Tony (Ricky Gervais) continues to struggle with grief following the death of his wife, Lisa (Kerry Godliman). He clashes with Matt (Tom Basden), who is both his brother-in-law and boss at the Tambury Gazette, and is still meeting eccentric individuals as he interviews them for the local paper. A chance at romance is fizzling out with Emma (Ashley Jensen), as she feels she is competing with Lisa for Tony’s affection. Meanwhile Anne (Penelope Wilton), a widow who Tony has befriended, continues to give worldly advice. Tony’s friends and colleagues face demons as well.
As ‘After Life’ kicks off, Tony is in a fouler mood then ever, and the tone of the first two to three episodes is rather bleak. The authentic feel of the hit Netflix series is thus maintained for such is the nature of mourning – there are good days and bad days. Sometimes one has to take two steps back in order to take one forward.
One still gets the sense that Ricky Gervais’ writing is an attempt to unleash grievances he has against annoying people (fans of the show will remember when Tony tried to order a child’s portion of fish fingers and beans; in this season, he goes to extreme lengths to rail on the father of a newborn). As a viewer, you often don’t know whether to be horrified or to laugh out loud.
While it may not be the best season yet, what distinguishes season 3 of ‘After Life’ is its delving into the supporting characters more than ever before. Kath (Diane Morgan) particularly comes to the fore in this regard, and her storyline of feeling lost and lonely really hits home in the pandemic era. The friendship between James (Ethan Lawrence) and Brian (David Earl) continues to be oddly sweet. Moreover, Anne and Tony’s chats on the bench in the graveyard continue to be a series highlight.
New additions include Coleen, played by Kath Hughes, an intern at the Tambury Gazette who wins over Tony as much as the audience, while a fortune teller who writes erotic novels is simply hilarious. The last episode feels a little like we’re going back to the season 1 finale, but it’s still pretty tear jerking. If Ricky Gervais doesn’t bring ‘After Life’ back for another go round the merry-go-round, we’ll still forever cherish what it’s taught us about life, and after.
'After Life' is streaming on Netflix from Friday, 14 January.