The End of the F***ing World is not Your Typical Outcast Teen Show
The End of the Fu***ing world stars Jessica Barden and Alex Lawther, who play two troubled teens, Alyssa and James respectively, who have emotionally damaging relationships with their parents. Attending grammar school in suburban England, both are outcasts and go through the world with genuine contempt for the people around them.
While this trope of the “social pariah” has long been featured in film and TV shows, The End of the Fu***ing World puts a darker spin on it.
While Alyssa is brash in her distaste for the world and for the people around her, James is introverted, and significantly more dangerous as a young man coming to terms with his obsession with killing.
Both coming from broken homes and pessimistic viewpoints, they become close friends, with an “us against the world mentality,” and set out on a quest for freedom from the society in which they feel trapped.
While James’s killing infatuation is rather off-putting, the show does draw attention to complex familial issues and their effects on children.
The poor, one-dimensional portrayal of adults in this show is initially polarizing, though as the show progresses, it becomes less so.
Alyssa’s mother, Gwen, for example, initially comes across as someone who neglects her daughter because she reminds her of a failed relationship, though later on the show this changes when we learn of how toxic Gwen’s relationship is with her husband, who is fueling her neglect towards her daughter. This, of course, doesn’t excuse Gwen’s actions, but it adds depth to her character.
As an audience, we get to see her internal conflict play out more clearly once Alyssa runs away with James.
Ultimately, Alyssa and James are solid characters, not caricatures. They are more complex than your average outcast teenager in a movie or show. Their characters are multidimensional and become increasingly so as the show continues.
In the first episode, when James and Alyssa meet, they have an abrupt introduction, where Alyssa is critical of his skating abilities. She comes across as blunt and rude, and James comes across as robotic and anti-social, which is of course standard for the “outcast” type.
After the two develop feelings for each other, they begin to become more complex and multidimensional, and they begin to understand the importance of relationships.
Alyssa and James only become more complex once they leave their depressed town and develop a strong bond with each other. They lose their initially flat personas and develop into exciting and compassionate characters, who genuinely care for one another.
The show is outright tristed and creepy, that cannot be ignored, but the creepiness only adds to the overall effect of the show on the viewer. That, coupled with the beauty of the film technique, makes this show worth a watch.