I’ve been a big fan of Ricky Gervais for a number of years. Everything from his stand up to his TV shows The Office and Extras. So it’s hardly a surprise that I adored After Life.
I fully expected to binge the final series of his latest show but life got in the way. However, I have now seen it all and had enough time for it to sink in. Naturally I’ve decided to write a blog post about why I loved it and how it resonated with me.
This blog post does contain spoilers for the show so do proceed with caution.
Ricky Gervais just gets people
Part of Gervais’ genius which I think makes his shows so good is the characters. With every show that I watch I’m constantly telling myself ‘I know someone like that’. After Life is no different.
This can be in a good way as well as a bad one. His friendly boss and brother-in-law, the wise lady on the bench in the cemetery and his caring work colleague who is happy with everything he has to name a few.
The beauty of Gervais’ shows is the characters make the themes relatable to us all, even if the storyline is far from it. For example, I’ve never worked in the office of a paper company in my life, yet I know plenty of David Brents and Gareth Keenans.
One of the main themes of After Life is interactions and relationships with other people. Throughout my life I’ve come across some truly amazing and wonderful people. Conversely I’ve come across some who just aren’t worth my time due to their behaviour and treatment of others, myself included.
The theme works so well because they show how we don’t know what other people are going through. It’s something we’re constantly reading on social media campaigns but some people are still blind to it. For example, in the show we’re shown that Diane Morgan’s character is the way she is because she’s lonely. While in real life I feel people wouldn’t see that and would have other ideas.
There are, however, some people who are nasty pieces of work for no other reason than they are just an awful person. And yes, Gervais has those characters covered in After Life as well.
“There’s no such thing as bad dogs, only bad owners”
Those who know me personally will be well aware that I am a dog lover. From when I was born in 1994 right up until I moved out in 2018 there was always a dog in the house.
During the various lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, before the days where marathon training took over my life, my daily exercise was a walk in the park. I’d always aim to get my walk in before I started work. Mainly so that I got some fresh air in my lungs before parking them behind a desk for eight hours.
While we all lived lives separated from friends and family with one simple instruction – stay at home – the only people I saw were dog owners. And it was the same dog owners every day. People filled their lives with that routine, I know I did.
It wasn’t long before I knew all these dog’s names, and they seemed to recognise me too. I guess part of that is down to being good with dogs, I’m not so sure. What I am sure about is the whole thing made the strict lockdowns that little bit easier for someone who lives by themselves. During that time nothing made me happier than seeing a dog running around.
One of the things I love about dogs, and this is both shown and mentioned throughout the show, is how they can sense when you’re sad. My depression was severe in my late teens/early 20s. During times of need while I was hiding my feelings from anyone and everyone, my mum’s dog Poppy was there.
She turned 14 two weeks ago. I can genuinely remember the day mum and I went to Royal Tunbridge Wells to pick her up back in 2008 as if it was last week. I struggle to remember my life before she was here. It feels like she’s been around through all the big moments in my life so far. Everyone who loves dogs loves Poppy, she’s a beautiful animal and my best friend.
The ending (Spoilers)
I’m a man who rarely cries at things I see on TV. That’s not to say I don’t feel emotion when watching films such as Titanic. It’s just they never get the waterworks running. However, the final episode of After Life broke me. The only other piece of television that had me in tears like this was series two of After Life.
Although there’s a lot of the finale that had me in tears, it’s the ending I want to talk about in this post.
As Tony walks away from the Tambury Fair, he seems to have finally found happiness in the happiness of those around him. He thinks of his wife Lisa – but for the first time in the show remembering her appears to make him feel better, not worse.
Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now’ (A song most will associate with Love Actually) plays and Tony and his dog walk off into the distance. Lisa appears and grabs Tony’s hand. The reunion is all too brief as she quickly fades away. Soon after the dog too disappears. Before you know it Tony fades away and there’s no one left. The leaves have turned brown, changing with the seasons as they do every year.
My take on that is pets will die, as will their owners. That’s existing. But life goes on. The seasons will continue to change long after we’re gone, as they always have. All we can do is make the most of our short time on Earth while we’re here. How do we do that? By being nice to one another.
It’s public knowledge that Ricky Gervais is an atheist. While I’m not particularly religious myself, I wouldn’t go as far as calling myself an atheist.
My stance on that subject is when we’re dead, we’re dead, so I’m not going to waste my life worrying about it. Which is why I do the things I do with my life. It’s why I live where I live, do the exercise I do and am friends with the people I’m friends with.
Conversely it’s why I’ve quite jobs i’ve disliked, given up bad habits and don’t surround myself with people who can only make themselves burn brighter by blowing my candle out. Life is too short to deal with anything like that.
To finish off I just want to say thank you to Ricky Gervais for bringing After Life into the world. It’s a truly wonderful show and I can’t recommend it enough.
It has the power to have you laughing out loud to crying due to sadness within a matter of seconds. It’s full of quotes that really make you think and it genuinely changed my outlook on life a little, it certainly made me realise things that were perhaps always there.
Thank you Ricky Gervais.
My most read posts of 2021 (click to read)
Why I swiped left on online dating and deleted Tinder for good
I tried the Wim Hof method for a month
Five weeks of therapy
Mental breakdown anniversary: seven years of self-esteem building
My relationship with alcohol over the last ten years