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“The End of the F***ing World” - You Won’t Want It to End

By Lindsey DeRoche; A&E Editor
On February 11, 2018

At this point in history, the motifs of “boy meets girl” and teenage love have been rehashed to what often seems like exhaustion. Romantic comedies have been reusing the same kinds of storylines for awhile now. So, of course, when something unconventionally effective and entertaining comes along in the same vein, television fans rejoice. This is the case with one of the newer Netflix shows “The End of the F***ing World.”

“The End of the F***ing World” is a British series that has been available to viewers in the United Kingdom since 2017. However, on January 5, Netflix launched the show for international streaming. The show is a screenplay adaptation of the original graphic novel by Charles S. Forsman.

The series is relatively short--only eight episodes long, with each episode clocking in at not much more than 20 minutes. But it’s not only the length of the series that makes watching it fly by; it’s how fresh, hilarious, and movingly human it is.

“The End of the F***ing World” stars James (played by Alex Lawther) and Alyssa (played by Jessica Barden), two teenagers coming of age in suburban England. James is convinced that he is a psychopath, and claims not to feel anything. Viewers learn this during his introductory voice over. He tells the audience that he detests school because it is “beneath him,” but he sees it as a environment rich with potential victims.

This sounds dark, and it is. However, the seemingly violent trappings of James’ inner world are balanced out by Alyssa, a classmate with a crush on him. Alyssa is a blunt, outrageously outspoken and seemingly-confident young woman. The way she gets James’ attention in the first place is by approaching him in the cafeteria, and telling him that she has seen his skateboarding skills, and that he is “pretty s**t.” This sounds romantic already, right? Of course not, and that is part of what makes this show so brilliant.

The two quickly form a relationship of sorts. This works for James, because he claims that Alyssa might be nice choice for a victim. It works for Alyssa because she is lonely, trying to find her place in the world and says in one of her voice overs that James “might be someone she can fall in love with.”

The dynamic between these two characters sounds heinous at face value, but it’s not in action. While James is supposed to be a “psychopath,” it quickly becomes obvious that he’s trying to convince himself of this, and that it’s not the truth. Normally, you’d think someone trying to convince themselves that they’re a psychopath would be the dominant one in a relationship, probably even cruel. This could not be farther from the case.

Alyssa is constantly bombarding James, as well as everyone around her, with gut-busting one-liners, hilarious dry humor and a wide variety of expletives. She is not only a strong female character; she is undoubtedly the one in control within the relationship. And it is Alyssa who makes James struggle with wanting to be a psychopath and dealing with pesky human emotions again.

The trope of running away in a coming of age story is used in this series, but not in the conventional sense. James and Alyssa’s adventure on the road is anything but ordinary. They are running away, but while they do, they are also dealing with the problems at hand in their lives. Issues such as troubled relationships/estrangement with parents, loss, trauma and simply finding out who you truly are and what life is really like are all prevalent themes as the duo “finds themselves” on the run.

While tastefully teetering between the serious and heartbreaking, as well as the outrageous and comical, Netflix certainly made the right decision by picking up one of the freshest and most endearing coming of age stories in quite some time. Stream “The End of the F***ing World” now.





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