If there’s one show I had been looking forward to these past few weeks, it’s season 2 of Ricky Gervais’ After Life. And wow, did it live up to expectations. The six episodes of the second season are as good as the ones in season 1, if not better. I watched all of season 2 in a three hour long sitting, although it felt like only 10 minutes had passed between me starting the first episode and finishing the last. And after this I was emotionally drained. Over the next days I rewatched the whole season. And it was as heartbreaking and heartwarming as the first time I watched.
After life season 2
The first episode of season 2 starts where we left Tony in the season 1 finale. He seems to be doing a little better and is trying to be a better person to the people around him. But early in the first episode, we see that Tony is obviously still struggling with the death of his wife Lisa and still takes this out on others, like his coworkers, a yoga instructor and his father’s nurse Emma. But he’s trying to improve his life with the help of the people he had gathered around him during the first season.
The relationships established in the first season are further developed in the second. Like Tony’s great friendship with sex worker Roxy. But also with his mailman Pat, who is now comfortable enough around Tony, that he’ll just take a bath in his house. Both characters provide some much needed laughter in Tony’s life which gives us some of the funniest and most absurd scenes on the show.
Probably the purest friendship on the show is the one between Tony and Anne, who’s mourning her husband’s death. She teaches him to cope with his feelings of anger and sadness, and around her Tony shows that he can be vulnerable.
And as the season goes on, Tony does improve. Not necessarily in his own life. He is still heartbroken and everything he does and says revolves around Lisa, but he changes the life of others. He sets up Roxy and Pat, he saves the local news paper, and he tries to help his brother in law with his marital problems. And Tony even goes out of his way to make his annoying coworker Kath feel better. He may have learned this from Lisa, who had to make sure everybody else was OK first, before looking at herself.
Besides trying to get his life back on the rails, Tony struggles with another thing. In the season 1 finale, his father’s nurse Emma agrees to go out for a drink with Tony. But very early in season 2 we learn that they are not dating. Emma feels like Tony is not ready to date yet because he’s not over Lisa and for most of season 2 they try to figure out what to do. Tony doesn’t want to define their relationship and likes things the way they are, whereas Emma is ready for a next step and doesn’t want a relationship that feels like Groundhog Day.
Just as they’re still trying to figure this out, Tony’s dad passes away in the nursing home. Even though he had already lost his dad to dementia years ago, this is still sad for him. As much as Tony has tried to keep up the fact that he is doing better, the kindness of the people around him eventually breaks him.
It all comes to a very climactic end where Tony is watching another video of Lisa. She tells him she can finally sleep, now that he has said good night. This brings Tony to the point where all he wants is for the pain to be over. In the show’s most powerful scene, that seemed to take forever, but was actually only about one minute long, Tony is about to kill himself. But right before he wants to take too many sleeping pills, Emma shows up at his doorstep, telling him she’ll take a Groundhog Day relationship with him.
And with that season 2 of After Life ends. And it was perfect.
The beauty of this show is that it can take you from laughing hysterically to crying in a few seconds. I don’t think I have ever had an emotional reaction like this with any other show I have watched.
Besides the strong stories and great character development that this season brings, it also gives the cast a chance to shine, with Gervais giving one of his best performances yet. Every time Tony cried, I did too. Every time he laughed, I did the same. Ricky Gervais is just brilliant and After Life is a master piece. The music, the acting, the stories. And the dog, let’s not forget about Brandy. It’s all perfect.
What an incredible emotional roller coaster, but I loved every second of it.
Season 2 of After Life is now streaming on Netflix.