Angsty Teens And Black Humor On Netflix: “The End…”

Warning: May include spoilers from season one of the Netflix series The End of the ******* World.

By Rebecca Robins

Netflix is known for its binge-worthy TV shows, including Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black, and 13 Reasons Why, which have all received impressive scores on the popular site Rotten Tomatoes. For the angsty teens that have finished these shows and are looking for something else to binge, The End of the ******* World (TEOTFW) takes interesting spin on the traditional romantic comedy by adding black comedy. This style makes light of subjects that have generally been labeled as dark or grotesque.

Relatively faithful to the original comic book by Charles Forsman, The End of the ******** World shows a dark and compelling journey of adolescent self-discovery. Alyssa, a self-destructive, attention-deprived seventeen-year-old girl crosses paths with the uncaring psychopath James. In the first episode, the show feels awkward and choppy due to the characters’ personalities clashing. The loner attitude of these characters portrays how they would rather get to know themselves than others.

Both of these teenagers feel immovable from their boring British school and town. Alyssa feels the most stuck and believes that James will be a way out of her non-extraordinary life, describing her life as, “… everything is suddenly really simple. Like everything shifts in a moment. And you step out of your body, out of your life. You step out and see where you are really clearly.” The need for Alyssa’s getaway causes James to follow along on an adventure-filled road trip throughout England. The story grows and develops, much like a real relationship.

Alex Lawther as James and Jessica Barden as Alyssa. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

Vanity Fair’s Julie Miller writes that Alyssa may be the best teen heroine of 2018. Throughout the show, Alyssa proves this with a carefree attitude. She does not follow basic trends and wants to be her own person. By smashing her phone in the first few minutes of the pilot, she makes a bold statement against the phone-addicted teenagers around her. She has some obvious problems that even James acknowledges, like cursing out a waitress, or her constant stealing throughout the season. In the show, James says, “I was never Alyssa’s protector. She was mine.” Strong female empowerment has become a greater theme in television and movies recently. Alyssa’s character is strong enough to not depend on anyone. She knows what she wants, and nothing will stop her from getting it.

However, my sister Charlotte Robins (‘12) disagrees with the “hero” title for Alyssa: “I would call her an anti-hero. She has zero respect for any kind of authority and is very self-indulgent, but you really don’t have a choice but to root for her.” Since this show is only eight 20-minutes episodes, there aren’t many characters to view as a hero.

Throughout this show, James was more prevalent due to his quickly developing character. In a way, he outshines Alyssa. In order to see more of her, the series would need another season.

TEOTFW poster. Image courtesy of Netflix.

Much of the internet is unsure about a season two but feels that the cliffhanger ending of the first set up perfectly for another season. In an interview, show creator Jonathan Entwistle states, “I think it’s an interesting conversation, and it’s one that we’ve been having at great length since the show kind of took off, really. And literally, I get a thousand messages a day on social media about whether there’s going to be a Season 2 or not. And I just think that it’s… We’re exploring and we’re seeing what we can do to expand the world and see where we get to. But we conceived the show as, in a way, as a movie; a movie in structure. And I think that that is something we’re going to have to expand if we want a bigger story.”

This confusing statement has viewers waiting patiently at the edge of their seats. For those who would like positive news of season two, Entwistle also says that he wants to keep a focus on main characters James and Alyssa. James Geho (’18) hopes for a second season, “to see them end up together because I’m a hopeless romantic.” Robins feels passionately against a second season: “With its two hour run time, The End of the ******* World plays out like a movie, and it’s honestly hard to imagine any continuation of the show. It’s sadly perfect.”

About the author

Senior at Collegiate School