A Flood of Thoughts on ‘After Life’

After Life 2 is the pillow you can cuddle on to while feeling blue, and this might very well be the perfect time to do so.

In the second season of After Life, nothing has changed. Tony, still mourning the death of his wife, Lisa, finds it arduous to get his life further. A grief-stricken Tony admits that all the best bits of his life died along with Lisa, and he is left with his somber self and a boon companion, Brandy, a German Shepherd.

The title, After Life, is one centriole, among the plethora of friendly wrangles between Tony and his co-worker, Kath. Tony’s atheism steers him to completely ignore the concept of life after death, whereas Kath disapproves of his skepticism. Like the title intends to, the concept of ‘afterlife’ is not fundamentally confined to what lies beyond death. It is about what exists ahead after a radical change in life. Death, probably, is the harshest change one can be imposed with, like in Tony’s case. Although he is alive, his past with Lisa’s companionship surpassingly contrasts with his present. 

Tony & Brandy

How the concept of ‘After Life’ applies to us, and Me.

There’s no suspicion that death convulses and inflicts agony in people, thereby leading to an afterlife of the dead, and those connected with. On the other hand, on a mildly strident scale of impact, an estranged relationship, a place with emotional attachment, or a horrendous work-life one leaves behind, pave way for the afterlife. Picture that two people have been in a relationship for a couple of years, through the peaks and valleys, when the juncture to part ways arrives, every single day post that point is the ‘afterlife’. Undoubtedly, when the perpetuity of the relationship hits the stalemate, what follows would not remain invariable for either of the people in the relationship.

Likewise, leaving a job, which absorbs the majority of our lives, is capable enough to turn lives upside down. It did for me, on a good note, because my life had already been down, and quitting job set the level right. There we go, moving on from a job that has left an execrable taste in life, could also be one’s afterlife. The concept of the afterlife resonates with all of us, some are conscious, others are not. For some, it’s just life. I, though, have seen multiple ‘afterlives’ for that matter. Over the years, I’ve quit multiple jobs, moved places, and have stifled relationships. Being emotionally feeble, circumstances affected me more than they should. On that front, emerging out of such situations time and over again, opened door(s) to my afterlife. 

It’s funny that all of us, some dealing with harder lives than others, have experienced this and most of us have ignored it for something substantial, because emotions don’t count as materialistic stuff. Right? 

After Life, the series I mean now, is all about acknowledging the elements that suffuse our ephemeral lives: Love, Memories, and the byproduct of these two facets, Happiness.

The World

The presence of the series is a sheer joy in a world (and especially from the part of it I hail from) that seldom disregards the emotional lows. The world Ricky Gervais creates in After Life doesn’t appear realistic to me, locked down in Western India. My world significantly differs from Tony’s, both from the outwards and inwards. The color Gervais paints on this world could be the faultless version of it. There’s still death, the mourning will follow, but people in this fictional world will value these, unlike the real one. 

Perhaps, there is a section of one such world, and the show only represents that. Perhaps, I’ve overlooked people in grief all my life. Perhaps, people wage wars with their emotions in their heads.

The fact that the story is set in Tambury, a fictional town, could back the point that the real world doesn’t value mental trauma. Tambury, warm in both color pallet and nature, coupled with the laid-back and nonchalant energy that wafts through the atmosphere, could be Gervais’ way of telling, “Stop being arseholes running pointlessly, and live.”

The desolate streets in Tony’s neighborhood stand for the bleak emptiness in him. Only the people passing through his mental proximity appear on the screen, and apparently, most of them end up becoming fleshy characters. Postman Pat, for instance, is one person who comes into his vicinity, and the character gradually develops an arc of its own. Slowly, the second season tells us that although Tony remains the center of the show’s universe, it is about about the world. What is the world, for that matter? The tiny organisms that evade it, humans. The flowering relationship of the homeless Pat and Roxy, a sex-worker, shapes into a lovely thread. Matt and Lenny, Tony’s brther-in-law and co-woker/friend get arcs pertaining to personal relationships and issues.

Pat & Roxy

The Office

It was only a matter of time for the creator of The Office to set up an equally awkward workplace. The funniest of the scenes in both the seasons of After Life leverage the fiddly nature of The Tambury Gazette’s employees. The working atmosphere of the local newspaper that Tony works for, is anything but exhausting. What creates the base for the completely unrealistic depiction of a workplace is the people’s ability to understand a co-worker’s mental affliction. How unrealistic? The office and its people, two factors that the show primarily sources its humor from, also attribute to some of the most heart-warming moments of the show. Everyone extending a helping hand to Tony, is a true joy to witness. The conversation between Tony and Kath in a coffee shop, which is the first instance Tony breaks down explicitly, is one of the half a dozen instances I cried. Tony’s emotional catharsis in front of a co-worker, and the warmth Kath reciprocates, is sure to instigate the thought of the absence of such people around us. Moreover, the bond between Tony and Sandy reflects the former’s fatherly nature, with clear mutual support. Tony is dealing with a mental crisis, while Sandy fights real-world problems to keep her family running. Both of them make up for a duo that’s dealing with an existential crisis, one directly and the other indirectly.

Need for Love

Yet another facet that invigorates the show is how much it emphasizes the need for love. Lives of Tony’s father and Anne, a widow whom Tony befriends at the graveyard, are testimonials of perennial love. For all one knows, the tragedy is inevitable for one person in the relationship. Melancholic, it is. Everyone needs Anne in their lives, empathetic and benevolent. Her support remains one factor in keeping Tony away from killing himself, and all she does is talk kindly. Anne, in a sense, is his actual therapist. Unlike Tony’s conventional therapist, who verbally tells him to stop feeling said, Anne comforts him when he is sad. The therapy sessions and the social incorrectness these conversations are infused with, are pure comic gold and an exaggerated satire on psychiatrists. As someone who attended psychiatric sessions, I discern the non-existent empathy that prevails through them. On the other hand, Anne’s mere presence is consoling.

Converging back to where I started, After Life is a pillow for loners to cuddle on to, and laugh and cry along. Regardless of where you hail from, your age, sex, and other materialistic factors, watching Tony is sure to make you happy and sad, because we know it’s life, and we would be in his shoes, sooner or later.

After Life is streaming on Netflix.

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