Netflix’s latest coming of age, black comedy, End Of The F***ing World is definitely an interesting watch, but tows the line between quirky, coming of age romance and just plain weird drama.
The plot of this aptly-named show follows two teenage psychopaths: James and Alyssa on a whirlwind adventure, that starts pretty tamely, when they steal the car of James’ father, before it escalates into a suspenseful and wildly intriguing thriller. Despite a change in pace, the show consistently maintains an endearing black comedy feeling throughout.
The show primarily follows the antics of James, played by Alex Lawther of Black Mirror fame, and Alyssa, played by Jessica Barden; an Indie film regular, and former child Corrie star. The two are highly fascinating protagonists, who often toe the line between quirky and just plain weird. James is plagued by his traumatic childhood memories, and this is a recurring factor in shaping his actions throughout the eight episodes. Alyssa, on the other hand is a slightly less psychotic character; albeit she is still very strange, who seems to resent her seemingly normal family-life. The thing she desires the most, is a relationship with her estranged father, Leslie (Barry Ward). Her desire to find him is pivotal in shaping her behaviour throughout the show. The two other main characters are detectives Eunice Noon (Gemma Whelan) and Teri Darego (Wunmi Mosaku), who debut mid-season, once the show really begins to pick up. The two characters have a very entertaining dynamic, based on an awkward one-night stand that casts a shadow over their professional lives. None of the characters are typical leads, and this is one of the shows strengths.
In terms of the plot, the show starts off quite slow; it introduces us to James and Alyssa, gives insights into their lives, and begins to develop a relationship between the two outcasts. It doesn’t really pick up until the end of episode three, which ultimately becomes a game changer. For those interested in the interaction between people, it’s an endearing start, introducing the viewers to two characters, who are very clearly meant for each other, purely because nobody else would ever have them. Yet for viewers who are swayed towards more high-octane drama and suspense; the beginning of the show does not offer a great deal.
By episode four however, the stakes have been raised significantly, and there is now a plot and characters worth caring about. James and Alyssa are not any less weird, and by this point, you’ll probably either have a bizarre attachment to them, or will want them to be caught out for what they’ve done. Whatever your feelings, you’ll want to keep watching, as the story only continues to pick up. By the time, it reaches its climax in episode eight, you may even be sad that its all over, or you may be grateful for its end.
Thematically, the show covers a variety of topics, ranging from childhood abandonment, mental health, and sexual assault. Yet, it is these dark themes that play a vital part in the black humour that has had made the show quite so popular. And that is debatably the most interesting thing about it; it’s ability to convey such dark themes in such a light-hearted, coming of age kind of way.
Overall, End Of The F***ing World will not be everyone’s cup of tea; it’s dark, it’s daring, but in a weird, almost unexplainable way and it’s also very sweet. Whilst James and Alyssa are not the most conventional of characters, you will likely find yourself rooting for them, irrespective of the sticky situations they find themselves in.