It’s no secret that I love Ricky Gervais and his partner, Jane. I love what they stand for personally and what they both create professionally. I was a late comer to The Office as I must admit the humour flew straight over my head in the beginning, maybe because my own life was marred by my very own David Brent in the office (Dave Tyrell was his name), or maybe because I’m just a little bit thick and slow on the uptake. Either way, once I realised it was a piss take I swallowed it in whole in one full on session and have enjoyed it many times since.
It’s amazing that all the work Ricky does is compared to this, when he’s done so much more, from Extras to Humanity, his stand up, David’s life on the road. One common theme I tend to find is, Ricky is rarely a father, which in Afterlife, allowed me to detach a little and enjoy the humour without images of children losing their mum clouding my vision.
In summary, it’s a triumph. You don’t want to hear about my life, but I’m going to tell you anyway. My girl had just had puppies and was refusing to feed unless I spent a few hours sat in the puppy pen with her. So on the day Afterlife was released, I sat in a large pink cage, with one dog’s head on my lap while four puppies milked her stupid. Through the bars, I watched Afterlife and I enjoyed every minute. I didn’t even get up when I got pins and needles or when the milk dribbled between my toes. I just absorbed it all, every last episode and drop.
I’ve seen it’s received some stick from those championing mental health awareness, and I find this a little mind boggling. In the series, Ricky loses his soulmate, he sees no reason for living. He fails to see the point in being nice if it rewards him with such a huge loss. For me, and I could be wrong, this isn’t a mental illness. This is the consequence of a major, devastating life event, the reaction to losing someone close, in a nutshell, it’s grief, not depression. Depression is a mental illness, where no matter how good life is, the sufferer can’t feel happy. It’s often confused with people finding it hard to cope with situations, and this is when medications are thrown at patients when really, if it’s within their control, they need to change their situation, not mask the problem with pills.
The show is about how Ricky handles his grief and it delves deep without losing its comedy edge. As a bipolar writer who is often scared of offending the masses (and then often not giving a toss if I do or not), I belly laughed at some of the jokes and then winced as I wondered about the stick Ricky would receive. I’m sure he pays mind to the PC brigade as his content seems to be tamer, but it’s refreshing to see he sticks to his values with his “up yours” persona.
A lot of old favourites played parts in Afterlife, which was akin to being wrapped in an old familiar blanket (or it could have been the warm dribbly breast milk), it was like having old friends round for dinner and whenever one popped up I celebrated a little inside.
I’m not really telling you much about the series am I? That’s because you need to watch it. Now. Make a date with yourself, arm yourself with snacks and enjoy British comedy at its finest, as you’ll laugh, you’ll probably cry and you may even rant. Whatever impact it has on you, whichever way you look at it, it will leave an impression and some life lessons will be learned, but not in a twee, romantic comedy type of way, in a “don’t be a bastard all of your life” type of way.