After Life is a dark comedy series about the grief that comes with the loss of a loved one to cancer. This show is a masterpiece of the small screen as it explores the stages of grief that we tend to walk alone, but now that walk of grief doesn’t seem so lonely anymore.
Ricky Gervais, a well-known comic, is the shows writer, director, and lead role; playing the part of Tony, a recent widower who lost his young wife to cancer and suffers from a depression that causes him to lose the will to live. This show comedically deals with the fact that death is inevitable and so is the grief that accompanies it. It also demonstrates the brilliance of dogs which is something I truly appreciate.
Tony, the recent widower is left without a hope in the world and no reason to go on living; the only shimmer of hope in his dark world being his beautiful dog, Brandy, who Tony must stay alive for. This dogs shimmer of hope grows as Tony slowly sees the small charms in life, such as his young nephew, the lucid moments with his father suffering from Alzheimer’s, and the sweet nurse who he befriends. This dark comedy explores the realities of grief and the beauty of life in all its complicated glory.
There are many ways of dealing with ones’ grief, but laughter truly is one of the best medicines, a theory that is proved by Gervais time and time again through his blunt delivery of comedy. Some may find it offensive to joke about the darker themes like death, but it could be argued that these are the themes that should be entwined in comedy more frequently to open the taboo conversations that people shy away from.
The grief explored in this series is realistic as Tony jumps back and forth between the 7 stages of grief, grief never being a straight line. Gervais begins this series in a depressed state as his wife leaves him video messages filmed before her death, leaving his character to miss the happiness he once experienced every day. It is not a television romance, but a real love where this couple were best friends, making the loss all the more heart-breaking. Tony grows in his journey of grief as he suffers within himself while also looking out for the people surrounding him.
This series is one that nobody can afford to miss, as unfortunately it is inevitable that we will all experience grief and the loss of a loved one. After Life is a show of healing and heartbreak, even when the healing seems impossible. It will make you laugh, cry, and leave you with a little sense of hope that life can still be worthy of living even when part of you has passed on along with your loved one.