REVIEW: The virtual crowd wept in unison through the first half of this ever-raging pandemic when a bereaved Tony (a phenomenal Ricky Gervais), seated next to his Alzheimer’s-stricken dad, reassuring him,“Yes, I am your only, good son.” Perhaps it is these big splashes of raw human emotions in small victories of life—marvelling in the mundane—that made creator-director Ricky Gervais’ ‘After Life’, now in its third and final season, the most trusted tearjerker for those who seek to belong.
Following the tonality of its debut version, Tony is still very much fuming over reckless driving (in his tainted vision) and noisy crowd, and people who qualify as “generally stupid” in his anger-filled mind. Only this time, he is finer, a tad bit polished, around the edges. Tony, in his nihilistic ways, has learnt to embrace the warmth of life in all its shades. And—hate to break it to you—that’s where the script goes downhill.
Gervais’ insult comedy has grown on its dedicated fan base so much so that the star comedian falls flat on his face while preaching a thing or two about life and its brutality. However, the magnitude of his comedic genius find outlets in iconic lines, such as, “… I stopped w*nking men when Coronavirus came along. I preferred the AIDS,” and even something as basic as, “I don’t even have a boyfriend and I am f*cking easy.” Unable to comprehend the creative thought process behind it, but Gervais takes his chance with overbearing sentimentality and brings about his own downfall.
Be it on stage or behind a phone screen, we love to love him when he is hating the world, not the other way round.
With only six episodes packed in for the goodbye instalment, the creator keeps it taut and only devotes longer bits to crowd-favourite characters: the graveyard pal, Lisa’s videos, his friendship with Lenny (Tony Way) and the adorable banter with Matt (Tom Basden). Except for Colleen, another pragmatic pessimist, no new characters stick.
‘After Life’ brushes its shoulder against the hot topics of pandemic and racism, but swiftly pivots to more moving, meaningful themes to ensure its, still, playing by its strengths.
Talking about profound junctures, Tony’s recorded conversation about scattering his dad’s (David Bradley) ashes inside of a certain restaurant, under the Queen’s portrait, is a heartwarming scene in the series. Likewise, his video diary comprising Lisa (an effortless Kerry Godliman) reminds one of the few reasons that made this series our comfort show to turn to.
‘After Life’ is a dirty, angry humanist comedy, and has a pessimistic overtone about faceless, ordinary people that cling to one another out of desperation and not love. But, deep down, on some humane level, it resonates because of just how on-your-face certain sequences are.
If only Ricky Gervais had chosen to hurl abuses and hurt in private and not peace out and preach. Tsk! Tsk!