There are few shows that suck you in and make it impossible to stop watching. Yet Netflix has somehow found another in “The End of the F***ing World,” a new series on the streaming service. The series is a co-production with Channel 4 from the UK, the series is based on Charles Forsman’s graphic novel of the same name. The story follows two teenagers who see their relationship from very different perspectives. Alyssa (Jessica Barden) believes she’s found a boy who can take her away from her Mom and skeevy step-father. However, James (Alex Lawther) believes he’s a psychopath that is about to begin his life as a serial murderer. The series becomes as insane as you might think, delivering an absurd and bloody season of greatness.
The premise of the series is simple, but what separates the show from the field is the magnetic chemistry of Barden and Lather. They play off each other better than one might expect, especially given the trajectory of the show. At first, James’ stoicism seems to confirm the audience fear that he’s a cold-blooded murderer. Yet the series progression open James up, displaying his mental state to the world. Lawther slowly transitions from a detached creature into a raw and emotional teenage boy. There’s an inner-strength in the subtext, but the way in which Barden plays Alyssa, her agency is never in question. Barden and Lawther’s chemistry makes you root for these lovebirds.
While this show is Lawther and Barden’s show, there is strong work abound. Charlie Covell writes the series extremely well and leans into the natural charisma many sociopaths possess. The show employs dueling voiceovers from each character, an interesting narrative choice that builds tension. Director and showrunner Jonathan Entwistle crafts a visual language that establishes the series’ tone until he hands the baton to Lucy Tcherniak. The two expertly craft the series with pastiche to the Coens, Tarantino and a bit of Jeremy Saulnier. It’s a strong design for the show that helps audiences buy-in on the familiar but new style.
Audiences may fear the violence the series promises from its early episodes. Trust me, it gets violent immediately. James kills animals, and we see his trophies laid out in front of us. As the series progresses, robberies, murder, and assault ensue. It’s a violent piece of television that chooses not to shy away from controversy. The result is a bloody good time that leaves audiences in shock on multiple occasions.
Another aspect that makes the series extremely watchable are the tight runtimes of each episode. The series is only episodes, with the shortest episodes clocking in at 18 minutes, with the longest at 22 minutes. The short runtimes mixed with the brisk editing makes it easy to watch the show in a single sitting. Even if you think you’re waning on the show, it finds a moment in the first half of the season that grips you so tight you’ll be screaming at your TV. These moments ultimately keep you engaged until the very last second of the season.
Overall, “End of the F***ing World” is not going to be for everybody. However, if you’re into crime, content featuring psychopaths, or the film “Heathers,” this one is for you. Shockingly enjoyable with the best ending of a season of television this year, this is one of the surprise shows in early 2018. If you choose to follow James and Allysa on their journey, lean into the black comedy and let it swallow you up. You’ll be much more satisfied if you do.