After Life is a British dark comedy-drama web television series created, written, produced and directed by Ricky Gervais, who is also the star. It premiered on 8 March 2019 on Netflix. The second series premiered on 24 April 2020. On 6 May 2020, Netflix and Ricky Gervais reached a new multi-project deal which included the renewal of After Life for a third series. Source Wikipedia.
I started watching it recently after I heard Ricky talk about it on a Facebook Vlog with Russell Brand. I have always liked Ricky's form of humour and comedy programmes, The Idiot Abroad, The Ricky Gervais Show to name a few.
After Life follows Tony (played by Ricky), whose life is turned upside down after his wife dies from breast cancer. He contemplates suicide, but instead decides to live long enough to punish the world for his wife's death by saying and doing whatever he wants. Although he thinks of this as his "superpower", his plan is undermined when everyone around him tries to make him a better person. It is set in the fictional town of Tambury, UK, where Tony works as a journalist at the local free newspaper, the Tambury Gazette.
It is a smart series where Ricky portrays Tony, an average guy in an average job dealing with common life issues. He is dealing with heartbreak due to the love of his life dying from Breast Cancer. This in itself is very sad and immediately your seem to understand why Tony behaves the way he does in the first few shows.
The beauty about this show is that there are hidden gems of reality and truth in the underlying message. My intention here is not to be a show spolier if you have not watched it, rather it is to show highlight some of those hidden gems.
One point to note is that his wife recorded a video for him prior to her death and Tony watches snippets of it each day. Even from beyond the grave she is encouraging him to not give up and to keep on going. This gives him some strength. They also had a dog together who is still with Tony. So small things start to happen and these small things start to make a change. During his turmoil, others are trying to help him, comfort him, however, he keeps rejecting it.
The dog is hungry every day and needs fed and needs walked and needs attention - repetition - need - dependency. What happens next.. Tony needs to feed the dog, Tony takes the dog out for a walk, Tony gives care and attention to the dog. The dependency of the dog helps tony to create a small but important routine, one key routine is the getting out for a walk. Simple but effective.
Then Tony through his daily routine, of go to work, go home, drink, cry, sleep, get up, go to work, does some non-normal things. He starts talking to others he normally would not talk to. Small changes - as a result, he ends up meeting different people who he normally would not. i.e. a junkie, a prostitute (sex worker!), a spinster, a nurse, a homeless postman to name a few. These people start to have an impact on him. He starts to notice that others have their own struggles.
Their interactions are the important part because Tony starts to realise that life can become more bearable by simple actions.
- Stop being so self-centred to think that he is the only one with pain in his life.
- Asking others how are they
- Actually caring for others
- Helping Others in small ways
- Listening to others and realising what they are actually saying, wanting.
Even during his day job as a journalist for a free local newspaper in his boring town of Tambury, when he has to interview locals on their 'weird stories', he also realises that many 'normal people' are also just trying to get on with their lives, deal with their own struggles and interact with others in some meaningful way.
I myself have noticed that a lot of the time I keep worrying about my own 'problems' and 'concerns' when in fact I should look around, observe others and try to help them. Strangely in life by helping others it actually helps you as a person. Sharing is Caring (famous quote from Barney the dinosaur- you will understand if you have kids) We can start to appreciate what we have in our lives when we pause to be grateful and thankful to others in our lives.
When was the last time you said Thank You to the postman, the bin man, the local shop worker where you shop every day, the barman, the receptionist in your work, your work colleagues, your boss, your wife, your children, your mum, your dad, your extended family? When was the last time you stopped and asked them how they were doing AND actually listened with intent and genuine care?
When was the last time you did something different or out of your comfort zone?
That small step, that small difference of routine could be the start of a change in your life that you have been searching for.
What small step will you take today?