Review: Ricky Gervais’s ‘After Life’

It’s fairly well known just how much I love Ricky Gervais. Not only is he hilarious, caring, intelligent and authentic, but I have always admired his contribution to humanity in general. I wrote a blog post a few years back about ‘Derek’, after being so touched by the series as well as the character specifically. I don’t know what it is about Ricky Gervais but he so accurately depicts the journey of life through his work, and it’s hilarious and devastating at the same time. I have waited for the arrival of his latest series ‘After Life’ on Netflix and have just binge watched all six episodes in one sitting. It did not disappoint.

Before the first episode started, James said to me ‘I bet you’re going to cry at this’. Five seconds in and already, I was bawling. Fast forward to the end of episode one and I’d given myself a tension headache from all the crying. I find myself once again questioning why I am like this and wishing I was more like James. James is able to rationalise and differentiate real life from fiction and, as such, not act like a hysterical, blubbering mess anytime something is remotely emotional.

But Ricky Gervais’s thoroughly accurate depiction of depression through this series is heart wrenching. There were moments that were so desperately, unbearably sad that I thought I may have to switch it off and come back to it again in another sitting. Running through all six episodes are difficult themes such as loss, drug addiction, suicide, depression, loneliness and misery.

But as always, there were moments that were so unbelievably funny, that I could not breathe for laughing. He once again fluctuates between tragedy and humour, using his impressive aptitude to strike the perfect balance. For me, it is the beauty that Ricky Gervais encapsulates so effortlessly, that is the highlight of his work. The beautiful moments which weave in and out of each episode remind us how lucky we are to be alive. Only Ricky Gervais can make me bawl like a baby, laugh until I think I might pass out and reflect for months, even years to come. His series’ are sheer brilliance, the perfect combination of poignancy and joy.

Once again, another series has exceeded expectations, showing that life is about the small things and taking one step at a time. Gratitude. The importance of friendship and helping others through impossible times, whatever way we can. The importance of showing up for others when you don’t even want to show up for yourself. The importance of keeping going, especially when you don’t think you can. The happiness that comes with making others happy. The fact that you never know what somebody is going through. The importance of being nice, and kind, always. Because kindness gives hope. And in his own words, ‘hope is everything’.

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