Now if, like me, you’re not a Ricky Gervais fan, I want to tell you to NOT let that put you off.
But if unlike me, you’re not a fan of swearing, I can promise you this is not the show for you. I’d still say not to let this put you off.
We love a boxset in our house, but we are not binge watchers. Even GOT was restricted to an episode a night. But after one episode of this Gervais masterpiece I was hooked.
Grief in the media
It is not very often we see grief portrayed on TV. Yes we see plenty of death, but in TV land, quite often the after effect is skimmed over and the characters seem to return to normal life fairly quickly.
Now if you have lost someone dear to you, you will know that this is simply not realistic. Although it seems perfectly acceptable to gloss over this taboo subject. Maybe the truth is, we just can’t understand grief until we have experienced it, and because it is such a personal journey it is very hard to portray this in a way that would satisfy the grieving viewer.
Enter After life. A refreshing, honest, heart-breaking but funny depiction of what it can really feel like.
I don’t want to give too much of the story away, because I really do think that if you have been through the grieving process after losing a loved one, then this series will be a really valuable one for you to watch.
We see Tony, played by Gervais, mourning the loss of his wife Lisa. She has left him a video to watch. We see him watching parts of this throughout the series.
It gives an insight in to the life they lived together. As the series starts, we meet an angry, sad and lonely Tony. He is neglecting himself, his work and his life in general. And I can relate to that completely.
What this series does unlike others, is it offers an absolute honest look at what it feels like to grieve. The stages we go through and the fact that we continue to move up and down this list of stages from one day to the next.
It is dark and it needs to be, there is very little in the way of sunshine and happiness when you grieve.
It shows the pain he is suffering and the anger he feels towards everyone and everything. But thanks to His Wife’s video we see that this is not the Tony he once was.
What I liked was the journey to a better time that we follow Tony on. You see small moments of normality in among all the chaos he is.
I remember those feelings. Small moments in time where something made me smile, or made me laugh and for a moment there is hope that things will improve, life will get better.
We see this for Tony, we see thanks to his character interactions with those he works with and the strangers he meets that he begins to see this hope. The reason to get up and keep going.
Particularly Anne, A widow he meets when he visits his wife’s grave. She offers him the level headed advice from an experienced grief veteran that he needs. Their connection offered the one quote that really resonated with me.
“If you love someone you delight in their happiness, even if it’s not yours.”
Anne, After Life
From this, I take that it is OK to accept the happiness around you even if, at that moment you are not feeling happy. That it is OK for life to continue for others even if yours feels like it is on hold. That those that love you will always have a reason to be happy and that you can share in this because you love them. Yes it doesn’t change the pain you are feeling but it is a step forward. And it seemed to be a turning point for Tony as well.
My only niggle with this series, is the slightly negative portrayal of male mental health. The characters had some sympathy for Tony but very little patience with it. He had the most terrible therapist and it highlighted a serious lack of support for men in this situation.
As I have said in other posts, Mental health and in particular the grieving process are still such taboo subjects. They really shouldn’t be and perhaps a series like this will open the door to more like it.
There is talk of a second series and I would be intrigued to see where they go with that.
I’d love to hear your views on this series if you’ve watched it. And especially if you have lost someone dear to you. Do you think it is an accurate portrayal or do you feel it glamorises the process of grief?
Is there a need to include this subject in the television we watch daily or is it covered enough already?