Ricky Gervais’ new Netflix series After Life is as heartwarming as it is bleak, balancing a serious meditation on depression and grief with some hilarious dark comedy. In the few short weeks since the show dropped on the streaming service, it has amassed a big enough fan base for a season 2 renewal.
The series struck the perfect tone to make it Gervais’ definitive work, and it has also made a deep connection with millions of people going through the same issues as his character across the world. At its core, After Life is a show about what it takes to be happy. So, here are 10 Quotes From Ricky Gervais’ After Life That Will Make You Think.
10 “Good people do things for other people. That’s it. The end.”
People get so hung up on what it takes to be a good person. They spend hours on end trying to figure out what they can do to make the world a better place or how they can have a positive impact on humanity to make them feel good about themselves.
And this is it. This is the be-all and end-all of what it takes to be a decent human being: do things for other people. Go out of your way to make other people’s lives a little bit easier, however you can, with whatever is within your capability, and you’ll be a good person by definition.
9 “Hope is everything.”
When we experience the darkest moments in our lives, it can seem like things will always be that bad and it’ll never get better. So, we have to just hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
This is what keeps Tony going throughout the six initial episodes of After Life. He holds out hope that he’ll be able to move on from losing the person he cared about the most in the world and get his life back on track. All he has is hope and he holds onto it for dear life. In many ways, hope really is everything.
8 “I still have my downs, but then life throws you these interesting little things, doesn’t it?”
At the beginning of the first season of After Life, Tony seems to have decided that he’ll never be happy again as long as his wife isn’t around anymore. At its core, this is a show about one man making an emotional connection with all of the people in his life.
He finds common ground with all of them, no matter how different they might seem on the surface – whether they’re a drug addict or a co-worker or another grieving spouse – and that’s what gives him the strength to keep going. By the end of the season, he’s tackled his depression, thanks to the “interesting little things” that life has thrown at him.
7 “You can’t feel sorry for yourself. You’ve got to keep going.”
This is something that we all tell ourselves, and something that we all know to be true, and yet it’s also something that’s easier said than done. If something tragic happens to us, like losing a spouse in the way After Life’s protagonist Tony did, it’s so easy to just slip into a stagnant state and wallow in our own misery.
It’s never healthy or positive to feel sorry for yourself, and it’ll never get you anywhere in terms of moving on from the pain, but it’s difficult not to. Keeping going isn’t anywhere near as easy as it sounds.
6 “You’re like a troll on Twitter. Just because you’re upset, everyone has to be upset.”
Trolling on social media has become a serious problem in the past few years, as pretty much anyone who puts anything online will be attacked or harassed or ridiculed. And this quote cuts down to the core of what’s going on with those trolls. They’re unhappy, so they want everyone else to be unhappy.
This is why sexists have been laying into Brie Larson and Captain Marvel in the past couple of months, and also why Larson is able to rise above their vicious hate speech. It’s very simple: they’re angry, so they take it out on everyone online from behind the safety of a computer screen and try to make them as angry as they are.
5 “Humanity is a plague. We’re a disgusting, narcissistic, selfish parasite, and the world would be a better place without us.”
“Here’s what’s what: humanity is a plague. We’re a disgusting, narcissistic, selfish parasite, and the world would be a better place without us. It should be everyone’s moral duty to kill themselves. I could do it now. Quite happily just go upstairs, jump off the roof, and make sure I landed on some c*** from accounts.”
This is what Tony says to his new co-worker when his boss (and brother-in-law) asks him to show her the ropes. It’s not entirely untrue that the world would be a better place without the human race, but it also demonstrates just how much Tony’s worldview changes between the first and last episodes of the show.
4 “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
Because Ricky Gervais is involved in a wide spectrum of projects – standup, podcasts, writing and starring in his own TV shows etc. – it can be interesting to see what filters from one medium to another as certain lines rattle around Gervais’ head over the years. For example, one of Gervais’ old standup routines made its way into a newspaper gag in the show.
In one scene, Anne, the widow Tony meets at the cemetery played by the great Penelope Wilton, tells him this old Greek proverb. It was previously told to Gervais by his creative partner Stephen Merchant on one of their old podcasts. It’s interesting to see how these things come together.
3 “Nothing’s as good if you don’t share it.”
The central tragedy of Ricky Gervais’ character Tony losing his wife in After Life is that he doesn’t have someone to share his life with anymore. He doesn’t have the love of his life around to tell about everything good or funny or interesting that happens in his life, and that takes away all the enjoyment of those things.
The enjoyment used to come from sharing it with his wife. In one of the show’s saddest moments, he says, “Light of my life. She passed away last year. Anything that happens, I go to tell her...but then I remember...Nothing’s as good if you don’t share it.”
2 “I’d rather be nowhere with her than somewhere without her.”
In the first few episodes of After Life, Tony seriously struggles with suicidal thoughts. In fact, in a couple of scenes, he even comes really close to ending it. But on every occasion, he either remembers that his dog depends on him or the dog actually walks in the room and he starts to question whether or not he wants to do it and ends up putting it off.
By the end of season 1, he’s tackled these thoughts and overcome them, but in an early episode, he explains the logic behind them: “I’d rather be nowhere with her than somewhere without her.”
1 “We’re not just here for us, we’re here for others.”
Tony might be the character at the center of After Life, but it’s not really a show about him. It’s a show about all the people around him, in his little world, and how he might be able to impact their lives in a positive way and bring some of the meaning and purpose back into his life.
The core message of the show is exactly this: “We’re not just here for us, we’re here for others.” Selfishness gets us nowhere. Being nice, spreading love, offering a helping hand, and committing the occasional random act of kindness are the way forward, and the way to make our time on this Earth count.