Ricky Gervais defends bad language in After Life: “People appreciate it when you don’t patronise them”

The writer/star of the Netflix series says audiences can handle dark themes and coarse language in sitcoms.

Anti in After Life

Ricky Gervais has defended his use of bad language in his Netflix series After Life, arguing that audiences can handle coarse language and dark themes… even in a sitcom.


The popular series – which stars writer/creator Gervais as grieving widower Tony – recently returned for a second season, liberally sprinkled with c-bombs and other expletives.

“I did wonder in a half-hour, so-called ‘sitcom’… could people go from the worst thing that could happen – this man has lost his wife to cancer – to then laughing at him insulting a little fat kid? And the answer’s yes,” Gervais told RadioTimes.com in an exclusive interview.

He argued: “We second-guess people too much. We go, ‘Can they take this as an audience?’ – of course they can! Real life is worse!

“Even the language thing… have you walked past a building site, to hear the language? Or a school?!

“So people can take it… and the more we water it down, the more anodyne it becomes, and I think people appreciate it when you don’t patronise them.”

Gervais recently told RadioTimes.com that he believes After Life, which sees Tony struggle to recover from the loss of his wife Lisa (Kerry Godliman), “might resonate even more” in challenging times.


“I think there’s always the time for reflecting on family, and the elderly, and all the things that matter in life – safety, and comfort, and health,” he said “I don’t think there’s ever a bad time to do that, it’s just that we usually take [those things] for granted.

“[The show is] not about now, but I think it might resonate even more.”


After Life season 2 is streaming now on Netflix. To watch RadioTimes.com’s full interview with Ricky Gervais, head to facebook.com/radiotimes at 7pm on Friday (1st May) for the live premiere.