Exeter, Devon UK • May 21, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Screen Review: After Life Season 2

Review: After Life Season 2

Exeposé Screen contributor dives into Netflix's After Life Season 2.
5 mins read
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Review: After Life Season 2

Exeposé Screen contributor dives into Netflix’s After Life Season 2.

There aren’t many shows on Netflix that really get to me emotionally. After Life’s first season was one of them, and Gervais’ second season goes one step further. At times, the show is a gut-wrenching presentation of life, death, family and love. At others, it is a gut-busting concoction of comedic elements, with Paul Kaye’s therapist in desperate need of therapy himself, and Joe Wilkinson’s typically hapless postman finding love with Roisin Conaty’s sex worker.

The reason I love After Life is because it resonated so deeply with me. There are dark elements in the process of moving on, of dealing with loss that Gervais doesn’t hide away. There are the breakdowns in private, the putting on of a brave face regardless of circumstance, the inability to connect with others following the departure of a loved one. There are the temptations for short-term salvation in destructive behaviours; in wanting to isolate, in losing your temper unnecessarily. It hurts to lose someone – but it should hurt. It’s a sign they meant something to you. The show is brilliant at encapsulating this.

One of the stars of the show is Brandy, the dog owned by Gervais’s character, Tony. The scenes where Tony’s sole companion following the death of his wife are simultaneously heart-warming and difficult to watch, even though it’s a situation I imagine most of us have been in. The brilliance of the show lies in its ability to portray situations we’ve all found ourselves in – there’s a harsh realness to these scenes.

It hurts to lose someone – but it should hurt. It’s a sign they meant something to you.

But it isn’t a show devoid of happiness; the aforementioned development of Wilkinson’s postman and Conaty’s sex worker is an uplifting storyline juxtaposed to the majority of the series in which Tony loses his dad, finds himself unable to become attached to Ashley Jensen’s nurse at the care home, and discovers his job is at risk as the newspaper he works for faces being shut down. His boss and brother in law, played by Tom Basden, also goes through a marital breakup that ultimately has a happy resolution.

Series 2 forces a poignant reflection on relationships, love, and family, in a way that made me deeply uncomfortable. I think it is brilliant for doing so. It’s fantastic for not giving everything a happy ending, for not shying away from the fact that sometimes life is just a miserable pile of sh*t. But it also does a superb job of showing that things do get better, if you work through them, and that there’s enough good in the world that’s worth hanging on to.

We give it:
5

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