“The End of the F***ing World” is an unexpectedly dark delight. Full of cataclysmic moments of wit, violence and despair, set alight with a charming emotional intimacy beautifully embodied by characters more real than most, this comic-book-come-alive is a timely addition to Netflix’s family of idiosyncratically successful originals.
Based on the comic book by Charles S. Forsman, “The End of the F***ing World” follows self-proclaimed psychopath James and society’s cuss-savvy rebel Alyssa as they embark on an off-the-cuff road trip to find her estranged father — a journey that combines Bonnie and Clyde-esque adventures, captivatingly real relationships and deliberate ferociousness.
This eight-episode series earns itself the “binge-worthy” badge in the first five minutes of episode one. From the time James (played by Alex Lawther) says, “I’m James. I’m 17, and I’m pretty sure I’m a psychopath,” “The End of the F***ing World” has you in the backseat of speeding car — high stakes crime sprees mixed in with authentically awkward moments of teenagehood and emotional downturns calling shotgun.
Barden and Lawther are responsible for the show’s pit stop moments of glory, fleshing out their much younger characters with a quirky and at times raw believability that prompts viewers to remember time and time again that James and Alyssa do not exist outside of the comic book and Netflix universe. From his puzzling micro-expressions to his bottomless stare offs into space, Lawther is especially talented in manifesting a psychologically questionable enigma while Barden shines in her effortless emotional transitions when misery hits the fan.
While James and Alyssa cause havoc around the country, the secondary characters back them up with surprising amounts relevancy that showcases this show’s talent for point-blank brutality. Wunmi Mosaku and Gemma Whelan’s dynamic as DC Teri Darego and DC Eunice Noon prove to be “The End of the F***ing World’s” next best duo, adding more intrigue to the show’s already unconventional personality department, all the while earning brownie points for its inclusion of what Alyssa points out as “a really broad spectrum these days.”
Mix in an explosion of off-the-wall relationships, cruelty and quotable moments of clarity, and you have yourself “The End of the F***ing World”—a nihilistic tragedy coming of age tale that will leave you thinking for days. This show is an unstoppable force of consequences led by compelling characters unaware that they hopped on a ride with no breaks and a date with misfortune. Its international feel — not necessarily the accents — and absence of superfluous teenage angst is a much desired bonus. “The End of the F***ing World,” similar to the equally dark and quirky “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore,” holds at its core a relevancy, a symphony of silently shared thoughts of those seeking change and belongingness in a world with inconsistent definitions of what is right.
Good day or bad day, Netflix’s “The End of the F***ing World” is worth every minute of your time.