Roisin Conaty

Roisin Conaty

2010 Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award best newcomer winner
Read More

After Life series two

TV review by Steve Bennett

Given he’s known for brutally direct stand-up, it’s little surprise that Ricky Gervais doesn’t do subtext.  But his approach proves a very blunt tool, especially when tackling the big issues of grief and depression on which After Life is built, leaving a show that struggles with nuance.

In the second series of the hit Netflix sad-com, which dropped today, the comedian’s character Tony remains understandably floored by the death of his wife Lisa, his redemption at the end of series one doing nothing to fill the yawning hole in his soul. He pines for her by rewatching old home videos, numbing the pain with alcohol.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, he tells his colleague Lenny (Tony Way): ‘I’m just feeling sorry  for myself and guilty about that’ and that he’s ‘in pain but getting better every day’.

What happened to that mantra of screen storytelling, show, don’t tell? It’s ignored here as Tony explicitly gives voice to his every feeling, whether to co-workers, to his graveyard buddy Anne (Penelope Wilton), or to his useless psychiatrist, played by Paul Kaye – and usually underscored by sad music to ram the point home. 

Much of the script is a monologue showing Gervais thinking through grief, but in a very direct way, straining just that bit too hard to prove he’s an auteur who can do sad and serious, not just flippant comedy. Meanwhile, some characters, that therapist or Diane Morgan’s paranormal-believing Kath, seem largely there just to provide a point for him to argue - again very literally - about.

Yet, as with series one, the heavy-handed dramatic elements are leavened with outlandishly funny comedy scenes, very often thanks to the brilliant Joe Wilkinson, playing to type as the grubby postman Pat. By far the best scene in episode one involves him making a house call on Tony, though the gag featured prominently in the trailer.

The other best things about the show are Kerry Godliman’s perfect portrayal of Lisa, warm and jokey and human, and Roisin Conaty’s whirlwind of a carefree sex worker Daphne. The relationship lined up between her and Pat is one worth following.

Episode one features a couple of other comic scenes. The one with Tony interviewing a 100-year-old isn’t specially clever, but seeing Annette Crosby, known for playing the endlessly patient Margaret Meldrew, spray out c-bombs as she resents every moment of her long existence is brutally effective. 

Gervais, though, overuses the freedom Netflix lends to be as foul-mouthed as he likes, with the same blunt expletive providing a payoff to a meditation scene, featuring Seb Cardinal as the sniffling yogi, that doesn’t deliver on its promise.

It’s hard to avoid coming to the same verdict for the series as a whole, even though there are enough moments of comic quirk to keep it intriguing. 

However despite, or perhaps because of, Gervais’s way of semaphoring every feeling with little subtlety, the first series of After Life was phenomenally successful, and there’s no denying this repeats that winning formula. If you liked the first run, fill your boots.

But for a nuanced, often laugh-out-loud Netflix comedy with complex, screwed-up but relatable characters dealing with depression and more, Gervais comes a poor second to a cartoon horse

• After Life series two is on Netflix now.

Read More

Published: 24 Apr 2020

GameFace Series 2

Roisin Conaty’s sitcom has got a deserved promotion…
17/07/2019

Gameface

It’s probably impossible to review Roisin Conaty’s…
12/10/2017

Stand Up Get Down

This charity gig was billed as Jessica Hynes’s first…
1/01/2008

Cakes: Captured

New female double act The Cakes show a lot of promise…
1/01/2007

Bling Blush Bonk

This is a traditional stand-up show featuring three…
1/01/2004

Comments

Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2004

Bling Blush Bonk


Edinburgh Fringe 2007

Cakes: Captured


Edinburgh Fringe 2011

Roisin Conaty: Destiny's Dickhead


Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Roisin Conaty: Lifehunter


Agent

We do not currently hold contact details for Roisin Conaty's agent. If you are a comic or agent wanting your details to appear on Chortle, click here.

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.