After Life, series 3, review: Ricky Gervais’s grief-com has the emotional depth of a Post-It note


The third and final series of Ricky Gervais’s wildly popular grief-com After Life (Netflix) begins superbly. As ever, the episode starts with an old home video of Lisa (Kerry Godliman), who died of breast cancer before the first series began. In it, she is struggling to steer a rowing boat as husband Tony (Gervais) films her, the pair chuckling and joshing and essentially having a very lovely and loving time. The laptop snaps shut, but, for once, it is not a morose Tony watching the video, wondering how he can live without Lisa – it’s Emma (Ashley Jensen), Tony’s love interest, wondering how she can ever compare to Lisa. It is a gentle, subtle twist.

It is, by far, the high point in another trite, mawkish, soggy pudding of a series, that wallows in its own cynical slurry pit of emotion and thin-skinned misanthropy, Tony inhabiting a world in which, in his words, almost everyone is a “c–t”, except for him and his dog. It is a show that doesn’t just want to have its cake and it eat – Tony sneers at everyone, but he, and only he, can still see the essential good in them – it wants to have its cake, eat it, spit it out, rub it in your face 
and then tearfully demand you admire the baking.

The plot hasn’t really moved on (though three cast regulars – Roisin Conaty, Mandeep Dhillon and Paul Kaye – have, understandably), with Tony’s tentative relationship with angel-hearted care home nurse Emma struggling to go anywhere. Tony still works at the Tambury Gazette, interviewing local oddballs with open-mouthed incredulity. 

He still shovels red wine into his mouth while sitting on his sofa with his dog in a brave haze of self-pity. He still spends his days insulting his colleagues – Tony Way’s gentle photographer, Lenny, Tom Basden’s weedy boss, Matt, Diane Morgan’s brassy ad lady, Kath. He still ends every episode sat on a graveyard bench with Penelope Wilton’s magical widow, as she tells him how wonderful and kind and special he is. 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

1 + 7 =