritarian adopt a more loving and nurturing personality. Alongside Matt, Tony also works with Lenny (Tony Way), Kath (Diane Morgan) as well as the newest member of the team, Sandy, played by Mandeep Dhillon. Naturally but somewhat uncomfortably, the team becomes accustomed to Tony’s new persona, but at first glance, the group appears to interact like the classically dysfunctional Addams Family.

Although comedically brutal, After Life conveys an unusually relatable theme across the board. Many of us deal with life altering events that may eventually lead to depression in different ways. However, to be pushed so far as to adopt a coping mechanism in the form of a personality change that is so dramatically pessimistic, narcissistic and unpleasant, many of us, like Tony, will most likely find a certain level of comfort in calling somebody a “fucking cunt” occasionally. Nonetheless, this form of coping mechanism does appear to assist Tony through his grieving process. He also finds temporary relief from his morbid views by occasionally talking to others who have experienced the same loss that he has. This paints a somewhat brighter picture for the progression of Ricky Gervais’ character, as it seems that deep down, Tony is desperately seeking to rid himself of these negative views.

Like most TV shows in this genre, the energy can become stagnant very quickly, so hopefully as the series progresses, we see a continuing development of all the characters. It’s obvious that Tony’s method of coping through his brutal honesty, as well as dark and pessimistic humour, ironically only complicates his emotional grievances even further. The reinforcement of this negative thought process leads to Tony searching for moral redemption and relief from emotional pain. Here, I feel, is where the true crux of the story lies, and where the ingenious comedic value of this show finds its source.

ZAC WHELAN

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