Ricky Gervais isn't always associated with emotional drama or heartfelt stories of life. He's mostly centered in the outrageous comedy arena of dry humor and laugh-out-loud jokes in his stand-up routines, The Office, and Extras. In 2019, Gervais created a series for Netflix called After Life that navigated the sorrow and dark humor of a man coping with life after the loss of a loved one. Now in its third and final season for Netflix, Gervais has beautifully concluded his poignant production with an uplifting, yet heart-rending finale that will no doubt guide and help those suffering the pain of loss and that of grieving over a loved one with all the depression that comes with that. After Life Season Three is a home run. Highly Recommended!
After Life is set in the fictional town of Tambury, a small rural town in England, similar to that of Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls sans the super-rich citizens. Gervais plays Tony Johnson who is a writer and reporter for the local paper. His wife Lisa (Kerri Godliman) passed away from cancer a year prior, which has utterly and devastatingly wrecked Tony to the point of severe depression and contemplating suicide. In the first two seasons, Tony sets out to punish those around him with his off-kilter humor, but his neighbors and new friends continue to make sure that Tony knows what a good guy he is and that everything will eventually be ok
In this final third season, his relationships are rounded out and his transformation comes complete by the end in an emotional journey that is somewhat similar to the saddest episode of Futurama. Throughout the previous twelve episodes of the show, Tony delivers darkly funny truths about his friends and co-workers, but he comes across as brash and rude most of the time, where there are only glimmers of a beautiful soul who wants to keep his hope alive. Every once in a while, Tony does something for somebody else and it gives him a reason to live, whether it be compliments to his office or playing with his beautiful dog. This season though, Tony has a plutonic partner with Emma (Ashley Jensen), who saved him at the end of last season. And throughout this third and final go-around, Tony is more open to hope and love, where everything culminates into his transformation into living for others once he has a discussion inside a children's hospital.
Side-stories play out nicely as well, such as his boss and brother-in-law Matt somehow manages to get through to Tony and fix his marriage, Lenny the photographer giving some sage advice that Tony takes notice of, Kath having a string of dates that go poorly, and of course, the new intern who is looking for a new place to live where Tony is more pleasant than normal to help out. There are newly forged relationships with the postman, Anne (Tony's graveyard friend), and the Brian and James relationship that has the two oddballs moving in together. This makes for some excellent comedy and sentimental moments, but the spotlight is still on Tony as Gervais' tone for this third season is more encouraging.
It's extremely sad to see After Life come to an end, but its journey is one to cherish. There is no other show about life and death that gets it this right other than maybe Six Feet Under. But with After Life, everything seems more accessible and realistic. These characters and their setting are very intimate and over time, everyone will root for each character and fall in love with them. Gervais nailed the emotional levels of grieving during this show and it pays off in this third season with some excellent and heart-felt monologues about what happens after someone passes away and the different beliefs of what is to come in the after life. It's truly satisfying, funny, and wonderfully sad all at the same time. After Life should be the ultimate "documentary" on how to grieve and will no doubt help those who are struggling. What a gem of a Netflix show. Highly Recommended!