New series has more than meets the eye


Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Veronica Yaron

Netflix underwent a series of changes since its founding in 1997, evolving from an online Blockbuster to an on-demand streaming service. Yet, its biggest revolution was the introduction of its  Netflix Originals in 2013, and since then the site has distributed over 500 self-commissioned hits – and misses.

I like to believe I have a fairly good eye on what will  flop, and when I saw the advertisement for their new original, “End of the F***ing World,” I rolled my eyes to the back of my skull over how cliche it sounded. Based off the comic of the same name by Charles S. Forsman, I believed I would binge watch the typical boy meets girl story, the main twist surely to be banking on the toxic romanticization of falling in love with a psychopath. Three hours later, I realized how wrong I was, and could not stop praising the dark “dramedy” to anyone who would listen to me at 3 a.m..

Based in England, the series focuses on two teenagers, self-diagnosed psychopath James played by Alex Lawther and rebel-without-a-cause Alyssa, played by Jessica Barden. At the beginning, viewers see James frequently playing out the tropes of a blossoming serial killer: lack of empathy, setting fires and killing animals. Determined to move on to bigger prey, he uses his high school as a hunting ground, locking eyes on Alyssa, his volatile classmate determined to leave her verbally abusive stepfather and compliant mother.

Like any good killer, James begins to plot, entering a fast paced and apathetic relationship with Alyssa in order to gain her trust and fulfill his homicidal tendencies. As he runs away from home with her 48 hours into dating, he unexpectedly ends up punching his dad to steal a car and embarking on a Bonnie and Clyde-esque adventure that’s more thrilling than any of the other Hollywood attempts.

To my surprise and entertainment, James’ character does not play out like the infamously charming Ted Bundy, who easily brought lambs to the slaughter, but rather as a sidekick to his domineering girlfriend. The couple’s dynamic is the true twist of the show; viewers witness Alyssa unknowingly dodging all of James’ murder attempts throughout the eight-part series that spans across England in search of Alyssa’s absentee father and a place for the couple to call their own.

In a series that could have easily centered around a mediocre teenagers-against-the-world plot, “End of the F***ing World” manages to delve into more layers of emotional depth in 22-minute increments than Nicholas Sparks has in his entire career.