REVIEW: End of the F**cking World
Directed by Jonathan Entwistle and Lucy Tcherniak
By Tristan Sherlock
The End of the F**king World, directed by Jonathan Entwistle and Lucy Tcherniak, is a wild ride.
Based off the comic book series of the same name by Charles S. Forman, The End of the F**king World is a dark, gritty, road trip comedy that follows James (Alex Lawther) and Alyssa (Jessica Barden) as they embark on a trip to get away from their small boring town. Alyssa is a brash, mouthy and rebellious teen who swears a lot and generally doesn’t care about anything. James, who believes he is a psychopath, wants to kill a human having grown bored of killing animals; Alyssa is that person. At least that’s what they tell us.
The End of the F**king World is unique in terms of its subject matter. This angst-ridden show doesn’t use the typical how-the-world-perceives-me story arc, instead its focus is on how-I-perceive-me. Even then it furthers itself from the cliché archetype and focuses on how the characters perceive themselves based on their own actions rather than based off the opinions of other characters. What makes the subject matter even more compelling and readily perceived is how bluntly it’s thrown at the audience. They don’t try to hide it in a pretentious message like a normal angst film or TV Show would.
The story is largely told from each character’s narrative point of view, providing a compelling level of bias. From the first episode, we’re given not-so-subtle hints that what they are telling us about themselves isn’t necessarily the truth. Throughout the seven remaining episodes the exposure of the characters’ true selves is hidden within their character development. What the audience sees is a growth of character, when a lot of it was present the entire time; it was just very quickly brushed over.
Alyssa is the main force behind the actions within the show. Very rarely does James commit to an action he presents, and even then, he almost never does present an action. Considering Alyssa’s actions play on James’ instincts that otherwise prove his original self-diagnosis wrong it’s understandable why this narrative precaution was made; I just wish Alyssa’s actions made for more entertaining plot points. It’s a pity that the actions James does make are what seem to cause the most extreme plot developments, and considering he rarely makes those the story moves quite slowly.
What’s most unfortunate is that the narrative couldn’t be told entirely through the point of view of James and Alyssa, which would’ve been a bold and daring move that could have paid off, if done well. However, the plot wouldn’t allow it due to it relying on other plot points in order for it to develop. Because of this, unnecessary sub plots are thrown into the narrative, which adds more screen time that is … boring. To top this off even within James and Alyssa’s narrative we’re subjected to far too many overly drawn out scenes that fail to build any suspense or mystery. It’s a good thing each episode is about 20 minutes long.
As for the plot itself, it isn’t really anything that special. Sure, the subject matter that The End of the F**king World tackles is unique but how it presents the subject matter is anything but. It’s your typical angst-ridden adventure. The characters want to get away, they do so, on their adventure something goes wrong that makes them question the trip et cetera, et cetera. Don’t get me wrong it’s done well but it has still been done before.
The dual narration is this comedies’ main source of humour. The dual narration often provides a humorous juxtaposition between the characters’ diverse thought processes and characterisations. The bluntness of the narration provides another level of humour and doesn’t subtilise how the characters respond to the events of their story.
For the most part, The End of the F**king World is an enjoyable and easy watch, despite some confronting scenes. However, there were way too many unavoidable necessities that seemed unnecessary. Too many drawn out scenes made each episode feel like they were 40 minutes long. The End of the F**king World would’ve made a better film than a series. But in saying that it was good.