Afterlife tackles loss in a way no show has done before. Season 2 had a lot to live up to, and boy, it more than lived up to it. Season 2 picks up with Tony still struggling to come to terms with the passing of his late wife, Lisa.
From the beginning of Afterlife season 2, you sense progression from Tony as he navigates his way through the stages of grief. He seems noticeably more empathetic, and unlike season one, he seems to want to live for himself as well as others.
His friendship with brother in law Matt takes center stage when he accompanies Matt to see a Yoga instructor/therapist who insinuates to Tony that suffering is psychological. Tony ends up telling the instructor what he thinks of him in the most expletive, comedic way possible.
Matt’s marriage being in trouble scares Tony, and you sense he feels Matt may follow him down a dark path. This seems to help Tony focus his energy on being there to support the people that have stuck by him.
Tony, and his “will he, won’t he” relationship with Emma, is a vital part of season 2 as this hints that Tony is trying to rebuild his life. The role of the unhelpful psychiatrist and his two friends seem to polarize opinions. Many felt like they were welcome additions to season 2 and just enhanced the narrative of how much Tony despised everyone apart from those closest to him.
Another highlight is the friendship between Kath and Tony, with him constantly picking apart her spiritual ideals bit by bit – but when he senses Kath feels lost in her life, Tony is there once more to help her get back on track.
Tony’s relationship with his dog, Brandy, is the perfect example of a dog being a man’s best friend. He is trying to find his way through all the stages of grief, and there is a real sense that without Brandy, Tony would have succumbed to the overpowering feeling of loss he’s currently experiencing.
The burgeoning relationship between postman Pat and Roxy is another brilliant subplot by Gervais. In addition to the postman’s relationship with Roxy, there are other beautiful story arcs, including Sandy‘s burgeoning friendship with Tony. Sandy wants nothing more than for Tony to be happy – and Tony seemingly wants to make this dream a reality for Sandy.
Ricky Gervais does dark comedy like no other, and we see this when Tony interviews the 100-year-old who is partial to dropping the C-bomb. The no-filter OAP has long given up on life. Tony has a shared understanding with the OAP, and he shares her pain as they both have experienced loss.
The ending is a tear-jerking, goosebumps inducing moment where nurse Emma rings the doorbell, ultimately saving Tony’s life.
Afterlife season 2 combines tragedy with comedy in the most effective way possible. We see this none more so than when we are watching Brian Gittins telling the theater audience an inappropriate joke about Michael Jackson – this leads to Tony receiving some devastating news about his dad.
The line between comedy and trauma is thin, but Ricky Gervais walks it brilliantly from start to finish. With most TV shows, there is always one particular emotion. But Gervais expertly weaves between comedy and trauma, making Afterlife season 2 a classic television show that will undoubtedly pass the test of time.
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