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Two words: Ricky Gervais. He created, produced and directed this British black comedy-drama TV series. A beautiful mix of humor, poignancy and pain as we accompany Gervais’ character, Tony Johnson, on his funny, painful, bumpy journey dealing with the aftermath of his beloved wife’s death from breast cancer, as well as the possible demise of the newspaper for which he works as a human interest story journalist.
It explores some big questions: How do we reenter and exist in the world after our world has been shattered? Where do we find answers and meaning? How do we stop dwelling in an idealized past at the expense of missing out on current opportunities for love and growth? How do we learn to open up and be vulnerable again? All things occupying our minds and spirits in this challenging time.
Leavening the tone a bit, the characters are quirky but lovable and real, and the story is set in a charming English village.
In a time when death has become so much closer and more real to all of us due to the Coronavirus, After Life reinforces the value of working through depression, inertia and wallowing in a pool of nostalgia — by focusing on life.
Even focusing on the mundane. The mundane can save us, as Gervais’ dog does in this show. Made me value my life more and the people in it who are close to me. Plus, Gervais’ romance with his father’s caretaker is both enchanting and heartbreaking.
Death is easy. Living is hard. Friendship is redemptive. It’s an uplifting wake-up call to getting on with life in the face of loss.
Anyone who’s dealing with or has dealt with loss. Anyone who’s had to learn to love again. Anyone who likes to laugh and cry. Anyone you love, even if it’s just yourself; especially if it’s just yourself.
The show will be back for a third season.