Ricky Gervais' popular comedy series has come to an end and we have some thoughts on the final season.
After three seasons and countless shocking yet hilarious jokes, comedian Ricky Gervais' popular comedy show After Life has finally come to an end. Regarded as the most-watched British comedy show of the decade, with the series reaching a whopping 100 million viewers on Netflix (as per Gervais), the show followed the widower Tony Johnson, as he grappled with continuing his life after his wife tragically died. It's a series that is personal and small in location and nature, yet it approaches all kinds of hard-hitting and difficult topics, including death, suicide, loneliness and more, and does so with Gervais' signature unwavering comedic flair, to make for a series that is equally hilarious and a little sadistic, as it is emotional and heartwarming.
After watching this final series, I'm left a little conflicted. Not only does After Life Season 3 have some of the hardest hitting scenes I've watched in a long-time, but it's offset by some storylines that have been wrapped up in what seem to be a rushed and quite uninspired manner. Looking at the positive side first, Gervais has once again handled Tony's on-screen showings incredibly well. This character seems to be the embodiment of the comedian, as he is unfiltered and uses expletives in some of the most creative methods to deliver priceless yet mostly vulgar jokes that will either leave you speechless or doubled over in laughter. Yet to humanise the character and make you emphasise with the situation he finds himself in, Gervais puts Tony in various emotionally complex scenarios, such as by visiting a children's hospice where he meets a young boy who turns Tony's view of the world upside down. All of this is to bring out the sympathetic and kind inner nature of the character.
This narrative effort can be seen in several other characters as well. Diane Morgan's Kath is given a huge amount of focus as she accepts her loneliness and struggles to work through it in a world that doesn't seem to understand what she is going through. Likewise, Ashley Jensen's Emma spends the season coming to terms with how she and Tony will never become an item, due to his unwavering love for his late wife, Lisa, and with that understanding she hits rock bottom, only to be saved by a fortunate encounter.
At the same time, there are aspects of this series that just fail to miss the mark entirely. Joe Wilkinson's Pat the postman spends all season struggling with accepting that his girlfriend Roxy is still a working prostitute, and while the nature of the storyline has potential, the fact that Roisin Conaty doesn't return to give Roxy's side of the story, means that the narrative arc is completely missing a major perspective, which causes it to lack any significant substance. And for the most part, this is how the season is split. It'll either have you thoroughly engrossed and entertained with the same brilliance that After Life built its fame on, or you'll lose interest due to the dull and inconsequential arcs that are simply there to give each character some semblance of a conclusion.
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There are even parts of the show that feel truly forced as well. Without going into details to prevent spoilers, the final scene absolutely fails to provide any form of fulfilling conclusion, despite the final episode as a whole being crammed with some of the best character development we've seen in the show's history. With this in mind, I struggle to see this third season as the best of After Life because of the inconsistency, which is so blatantly obvious in each episode.
Despite this being the case, After Life's third season is still one of the better comedic shows on Netflix to date. It isn't perfect by any sense, or even the best we've seen from Gervais. If anything, this season could've used another few minutes in the oven to really hammer out its glaring problems, because this show deserved to go out on the same high that it started out on. Still, if you can handle its incredibly crude and profane use of language, then After Life remains as a great, hilarious, emotional rollercoaster of a series, ideal for watching in its entirety in a week.