It didn’t occur to me until my American-born, 12-year-old niece wondered why I say the word “cheers” so often, and so do I. Until I find star-comedian Ricky Gervais doing the same on screen, probably after every sentence.
Guess it’s a British thing. And Bombay/Desi English, in any case, mostly British, American, and anywhere else you can make bhel puri.
Still glad Indians, on occasion, “Hiya!” Will type (for hi) In phone text/chat, they never actually use that hyena-like British sound when talking. Although the most common Brit slang for a woman to get my goat should be “bird,” Gervais (pronounced DJ-er-was) and her personal acting troupe have a lot to say, too.
What provocateur Gervais’s goat gets lightly is when the white, older, single brat on the hunt at the bar refers to “beating up some beavers” for casual sex. Oh!
I’m certainly making random observations to get a third, and probably final, season (on Netflix) out of the first series of Afterlife—Gervais—which, in turn, loads equally on the mundane.
Larry David playing Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm
What kind of show is After Life? Don’t know if Netflix always had this category listed separately on their homepage – apart from comedy, thriller, horror, etc – I see it now, called ‘casual viewing’. Like everything else, they believe, one must be willing to appear for the board exams.
But “Casual Viewing” is perfect for a comfort series that includes a few locations, mostly neighborhood/indoors, and characters who feel like friends — all of which are borderline losers in the middle of the runway; No fake heroes/villains. Circumstances largely drive their movements/moods/motivations. No big stakes in the way of life or death, unlike a murder mystery, and other hopptity, the dark side of the moon.
The worst thing that can happen in a show like this is heartbreak. They are, by far, the most-watched on Earth – usually sit-coms, or situational comedies, of short episodes, and of longer durations.
Guys is probably at the top of the list. Seinfeld certainly comes close. For the more adult population, perhaps The Office, originally co-written, directed and enacted by Gervais, is right there. And Schitts Creek may be the current No. These aren’t shows that get you a drink—but watch along, because you’re already drunk, and it doesn’t matter.
The longtime favorite has been Curb Your Enthusiasm, in which Seinfeld’s producer Larry David plays Larry David. One of the biggest existential woes that the show tackled, according to me, is how long you must hold the door in a public place for the stranger behind you; Ideally measured by precise distance – to pass the test of social etiquette.
Plus, how many flavors must a customer try at Baskin Robbins before they give way to the top of the line? Similarly, where Larry explains what all men sitting in jeans/trousers have suffered for generations – the deceptive bulge in the crotch area, whatever it is but it appears to be annoying.
Gervais’ series Extras was, by his admission, influenced by Curb Your Enthusiasm. But, of course, so is the afterlife. Crabby old Larry, pissing everyone off, is there to curb Gervais’s afterlife as Tony.
The Indian show Decoupled (on Netflix) comes to a close. Only Lead (Madhavan) the Type-A, smug, bestselling author variety, is getting it. His comments in the form of humor are directed at everyone alone. Accidentally vulnerable, then the opposite of the hero type, partly annoying and especially eccentric Larry, or Tony.
There are jokes on the first main character. Self-absorbed, self-centered Tony, who is oddly not a selfish person. Through that, you start to like the people around you, making Afterlife an even better series when it’s not just about the main.
The third season of this all-white show especially remembered an Indian-origin girl (Mandeep Dhillon) who went missing without any explanation while she loved working as a small-town community newspaper. Speaking of which, I’d love to own a neighborhood paper like the Tambury Gazette—just saying; Not that anyone is sponsoring.
My favorite character in Afterlife though is the good-natured nurse Emma (Ashley Jensen) and the relationship she can share with Tony, as she’s definitely emotionally unavailable. They call it “platonic love,” but it’s actually a co-traveller’s priceless companion.
“We like each other, why do we need to call it something – we walk the same way, nothing changes,” he says. “Maybe I don’t want Groundhog Day,” she replies, with him seeing only an unknown future, rather than the pleasures of the present. They become friends, in a real sense, I hope/suspect.
In addition to suicidal thoughts, stages of grief from the loss of a loved one add sadness to the mundane mix. Or even the kindness of strangers, and love from unexpected corners, on the other end—After Life is essentially a show about loneliness.
A phase, I think, can turn into a state of mind so strong that you can actively miss it if it is removed in situations that appear worse/busier in comparison. The forced isolation over the pandemic may have forced many to rethink all of this. Season three of After Life did just that. And, what to say, it should be listed as ‘Casual Viewing’ on Netflix!
Mayank Shekhar has tried to make sense of the people’s culture. He tweeted @mayankw14
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