The End of the F***ing World review: Netflix’s blackly dark British comedy

The End of the F***ing World premiered back on E4 in the UK in October last year, the Channel 4/Netflix co-production was met with positive acclaim last year in Britain; now having gone onto Netflix worldwide, the show has now reached a more diverse audience.  Charlie Covell’s, Jonathan Entwistle’s & Lucy Tcherniak’s show deserved it. The End of the F***ing World is dark, violent, bleak, British, with a slight tinge of Wes Anderson, and brilliant.

James and Alyssa are two 17 year olds living in the South of England. They have nothing going on in their lives, and after deciding to become boyfriend and girlfriend, they decide to run away from home and make something of themselves. Only things start going horribly wrong. Based on the comic books by Charles Forman, the show lets these teen outsiders discover themselves and the real world.

 

Photo credit: End of the F***ing World/Netflix, Acquired via Netflix Media Center

Starring Alex Lawther as James and Jessica Barden as Alyssa, the show is wonderfully shot. The framing almost looks as though it could have come out of a Wes Anderson film.  The palette is saturated, almost as though every scene was shot on an overcast day with the bright colours significantly toned down. This is a bleak world, this is a teenagers world. They think the worst of their parents, the worst of everything, they do truly believe that it’s the end of the f***ing world.

There has been a recent trend in British comedy, where it has become quite indistinguishable from comedy across the Atlantic. The End of the F***ing World is proudly British. The cars, the locations, the type of people (with exceptions), are all staples of British culture. Yes, there are places where a phone box is in the middle of nowhere.

The violence is shocking, the dread is palpable, the swearing cuts through you like a knife. All of this wouldn’t really work without the two leads completely embodying James and Alyssa. THeir performances are fantastic. Seemingly confident, bold and abrasive Alyssa is vulnerable and loving; James wants to be a psychotic killer, but in fact he is quiet, meek and caring. Everyone has more than one layer, there is always something underneath the skin.

The coppers assigned to the case, Jemma Whelan (Game of Thrones) and Wunmi Mosaku (Black Mirror) have wonderful chemistry. Their investigation is built upon their assumptions of the teenagers. However right or wrong they are, their relationship is a welcome break from the dark downward journey of James and Alyssa.

This should not get a second series. Don’t get me wrong, I would live to see Alyssa and James again. But the ending is just so perfect, so in tune with the rest of the show, that it would be such a shame for anyone to shoehorn in a coda to their story. Because that is what happens when the world ends, anything following would be an afterthought.

The End of the F***ing World is a black look into the world of a teenager. It is so identifiable once you get past certain aspects, James and Alyssa are fantastic characters, with the Britain that they live in is somewhere I recommend revisiting.

The End of the F***ing World is out now on Netflix.
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