Netflix renews Ricky Gervais’ After Life for season 2. The black comedy premiered last month, featuring a distinctly different style from the series creator and lead.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, Gervais has been one of comedy’s most controversial figures. With his contrarian societal takes and unapologetic celebrity commentaries, the English comedian’s act transferred to Hollywood awards shows, as Gervais hosted the Golden Globes four times between 2010 and 2016. While Gervais made a name for himself in Europe during the early stages of his career, many Americans learned about him upon discovering that NBC’s The Office was based on Gervais’ BBC series of the same name. Co-created by Stephen Merchant, the sitcom features Gervais as David Brent, a character that inspired Gervais’ 2016 mockumentary David Brent: Life on the Road. Prior to After Life, Gervais created the dramedy series Derek, which he wrote, directed, and starred in.
Today, Netflix renewed After Life for season 2. The series explores the trials and tribulations of Gervais’ Tony Johnson, a journalist who becomes suicidal after his wife passes away from breast cancer. The character decides to “punish the world" and views his care-free attitude to be his superpower. The official Netflix press release includes a statement from Gervais, who notes, “I have never had a reaction like this before. It’s been insane. And heartwarming.” In addition, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos expressed his support for the series: “We are so proud to play host to Ricky’s brilliant stand up comedy, specials, original films, and series and join in the joy of the fans with his latest hit.” Netflix’s After Life season 2 will premiere in 2020 and air six episodes.
In 2018, Gervais collaborated with Netflix for his first stand-up special in seven years, Ricky Gervais: Humanity. Based on the current Rotten Tomatoes score of 43 percent, critics are lukewarm on the special, though the official audience score is much higher. Ricky Gervais: Humanity complements the comedian’s official tour of the same name, which was preceded by Animals, Politics, Fame, and Science. In 2020, Gervais will return to feature films by voicing “The Cat” in the animated comedy The Willoughbys, in which he co-stars opposite Saturday Night Live alums Maya Rudolph and Will Forte. Gervais also has a main role in the animated comedy Blazing Samurai, which was inspired by Mel Brooks’ 1974 classic Blazing Saddles, and doesn't currently have an official release date through Global Road Entertainment.
Gervais’ comedy isn’t for everybody. Still, his filmmaking experience - for both the big screen and small screen - suggests that he knows how to hit the right story beats with his fictional narratives. After many years in the business, Gervais continues to be a relevant figure, one that Netflix is banking on with After Life.