The End of the F***ing World is one of Netflix’s latest original series’ and it’s quite possibly the most oddly intriguing show on the platform. It follows the unlikely pairing of 17 year olds James and Alyssa on a road trip in search of a place other than what they’ve known as home. The catch; James is a psychopath incapable of human emotion and Alyssa is a moody teen who flourishes with crude behaviour, an unlikely pairing that somehow works. This is a strikingly mature show about a largely uncensored young love journey with a distinct tone that gets consistently more entertaining the more time you spend in the world. It’s a very confined story over eight 20 minute episodes that explores a lot of content within a very short timeframe. It stars the relatively unknown Jessica Barden and Alex Lawther in the main roles and this may just be their big break into securing more prominent roles.
One of the charms of this series is the way humour is derived from the very dry personalities of James and Alyssa and their human, yet at the same time very unhuman-like interactions. This unlikely duo creates a flurry of entertaining moments sprinkled throughout this journey and make it a really fun road-trip to follow. There is some pretty dark stuff in here but it’s presented in a way that doesn’t bring the tone to a depressing level and never fails to keep up the humour in the following scene. I will admit that most of the humour is quite unconventional (much like this entire series) and it hits almost all of the time. Beneath all of the misanthropic behaviour and the humour within that there is an emotional edge to the series that I feel grounds the events in reality despite some things feeling slightly unreal. It brings layers to these characters and allows room for growth….. admittedly not a whole lot of room for growth but when considering they’re your protagonists…. some is better than none. The story goes so many places you never thought it would go and I love that it houses so many damn surprises around every corner, and at the rapid pace it moves a lot is covered.
It’s an unpredictable story led by very unpredictable characters and the performances behind those characters are fantastically real. Jessica Barden and Alex Lawther are great as Alyssa and James respectively and play their truly unique characters insanely well…… emphasis on the insane. They both play characters who to be honest, you really shouldn’t like but for whatever reason there is a charm to them and their bond and the chemistry between the performers is very much felt in every scene. The supporting roles are ok, you don’t really spend a whole lot of time getting to know anyone else aside from a pair of police played by Gemma Whelan and Wunmi Mosaku. I liked the arc they went on, albeit a very short one, and honestly would have liked to have seen a bit more from them if the episodes were more than 20 minutes long. I feel like the soundtrack here may be overlooked but it really shouldn’t because it is brilliant. The songs that play during a number of scenes set the tone and the mood and pretty geniusly lighten up the dark moments just enough to retain their impact and not making them seem out of place.
At some points throughout the season though it does slow down just a tad, maybe for like 5 minutes at a time, especially in the last 2 episodes. I get that isn’t a lot of time but when the episodes are 20 minutes in length, 5 minutes is a quarter of the episode…. so it does stand out. Right to the final moment it makes some daring decisions, most of which I liked, one of which I didn’t but overall it’s a satisfying watch where entertainment is derived from pure chaos. I highly recommend checking out this series and hey, even if you don’t like it, it will only take up 2 hours and 40 minutes of your life so there’s nothing to complain about.