"I thought she could be interesting to kill" - James, episode 1
With an audacious, truthful script that continues throughout, we're taken through the narrative by the internal monologues of leads James and Alyssa, played by Alex Lawther and Jessica Barden
As strikingly contrasting characters, Alyssa is an outgoing, rebellious teen who's fed up of a society obsessed on external validations and a complicated home life. James, on the other hand, is introverted and desensitised to emotional connections or engagement in social interaction. Most prominently, he's methodically been killing animals for the past years, and now wants to move this fascination to people.
The two run away with very different motives, but of course things deviate from what they intended to happen.
The events of the series unfold within the timescale of approximately a week, but don’t doubt that the show isn't filled with action, mischief, and daring moments, with plenty of emotional turmoil and the social ineptitude that most teens encounter and struggle through.
What I found most striking about the series, however, was the cinematography. The beautiful shots glossed with vintage tones, the setting's dated decor and the use of old cars gave the show an age of authenticity, all while painting a beautiful yet barren England in the height of British summer.
The open expanses, fern green forests, and settings like the school, a suburban neighbourhood and diner weaved into the show American imagery and settings. This contrasted eclectically with the rough and raw lead characters - with Alyssa's ballsy attitude and James' psychological health issues. The show seemed to be putting its middle finger up to the stereotypical character tropes so often seen in many Hollywood teen-drama characters.
A downside of the series is the script sometimes seems to try too hard at being outgoing and edgey just for the sake of it, leaving the actors with inorganic lines that weren't necessary for their development or the story.
The actors handled this well though, and still shone as their respective characters. In particular Jessica Barden’s brash and abrasive delivery of Alyssa portrayed a beautifully confident teen girl who outwardly seemed not to care what the world thought of her, and could take control of any situation thrown her way. However, underneath this ballsy exterior, Barden weaved in a current of vulnerability and emotional instability that is the underpinning of Alyssa that makes the character so dynamic, while remaining utterly relatable to most teens and young adults.
Overall, I'd give The End of the F**king World a 4.0 out of 5. It's a dynamic watch that challenges stereotypical character tropes, with an engaging plot and a laugh out loud script.
The short series is great for an evening binge, with eight 20 minute episodes that can easily be blasted through with friends or a partner.
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