I had only intended to watch one episode of new comedy drama The End of the F***ing World on All4 but before I knew it I’d seen the entire series. I’ve been known to binge but never to this extent. I’ve never watched an entire series in one day. I felt an instant connection to the lead characters, which is a little worrying as one is a self proclaimed psycho and spends the first half of the series plotting the death of the other.
Our teenage leads here are James (Alex Lawther),a loner who lives with his ‘loser’ dad. He struggles with feeling emotion and fantasies about killing a human just to see how it feels. When he meets new girl Alyssa (Jessica Barden) he feels he’s stumbled across his first victim. Alyssa is bolshy, self assured and crude. The pair appear to rub each other up the wrong way initially but you soon start to realise the unlikely pairing might just be just what the other needs. Like James Alyssa has an unhappy homelife. Her mother has remarried after Alyssa’s beloved father left the family. Her mum has had twins and her stepdad is leary leaving Alyssa to feel she doesn’t belong. What makes the show, and the characters so engaging is the inclusion of Peep Show style inner monologues which serves to prove that their hard exteriors are hiding the lost and desperately upset people within.
Alyssa appears to gravitate to James aware he too is a loner and the two form an equally beneficial relationship. Alyssa needs someone to give her the attention she’s not getting from her homelife, whilst James is keen to kill his first human. Charlie Covell’s adaptation of Charles S. Forsman’s comic book sounds like it could be a downer as we watch these two horrid people on a journey together but as soon as Lawther and Barden join forces something magical happens, it’s a joy.
Their journey together begins properly when Alyssa convinces James to finally punch his dad in the face, take his car and ride off into the wilderness. That decision is the catalyst to a series of events that the pair find themselves in that I don’t wish to spoil for you here. Whilst the plot is incredibly exciting and the episodes move at brilliant pace, the reason I felt the need to keep binging is entirely down to Lawther and Barden who’s chemistry is infectious. The more I saw them together. the more I learnt about their characters, the more I sympathised and the more I wanted to spend time with them. Though aspects of their time together are harrowing you can’t help but root for them. I genuinely haven’t been this taken with a new show for a long long time and it seems almost criminal that a show of this calibre should be confined to an online streaming platform like All4. Luckily I have a platform I can use to to save me hiring a megaphone and fetching a ladder to proclaim my love for this from the nearest rooftop, but if you’re looking for something new, innovative led by two young voices than I can’t recommend this highly enough. It’s the story of two people looking for somewhere to belong who find it with each other. It’s a not a love story, but more of a first friendship and two people learning what it is to care for the other. It’s heartbreaking and emotional and you’ll come away forever bonded with the characters.
I’ve been guilty of late of bemoaning the lacklustre state of British comedy, and whilst this isn’t traditionally a comedy it does serve as proof that we have still unique voices writing in the genre. I could say a LOT to express how much I loved my time with the show but I’m conscious that the time you’re spending reading would ultimately be better spent watching this wonderful show. Go, go now!
- Other notes: Don’t be put off by the controversial title.
- Watch out for cameos by British comedy favourites Matt King & Felicity Montagu
- Christine Bottomley is brilliant as Alyssa’s mum whilst Navin Chowdhry proves he can play dirty as her leary stepfather.
The End of the F***ing World is available in its entirety now on All4 and will launch on Netflix in the new year in the USA.