After Life season 3 is a continuation of the grief and heartbreak that comes after the demise of Tony Johnson’s wife. How does one cope after their entire world comes crashing down? Ricky Gervais brings us a tête-à-tête guide by writing, directing, and enacting a mourning protagonist. You experience grief and loss like never before. The emotions translate well on screen in all their rawness. One rarely comes across a play so pure and unpretentious. Every character is more human than the other, a term they so unwittingly used to describe each other, “a proper loser.”
It is a path-breaking dark comedy that takes you through all five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The first two seasons dealt with the former four stages in depth where Tony’s incapacity to handle this tragedy was unleashed on anyone who crossed his path. His uncouth and unruly behaviour has been explored in detail, but this season starts on a more tender note, acceptance. This show holds a very non-judgmental space for one’s pangs of yearning. The eventual realisation is that life may never be as meaningful as it once was, but that doesn’t equate to it not being worth living.
One can’t help but wonder as to the process it must have taken for Ricky Gervais to pen this. There is an insurmountable heartache that’s palpable every time Tony is watching his wife’s old videos
“There are angels, they don’t have wings and they don’t live in clouds. They wear nurse’s uniforms and they work hard to pay the rent in their houses. If you want to be an angel, you have got to do it when you’re alive. Be good, do good things,” Tony’s endearingly wise friend, Anne, says it to him at their usual hangout spot, which happens to be a graveyard. This remains the gist of this show. It doesn’t matter how utterly devastated and grief-stricken you are, you can’t let life make you bitter. Moving on is not necessarily the only option to deal with loss. Tony had an inimitable relationship that can’t be recreated with anyone else. He tries to explore the possibility of a new romantic relationship but is unable to carry it forward. The memories he has are enough to last him a lifetime.
One can’t help but wonder as to the process it must have taken for Ricky Gervais to pen this. There is an insurmountable heartache that’s palpable every time Tony is watching his wife’s old videos. That’s all he looks forward to in his day. It does get repetitive at times, but one must remember that mourning is not a linear process. Plus each season only has six 30-minute episodes, so it really doesn’t go on forever. It has a slow-paced small-town vibe that makes you pay attention to the mundane.
This is not your average fast-paced thriller with a cliff-hanger at the end of every episode. It’s a heavy watch that takes time to grow on you.
We, the Netflix generation, do not have the patience to sit with our own grief, let alone watch someone else grieve for three seasons straight now. There are far too many distractions that win the cake when it comes to our attention. Racy themes like heists, affairs, conspiracies and murders grip us immediately without us even having to try.
But in a time characterised by disease and plague, would you not want to watch something that shows a man grieving a monumental loss? Covid brought on a wave of loss that none of us were prepared to deal with. Nothing in the world could have prepared us for this but perhaps, let this be a step in that direction?
How to deal with grief 101.