WHAT a sweet relief it would be if we had the bottle to tell people exactly what we thought of them. As in, to their face, not from behind the anonymity of social media. But would it make us a better person? That’s what you have to ask yourself as Tony (pictured above), Ricky Gervais’s latest alter ego, drops truth bombs on everyone he encounters in After Life.
Tony’s deal is that Lisa, his beloved wife (a moving Kerry Godliman), has died from cancer, leaving him with a collection of tear-jerking video messages to stoke his grief, a colossal sense that the world is rubbish and unfair, and a desire to get even with it. In journalist Tony’s twisted but oddly empathetic world, that means giving fools a darn good kicking — verbally, you understand — whenever he encounters them.
Gervais, creator of The Office and Extras, is a master of the verbal takedown and After Life provides him with ample opportunity to indulge his sarcastic side. But the curveball here is that, against all odds, the odd ray of sunshine peeks through.
After Life, for all its casually entertaining cruelties, is a show about moving on and keeping faith with our essential humanity. From the bleak hell of grief, Gervais has created something redemptive and beautiful.