The End of the F***ing World premiered on Netflix on Friday and it is a mind-bogglingly dark comedy about a couple of teenagers who find each other at exactly the right (or wrong) time in their lives and go on a road trip.
James (Alex Lawther) is pretty sure he’s a psychopath (he’s been killing animals since he was a boy); Alyssa (Jessica Bardem) is an instinctive girl who feels things way too deeply (and expresses herself with a particularly explosive vocabulary).
The pair meet when she approaches him at lunch and suggests they should get to know each other better because he’s the only non-boring person in town (besides her).
They bond over their dads (stepdad in her case) being pricks and reach a tipping point where they run away together after James punches his dad in the face and steals his car.
Alyssa goes because she wants to find her dad and James is the only person cool enough to be with on that trip. James goes because he’s thinking of moving to killing something ‘much bigger’ and thinks she might make the perfect first victim.
The eight-episode run of The End of The F***ing World is adapted from a graphic novel (which I haven’t read) by Charles S. Foreman and it lives in a slightly more intense world than the real world – though it is definitely grounded in reality.
Adapted for TV by Charlie Covell and directed by series creator Jonathan Entwistle and Lucy Tcherniak), this series is perfectly executed on every level – music from the likes of Dinah Shore, Ricky Nelson and Dusty Springfield mixing with and against events onscreen in unique ways; cinematography capturing mood; the unreliable narrators that are James and Alyssa – resulting in what will be one of the best shows of 2018.
The End of The F***ing World is a British import, so we know that it will go to places that North American network TV (and a good many basic cable shows) would never go.
It’s invigorating and involving and totally bent. Just the thing to welcome in a new year.
Lawther and Bardem are sublime here. James and Alyssa’s relationship makes perfect sense – even as it goes in directions that you would think would make it completely wrong.
The End of The F***ing World is a study in contrast and contradiction and is blacker than pitch on every level. It’s a perfect eight-episode story that could and should never be continued – or remixed by another network.
You never expect such a perfect (yes, there’s that word again) gem no matter the source. When it happens, you should experience it – The End of F***ing World is one such gem.