'After Life' star Paul Kaye as Tony's psychiatrist, although funny, is everything a therapist should not be
Ricky Gervais' 'After Life' is a fresh take on dealing with the loss of a loved one. Paul Kaye's role as the clumsy therapist shows all the traits that any real psychologist or psychiatrist should steer clear of
Ricky Gervais has hit the right chord with his latest show on Netflix, 'After Life', which is packed with a pinch of sarcasm and dollops of humor. The series revolves around Tony Johnson, who is depressed after his wife's death. Soon after he loses the love of his life, he adopts a devil-may-care attitude and calls it his "superpower". He decides to do what he wants and say what he feels with the final plan to kill himself when he gets tired of it all.
In the show, Tony sees a therapist, played by actor Paul Kaye. Clumsy and dim-witted, the psychiatrist makes matters worse rather than help him with his condition. Of course, the scenes are meant to be a spoof just to get a giggle from viewers, but it could also be a guide to everything that a psychologist or psychiatrist in the same position should not do!
As he is struggling with accepting his fate, Tony tells the therapist in the first episode: "A good day is when I don’t want to shoot random strangers in the face, then turn the gun on myself."
That line is an eye-opener to his dicey, depressed state of mind and the scene shows how his therapist pays little or no attention to what he has to say. An example is a similar scene in episode two, where the therapist totally ignores Tony and even gets into a Twitter fight mid-session. Unbelievable, right?
"You seem happy to accept your unhappiness," his therapist tells him in a scene from the third episode. Revealing what he actually feels, Tony tells him: "I just want to stop feeling sad..." The therapist's answer is typical and encapsulates exactly what you shouldn't say to a person suffering from mental illness. Blatantly, he retorts back, "Do that then, just stop being sad." Is it that easy? It's not like depression or mental illness is like a button that you can switch on or off, is it?
Even with no significant results, Tony still attends the sessions with his therapist. However, the next time around, he has another absurd suggestion for Tony. As insane or wacky as it may sound, Tony's therapist advises him to "try sleeping around" instead of serious dating, adding that it is rare to find a single partner for life. Well, the scenes are peppered with absurdity to show the comical side of life but it may put off those who are actually wondering if they should seek help from a therapist.
It takes time for Tony to realize, but he finally finds out that even simple conversations with Anne, an older widow, and Emma, his father's forgiving nurse, have better healing powers than his traumatic sessions with the therapist. As a final blow, Tony finally fires him calling him a "d**k". The show is an eye-opener for psychiatrists and even for people who may have been depressed earlier in life. Any person, suffering from mental illness, can relate to Tony who has trouble adjusting to the "normal" viewpoint of people around him. So, if you're trying to look for a therapist, you know what signs to steer clear of!