Arts & Entertainment Editor
Zoom in to a somber boy, sitting uncomfortably on his bed. “I’m James. I’m 17. And I’m pretty sure I’m a psychopath.”
“The End of the F***ing World,” one of the newest Netflix originals, opens with this line, making the viewer cling to the question: what will happen next? As it does from the beginning, the rest of the show, starring British actors Alex Lawther as James and Jessica Barden as Alyssa, acts like an addictive book, which makes sense considering the show is based on Charles Forsman’s comic book, “The End of the F***ing World.”
James is an animal-killing teenager who placed his hand into a fryer when he was nine, so he could feel something, while Alyssa is an angsty teen from a mixed-family, who only wants to be loved. They meet in high school as 17-year-olds, eventually finding themselves on an adventure filled with crime, upset and self-learning.
Each episode is only 18 to 22 minutes long, with a total of eight episodes in the first season. Though the show talks about serious life experiences – suicide, an abusive stepdad and murder – “The End of the F***ing World” turns every issue into dark humor. The contrast of grim subjects and comedy showcases enjoyably candid moments.
One of the most standout parts of the show is the character development. Like a book, James and Alyssa start as certain people and evolve as the episodes continue.
At first, Alyssa plays an obnoxious character, with a crude and bossy attitude. For many viewers, Alyssa played the angry woman trope, but as she starts to dip into her past, her vulnerable side is revealed. If a viewer can get past the first few episodes, they will understand Alyssa as more than a trope, but a smart and dynamic character.
James is a quintessential psychopath who lacks social skills and suffers from sudden flashbacks of killing animals and visions of murdering people. Yet, circumstances turn his feelings inside out.
Unlike many shows, the adults lacked acting skills in comparison to Lawther and Barden. However, most of the show is focused on them, making this an easy part to overlook. Yet, the lesbian detectives played by Gemma Whelan and Wunmi Mosaku are redeeming adult roles, that have their own back-and-forth subplot.
Besides the characters, the show used creative filming styles and dialogue.
The various odd angles, zoomed-in facial shots and ground shots added personality to the show. Yet, in stark contrast to the professional filming, any bloody and gory scenes are used in more of a playful and unrealistic way.
“The End of the F***ing World” also used a lot of internal dialogue to explain characters’ emotions, which could become irritating for some viewers. Many shows use internal dialogue, but this dark comedy had more than usual.
Some of the dialogue is short, like when Alyssa thinks in episode one, “I’m not saying he’s the answer, but he’s something.” Then, there are humorous times when the odd duo think in unison, “f**k.” Other times, either James or Alyssa have semi-faux profound moments about their unbelievable circumstances.
Comparable to other comedies like “Weeds” or “Shameless,” most of the reality for the characters is not much like reality. Everything is artificial, but in a fun way. For some viewers, this could be a turn-off, but it is important to remember the story was taken from a comic book.
In consolation to that, viewers may love that “The End of the F***king World” acts like a book in the way that it leaves each episode off with a cliffhanger, especially during the season finale.
Since the show premiered Jan. 5, it is hard to say whether the show will be picked up again for a second season. However, where the season did end off was also where Forsman’s comic ended. Another season would be separate and new, potentially risking viewers who read the comic beforehand.
The quirky coming-of-age story should peak the interest of many high schoolers that have similar feelings as the characters, or really anyone that feels misplaced in the world. It is an easy watch and a perfect binge-worthy show, taking up only a few hours of a lazy day. So, sit back and laugh, because it is “The End of the F***ing World.”