Ricky Gervais’s wit in the 3rd season of After Life was overwhelmed by sentimentality – a review


It’s not often that a series can win you over and then push you away so suddenly After life not The Netflix a comedy drama created, written and produced and acted by Ricky Gervais (at least he stopped recording themed songs) was one of Netflix’s less exciting success stories. In the first two seasons, Gervais, in the role of Tony, a misanthropic widower taken over by grief after the death of his wife, struck an awkward balance between comedy and pathos, ranging from cynicism to stupidity in the scene. But when it worked, it worked – and After lifeThe third season, starting today, is almost the same beast.

He appears with Tony, who is still unhappy and combative as ever, still working as a feature writer for the local newspaper Tambury. His social circle is made up of friends, co-workers and various local freaks like Matt (Tom Basden), his brother-in-law and boss Kath (Diane Morgan), his lone colleague and EmmaAccessories(Ashley Jensen), a nurse with whom Tony enjoys a persistent Platonic friendship. Tony is a curious role for Gervais as he plays it safe and stretches too much at the same time. It’s best in comic mode; as a withering, sarcastic straight man is comfortable at home. When he plays personalities closer to his own than here, he acts genuinely smart and fun. But whenever he has to offer a moment of real emotion, it’s harder to buy it.

This is a problem that is not helped by writing that is similarly inclined on the comedy-drama front. If you haven’t already agreed to Gervais ’case, that probably won’t change you – anyone looking for the usual mix of pseudo-ironic homophobia, fat phobia and sexism won’t go empty-handed – but it’s definitely better than the serious part of the script. Monologues on grief and recovery are painfully banal, painfully one-dimensional; lags behind whole syrupy foods Ted Lasso.

After life he is also weird and uninvolved in the way he juggles different threads of complication. So much time in front of the screen is dedicated to the sad comedian Brian (David Earl) and his much younger friend James (Ethan Lawrence), in a story that never once intersects with Tony’s. The series was filmed when the UK was still in jail last year; this is the only explanation I can think of as to why everything seems so divided.

After all, there are little things that appeal to you After life – among them a great soundtrack, a cast of characters who don’t all look like ordinary TV stars, an outstanding performance by Morgan and a brilliant cameo by Tim Kay. Then it all breaks down with a descent into cumbersome sentimentality. If Gervais follows his usual MO, he may get a chance to redeem the ending with the final Christmas special. I hope because there are times when After life he believes he really deserves salvation.


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