Unless you live under a rock, you will have scrolled passed the short video clip of Ricky Gervais walking past a primary school calling a child a ‘fat ginger c*nt’ for saying he was a paedophile. This trailer obviously got a lot of attention, made a few laughs and was shared a lot – good marketing technique by the way Ricky. There was a huge build up for the release of this TV series, called After Life, on Netflix and since its release the feedback has been nothing but incredible.
Personally, I’m not even one for TV series – not interested in Game of Thrones, haven’t watched Orange is the New Black and I gave up on Power after like three episodes. I cannot focus on the TV for long enough to commit to a series, I might watch a few episodes but it is very unlikely I will return back and finish it. It takes a really good TV series for me to see the end. I think the last series I saw from start to finale was Skins and we all know how long ago that was (still my favourite TV series to date and that will never change).
However, After Life was the first TV series i actually counted down to the release date for and watched the full first season back to back. I loved it. Nothing really prepared me for how much I would enjoy it, I knew I would get a few laughs out of it and I always appreciate Ricky Gervais’ work, but After Life is beyond amazing and powerful.
If you don’t know or haven’t seen it, the series follows a man called Tony (played by Ricky) who is currently dealing with the devastating loss of his wife to cancer. Understandably, Tony develops a strong hatred for the world and everyone around him and become suicidal after losing the one he loved – I will warn you it gets way too emotional and if you’re expecting a series that’s just gonna make you laugh, you’ll get a shock.
When watching the series, It alarmed me how much I related to this cynical, depressed character who hated everything about the world and the people in it. But the truth is, Ricky Gervais absolutely nailed the inner thoughts of a suicidal person to the point where I began questioning his mental well-being. He got it so accurate and real that it’s almost as though he’s coming from experience, the understanding he has behind depression and a suicidal mind was shocking, but that’s what made this series so amazing.
Ton’y character basically goes about his life doing and saying whatever he pleases with absolutely no apology, because he doesn’t care about his life. He calls it his ‘superpower’. He believes that not being afraid of death because you are suicidal gives you an advantage of being able to do whatever you want with your life and not care about the consequences – out of everything in the world he could have done, he chooses to do heroin and threaten a child n a playground.
That is what it feels like. When you are suicidal and don’t value your life, you aren’t afraid of anything because what could possibly be worse than death? This is why suicidal and depressed people are so reckless with their lives, they don’t care what happens to them or the consequences of their actions. This doesn’t necessarily make them bad people, in fact it is sometimes found that reckless behaviour is a way of making suicide easier in the end.
What I found so relate-able was all the angry little comments that Tony makes. You can seriously tell that Tony is basically Ricky Gervais, he’s playing himself and he’s scripted these comments straight from his own thoughts. I loved the part where he’s walking past a street charity worker student, who hassles him for money and criticises him for not giving it – Tony has a rant about how these street volunteers are paid and parading around as though they’re giving up their day to better their community for charity. This is in fact, a load of shit. A lot of these workers are paid around £10 an hour and behave as though they are charitable members of the community who should be respected at a higher level. It’s these little bits of humour that shine through the hard-hitting series that make us all laugh at what the world is really like – so fake. I love Ricky Gervais’ work because he does talk about real issues. He picks out shit people in the world such as animal-hunters and calls them out for exactly what they are: just awful, awful people.
All that being said, it’s Ton’y journey throughout the series that adds the most value to After Life – it is a series you need to watch in order and in full to understand it. From the beginning of the series, Tony wants to die and there is even a scene where he seems as though he is going to do it. His reason for not committing suicide is as simple as his dog needs fed. Every time his dog gives him a ‘look’ to say he needs his dinner, Tony decides to carry on. This is such a powerful representation of the signs and values that keep depressed and suicide people on this planet.
When all is shit and you want to die, little things in the world like a dog needing fed is what keeps you here. As humans, we care about others and we cannot be as selfish as Tony may think he is. Although at the beginning, Tony seems careless of everyone and shows hatred for the world – no matter how hard he tries, he can’t just not care about everything. We have compassion, empathy and a conscious that keeps us on this planet, that’s what makes humans so strong and beautiful.
We all have awareness and care for people around us. Although we may want to die, there is always a reason to live. We stick around for other people or for little reasons in the world where we have a purpose like feeding the dog or being there for someone else. The series couldn’t be more accurate of the journey of depression: there’s a deterioration, a suicidal tendency and a recovery. The scene where Tony almost attempts his suicide shows the breaking point – some people will give in here and find it all too much, but Tony’s story shows just how it can get better over time. If he did end it, he wouldn’t have been able to experience how amazing a recovery could be. If he did do it, he would have given up. If he did do it, there would be people left behind that were effected (like his dog).
There is nothing more fulfilling to watch that a series that reflects your own struggles. I’m sure plenty of people related to Tony’s character – whether it’s the part he’s calling children fat and ginger or the part he contemplates suicide. For someone to relate to the dark areas of Tony’s journey and then see an example of his it can get better, is so encouraging and inspiring. I’m not sure Ricky Gervais will ever be able to realise how many lives he could potentially save with this series.
We need more things like this. There’s so many documentaries on suicide, yet all they do is follow someone’s story to suicide. We never ever see anything televised where things get better. We are only bothered when people have died and finally done it – why? Suicide makes headlines, but depression and recovery does not and we wonder why so many people lose hope and find death as the only option. We need more success stories about the people who don’t give in and find happiness, because they offer a tremendous amount of support than we could get from any medication or CBT.
I’d recommend anyone to watch After Life, depressed or happy. It opens your eyes to the inside mind of someone who doesn’t want to be on this earth. There’s a reason why someone is antisocial or grumpy or angry at the world. Everyone is fighting their own battle and every human on this planet has their own story behind their bitterness, which is why it is so important to be kind and compassionate. If anything, it’ll remind you of the little things in life that make it worth carrying on. It’ll make you feel less alone in your struggles and inform you that it can get better.