After Life Season One Review

March 19, 2019

Warning: The following review contains plot points that some may consider to be spoilers.

Newly released on Netflix, After Life is Ricky Gervais’ latest show which currently comprises of just six short 24 minute episodes. It tells a story of Tony (Ricky Gervais), a man who has lost his wife of three decades to cancer and is struggling through the stages of grief, lashing out at everyone around him and not caring to the point of contemplating suicide. It’s Gervais at his best in yet another world that he has created where his character is the frustrating focal point that does whatever he wants, and yet we can’t look away.

An all-star cast of actors from shows like Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey and Gervais’ previous shows Extras and Derek means there are plenty of familiar faces, but it’s Tony’s dog Brandy and perhaps a local sex worker that gives him the motivation to get through his darkest moments.

Watch the official After Life Netflix trailer below:


The first season of After Life plays out with Tony watching a video that his wife Lisa (Kerry Godliman, Hannah from Derek) has left for him to watch posthumously (and perhaps post humourously, if that was a word). As he works his way through the video message he pauses to reflect, which often results in real-world situations that Tony goes through to help with his grieving. While the flow of the story is an expected narrative, it provides some unique plots as well as some interesting character relations.

Set in the fictional quiet country village of Tambury, one of the main sets is the newspaper office where Tony works, which provides viewers with a The Office feel, a place that Ricky Gervais knows only too well, except without the whole acknowledgement of the camera crew being there as this is not a pseudo-reality show. It seems Gervais wants the show to be taken more seriously than his previous work, though his dark humour is still ever present.

After Life

Characters like Tony’s Dad (David Bradley, Walder Frey from Game of Thrones), Tony’s Dad’s nurse Emma (Ashley Jensen from Extras), and widow Anne (Dame Penelope Wilton, Isobel Crawley from Downton Abbey) hold the show together when Tony is out of the office. As he tears his way through Tambury looking for a sort of quasi-retribution, people are hurt both emotionally and physically. Tony almost ends it all on several occasions, but due to just the right amount of cynicism and annoyance at everybody else in his life, he lingers on until learning that perhaps the world doesn’t hate him and that bad things can happen to good people.

At one point, Tony (or let’s just say Ricky) takes a stab at journalists, exclaiming that the profession is in tatters and turning into a haven for clickbait junk which is a fair call to an extent as we’ve seen our fair share of buzz articles, nothing pieces, and piss-in-pocket award ceremonies, but there are still many journalists out there looking to report stories accurately and not get too divulged into the world of spam. There are real stories out there that we believe the majority of readers enjoy reading and learning about, and there will always be a place for traditional journalism in the world, regardless of what makes the most money or gets the most likes and shares.

Given the length of the episodes, season one of After Life is over almost as soon as it begins, and this is definitely a key reason that we simply can’t call it Ricky Gervais’ best work. It’s unlikely that anything he creates will ever trump The Office, but that’s not to say that we don’t continue to love and enjoy everything that he touches. After Life includes many of his well-known jokes covering such topics as atheism, pedophilia, drug addiction, suicide and dying, and more.

If you’re a fan of his previous work such as Derek, then there are plenty of reasons you will enjoy in this new show. Though the laughs are a bit thin at times, many of the underlying themes are very relatable and it was nice to see Ricky trying his hand in creating another universe that essentially, as usual, revolves around his character. Though season two is yet to be confirmed, we expect After Life to become an on-going series given the star power of the cast and the genius of Gervais.