Ricky Gervais answered my questions when I wrote a review of Derek so I’ve been eager to share my own thoughts on the Netflix series Afterlife.
I’ll be careful not to include spoilers however, if you’ve not yet seen it, you may want to stop here. The short review is, watch it, you’ll never see anything else like it, and it may just change your view of life, and death.
Life is Simpler with Ricky Gervais
I always look forward to anything produced by Ricky, whether it’s his stand up or a comedy series or even a tweet. He brings a breath of fresh air with every word, clearing out the clutter and the noise and making life seem simple. The message I always get is, don’t be a knob. It’s that easy.
Anything Goes in Afterlife
Afterlife harnesses his philosophy of, “anything goes” in comedy. I do secretly feel that he is holding back a little more than he used to with his scripts, however for the most part, his characters don’t conform to the PC culture, and neither should they. They’re characters. People in real life don’t conform to the PC culture in live conversations, so it would be a shame if the only entertainment we escaped into became unrelatable and generic.
That’s what’s so profound about Afterlife, as it’s not policed, it is relatable, and it may be one of the only shows that is now. Every character has a trait we see in friends, family, our postman, our dates.
Misery is a Joy
He also embraces misery which is a joy. So many of us feel as if we’ve always got to put on a brave face, we’ve always got to be positive, happy, bouncy, full of life, yet some characters in Afterlife are, understandably, sad or wanting to be left alone. This doesn’t mean they’re not nice to others, it doesn’t mean they’re a apian to be around, if anything, it shows that by being honest about the way you feel, others can empathise, you can bring out the best in others and maybe, inadvertently, give others a break from their own troubles as they help you to navigate life.
The old meme featuring Eeyore springs to mind here, which says, “Eeyore is constantly depressed, yet his friends don’t leave him behind, they take him with them.”
In short, it shows that it’s ok to be sad, it’s ok to need space and if others are offended by that, that’s their cross to bear, not yours. It also shows that true friends will always be there, no matter if you’re the life and soul of the party or would rather sit in a corner before going home early.
A Talented Team Awaits
Alongside Ricky’s impeccable acting and storytelling is a talented team of actors who embrace the complex characters they play with aplomb. (I’ve always wanted to use that word!) They understand the different nuances of the intricate personalities and transport you to another world, where you forget they’re acting and are thoroughly entertained from the opening credits to the fade of the Next Episode words. That’s why it’s such a shame it has come to an end, as few series take you through such a range of emotions, from tears in the eyes to full on belly laughs, while wrapping you up in a fluffy blanket and feeding you warm sweet tea.
Afterlife is a triumph, to take grief and to add comedy while still retaining the integrity, respect, and emotion is jaw dropping. A magnificent masterpiece that celebrates real life and death with gusto, opening conversations about mental health by being unapologetic and genuine. It’s just real.
Watch it, cunt!