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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, March 07, 2019 1:00 am

New Gervais series coming

George Dickie | Zap2it

Tony is a guy firmly stuck in the second stage of grief: anger. And for that the world will pay.

In “After Life,” which begins streaming Friday on Netflix, Ricky Gervais is creator, writer and star of this dramedy that follows the journey of Tony, a small-town English journalist whose idyllic life is rocked to its core by the cancer death of his wife, best friend and love of his life, Lisa (Kerry Godliman, “Derek”). Though she still appears to him in videos made while she was undergoing treatment, they only serve to underscore the gaping void now in his life.

Initially suicidal, this otherwise nice guy resolves to live long enough to punish the world by saying and doing whatever he wants. So if someone is a jerk, he'll let them know in no uncertain terms – and in Gervais' typically acerbic fashion.

“He's sort of like a verbal vigilante and a bit more,” Gervais explains. “And you know, when he gets mugged and he fights back, he would never have done that when his wife was alive. And so I want the audience to vicariously live through his liberty in a sense. Because you know, we hand over our money to a mugger because we might have a baby in a stroller. And he thinks, 'I don't care what happens to me.' He thinks it's a superpower.”

Of course, Tony's family and friends – among them brother-in-law Matt (Tom Basden, “Plebs”) and pal Lenny (Tony Way, “Edge of Tomorrow”) – aren't thrilled with this newfound superpower and would just as soon have the old Tony back. But Tony is mired in his grief and self-pity, getting drunk, trying heroin and striking up an unlikely friendship with Daphne (Roisin Conaty, “GameFace”), a prostitute with a dry wit who turns out to be the only person who really gets him.

“Because she doesn't judge ...,” Gervais says. “She speaks her mind and she knows what he's going through. ... And then she was funny and she was smarter than he thought because, you know, he says, 'Why do you do what you do?' She said, 'You're only asking me that because of what I do.'”

In the end, the grieving process runs as long as it runs and it can't be hurried or forced.

Ultimately it is up to Tony to want to get better.