After Life Season 2 serves up a second helping of genuine Gervais
Oh, Ricky – you’re supposed to make me laugh, not cry. Big fat ugly tears. That’s not something you expect from a Ricky Gervais series, but there it is – some surprisingly poignant moments in the story of Tony Johnson (Gervais).
The Mirror ponders whether a second season is necessary, given that at the end of Season 1, Tony seemed to have dragged himself out of his suicidal misery following the death of his wife, Lisa, from cancer.
“If you watched the first run of Netflix series After Life then you probably found the final episode to be fairly conclusory,” writes Lewis Knight.
He is not wrong.
One does have to wonder where to from there; Tony had mended the burned bridges with his colleagues and family, and had even taken the plunge and asked Emma the nurse (Ashley Jensen) out on a date. Thing is, we really can’t get enough of Gervais, so even if this second outing is reaching a bit too far, it’s still Gervais.
The other thing is, Gervais is at his best when he’s being a no-holds-barred rude (fill in the body part of your choice here); that is what we fans want from him, and the characters he plays in the series he writes his brilliant multi-award-winning self (the original The Office, and Extras – two of the most cringe-worthy shows that make you laugh guiltily).
So it was imperative that Tony revert to type instead of being emotionally healed, skipping down the road with rainbows and unicorns. Gervais has done this, but there are still those mushy bits to look out for, as he reminisces about all the happy times with Lisa (Kerry Godliman) via videos on his laptop (completely unnatural – nobody has home/phone videos like that – but we get the point).
“There are some seriously heartbreaking moments in this series, and they’re all pretty inevitable throughout the six new episodes, even if you hope they never get there,” writes Tilly Pearce for Metro UK, who also offers her thought-provoking psychological insight at the end of the article.
Before you think Gervais has gone completely off his comedic rails, After Life is still predominantly his very special brand of humour. If you’re easily offended, and prefer squeaky clean language, well, this is not for you. Move swiftly along, please.
There are hilarious interactions with postman Pat (Joe Wilkinson, and if you don’t get the joke, click here), who is on the path to a little romance, bless; and the graveyard scenes with Anne (Downton Abbey’s Penelope Wilton) give Tony much needed clarity on many of his issues.
At the Tambury Gazette, there is more awkwardness with an office crush and the introduction of a new character, the porky, socially inadequate son of Lenny’s (Tony Way) girlfriend. He, along with the creepy Brian (David Earl), are my least favourite players. Pushing the uncomfortably weird boat out, Tony and Lenny go out on some outrageous stories for the paper, for some giggles with deliberate shock factors.
Like after you’ve drunk Champagne, and no other beverage is quite going to do the trick, six episodes leaves you hankering for more Gervais. Real Gervais. So follow this with his stand-up show, Humanity, also on Netflix. It’s superb, and there are even little hints in there that you’ll recognise in After Life (it predates the series).
As vulgar and irreverent as some might consider Gervais, he’s a genuinely good guy who wins points for telling things like they are, and for being a fierce advocate for animal rights.