Feb 28, 2018

[TV] The End of the F***cking World: Season 1 Review

Netflix has become an interesting channel for legally gaining access to various British television shows. Sure we get the odd one here or there through a cross-licensing deal with other cable networks active in the region, but for the most part it's been very difficult to watcch British shows.

The End of the F***ing World is yet another example of a great British show that has managed to get worldwide recognition because Netflix has pushed it out to its global audience. And I'm forever thankful for that given it's just the sort of quirky weird show that I like. The story feels like it has a sort of Wes Anderson style vibe bit with more violence and less camera pans.

The trailers for this show had intrigued me but I was also a little worried that I wouldn't be able to truly get into it. But I'm super glad that I was wrong about this and the twists and turns of this relatively short show makes for great television indeed.

I want more.

Synopsis: The End of the F***cking World is a British dark comedy drama series as written by Charles Forsman as based on his graphic novel of the same name. As of the time of this blog post, the 8-part serial has not yet been confirmed for a second season. The show was released on the All 4 in the UK while Netflix had the global distribution rights outside of the UK.

James (Alex Lawther) is a 17 year old psychopath, or at least he thinks he's one. He has killed small animals as a bit of a hobby but he has now set his sights on Alyssa (Jessica Barden) as his possible first human victim. But Alyssa is no happy little girl as she has more than her share of problems and complications. She's pretty tough but despite their differing forms of social awkwardness, the two become friends.

And while James continues to think about killing Alyssa, the two misfits get along well enough. Then things change when events lead to Alyssa asking James to just run away from their families and all the problems that come with their respetive domestic situations. And thus the two drive off without a real destination in mind.

What I Liked: The young actors Lawther and Barden are pretty impressive and they deliver quite the powerful portrayal of two young people not really knowing what to do with their lives and so they wing it as best as they can. This not about star-crossed lovers nor does it try to depict young love as it's not even clear that's how one could describe the relationship between them. It's reckless and wild but also clever and fascinating and it would not have been the same without these young stars.

The show had other surprise talents involved, as is often the case with most entertaining coming out of the UK. And thus we get Gemma Whelan has a thoughtful detective instead of one of the Ironborn of Game of Thrones fame along with Wummi Musaku as her partner instead of another disturbing character from Black Mirror. They made for an interesting police tandem with very different views on the case - views that go well beyond just playing good cop and bad cop.

There's a lot of careful thought in this series and it shows in every single episode.

What Could Have Been Better: The show can be a little unforgiving in terms of trying to present the narrative with all the extra bits in. And thus you get a lot of characters who are really more archetype than actual people and they just interact with the pair in this or that part of their journey. These kids did have parents who are part of the reason why they end up leaving home but I also sort of wish we knew more about them or say what they were going through while the two were away. But I suppose not showing them is an indirect part of their characteriszation - stressing that they don't matter to these kids.

The pacing of the show has a few moments that felt off - like the story slowed down unnecessarily just because that's how it was in the comic or maybe it took longer to depict  the comic scene in the TV series. It's not a perfeclt fluid narrative but the cuts and transitions between scenes weren't all that clever at times. But this is a minor point.

TL;DR: The End of the F***king World is a very smart series with a good story to tell and a rather fresh way of telling it. It's thoughtful at times and then jarring in spurts and so many other things in-between. I liked it a lot and thus this first (and hopefully not the last) season gets 5 unexpected acts of violence but different characters out of a possible 5.

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