“After Life” is a new Netflix TV series situated in a small town in Britain. When I first watched the trailer it didn’t strike me as anything special. I’ve already seen the premise many times. A spouse dies and leaves the instructions on how to live without them to the living spouse. In this case, it is the wife who died of cancer and left a series of videos (I believe it was a series of videos, not just one long video) on how to live after she dies.
She tells him everything, from how to wash the dishes to encouraging him to continue living without her, be happy and find someone else.
The first part of the first episode is cliched to the point where the husband (Tony) barely knows how to open a can and is completely confused about the basic daily routines. It’s cliched because not all men are completely clueless when a woman figure is not around, be it a wife or a mom or both (in the same person). I get that Tony didn’t care about living after his wife died let alone about the house chores. That’s completely understandable. Still, he is portrayed as completely clueless to the point where you all if he was able to go to the bathroom by himself without his wife telling him how to take his pants off.
After this initial stage of blah and cliche, the series goes into much more interesting territory. Very early on it starts to show it’s sarcastic and dark humor features. And it’s spot on.
Tony points out things that we all think but no one will dare to say aloud. He is not polite and says things just the way they are. Everyone tolerates it because of his personal trauma with his wife’s death. Through the videos of Tony and his wife we can see that Tony was a prankster and that he is generally good at heart, the same thing his wife emphasizes in her videos to him.
We are so used to be overly polite to the point that we can’t even say to ourselves when something is stupid. If everyone says it’s cute, we’ll parrot it senselessly. A good example is a baby that looks like Hitler. The baby obviously doesn’t look like Hitler. The parents dressed it like Hitler, combed him the same way and draw the mustache with the eyeliner. This scene serves several purposes.
First, to show that we’ll capable of doing anything just to get our 5 minutes of fame. You can observe this “phenomenon” everywhere on the internet, where people will resort to ridiculing themselves just to get Facebook likes or Youtube videos without taking in consideration the consequences to their later life and career. Everything for being an internet sensation for one day! This goes hand in hand with the fact that Tony is working at the local newspaper and, as Tony himself said, everyone wants to be in a newspaper.
Secondly, it shows our fascination with the macabre and the weird and off-putting. It’s not that the parents of the “Hitler baby” are Nazi-fans or anything. They just find Hitler funny. Far from Hitler, another scene shows the same. It’s the scene or the “local news” of the kid who can play two basic school flutes through his nostrils. When you think of it, it borders on disgusting but it sells. So the kid ends up being a newspaper story.
We can say that’s “After Life” is just the representation of the small town people and their eccentricities but it’s far more than that. It shows the world at large through the model of just one, small community. If you think about it, there is no big difference between “nostril flute player” in the local newspaper and, say, Toddlers and Tiaras in the global media.
In conclusion, “After Life” is a great tv series to watch that gives you a fairly accurate depiction of human nature and our society. Highly recommended.