Sunday, 14 January 2018

Boxset Binge #9 - The End of the F***ing World

Adapted from the indie comic series of the same name by Charles S. Forsman the series follows 17 year old James (Alex Lawther) who believes he’s a psychopath and fellow classmate Alyssa (Jessica Barden) who has her own issues including a problematic home life which includes being sexually harassed by her stepfather. Wanting to escape their problems the pair set out on a spontaneous road trip / crime spree.

Switching between it’s two leads who take turn to narrate the story its clear from the start that both James and Alyssa are outsiders. James more obviously as he keeps to himself while observing his fellow students as he attempts to find the perfect victim to evolve his growing psychotic tendances which thanks to some Wes Anderson style framing (which sadly isn't carried past the pilot episode) we see has until now been restrained to various animals. Alyssa on the other side of things feels that she can’t connect with anyone around her as her so called friends want to talk to each other through text messages even when they are sitting across from each other. Equally with her explosive temper and general Don’t give a shit attitude especially with her mother seemingly more focused on living her life of domestic bliss to seemingly notice anything that’s happening with her daughter.

Thrown together the series initially is more focused on wether James will kill Alyssa or not, especially as his every other thought early on seems to be having fantasies of him killing her, but surprisingly its once the series moves past this and focuses instead on these two lost souls finding themselves through each other that the story really starts to find it’s grove with the pair finding themselves soon on the run from the law after a run in with an actual psychopath end messily.

Both Lawther and Barden are great as the leads and really manage to make this unlikely relationship work though the character of James does suffer from being at times limited especially for the first half of the series were he’s essentially limited to his psychotic fantasies and while his character is more redeemed in the second half of the series especially when we find out more about his troubled past. Alyssa however remains a fun and feisty character throughout especially when she’s seemingly unable to find any situation she can’t find someone to fallout with or to subject to her wrath.

Outside of the pairs Bonnie and Clyde antics, the show receives strong support from an interesting mix of characters in particular Gemma Whelan and Wunmi Mosaku as the detectives trying to track down James and Alyssa, while dealing with their own relationship being strained by a misguided advance but like everything in this series nothing should be taken on first impressions and this is certainly the case here as well and to watch them evolve over the course of the series only makes the world more believable as characters are given ample time to be fleshed out into multi-level characters rather than just being included to give a sense of tension to James and Alyssa’s journey.

Certainly this is one of the more unique series of last year it went largely unnoticed despite receiving a strong advertising push. Recently though the series got picked up by Netflix which is possibly the platform that it needs, especially as this fast paced black comedy is still worth discovering.

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