Review: it's 'the end' of the world, and you'll know it


The return of the acclaimed British Netflix series "The End of the F***ing World" finds enough mojo khổng lồ continue its story.

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The best and most helpful thing khổng lồ take inlớn the second season of Netflix and Channel 4’s breakout seriesThe End of the F***ing World is that it can’t be as great as the first season because almost nothing can.

That’s helpful, but it’s also a starting point for a debate about whether Netflix should have done a second season in the first place for a show that was based on a graphic novel by Charles Forsman (written for TV by Charlie Covell) that ended rather perfectly where the comic ended: Two 17-year-old teenage runaway delinquents, Alyssa (Jessica Barden) and James (Alex Lawther), have sầu come lớn the kết thúc of the world, literally, at the ocean, their way forward (given what’s behind them) completely murky but definitely bad, và James makes a dash down the beach to lớn keep Alyssa out of trouble from the pursuing police. A shot rings out. Fade lớn blaông xã.

The Bottom LineStill pretty great.
AIR DATE Nov 05, 2019

It was an excellent, out-of-nowhere series that broke a ton of rules about what usually works in television và succeeded because it was skilled and audacious at breaking them. On top of that, few episodes ever reached the 18-minute mark, containing within them more story & character than plenty of hourlong dramas. It was a real tour de force: The performances of Lawther và Barden were excellent, and Covell’s choices in the writing & how to bring the book khổng lồ life were spot-on.

Well, here we are with all the secrets lost — Netflix did bring baông chồng the show for a second season, trusting Covell to come up with a story và in the process deciding that the ambiguity surrounding whether James lived or died on that beach would have lớn be explained (và the key art for the new season is all the spoiler that you needed, even though the streamer curiously và hilariously asked reviewers not to spoil that; comments from all involved with the show & the production of it pretty much makes that moot as well).

Which is fine, really. Once the decision was made khổng lồ do a second season and the overriding rule of what would make it work — having Alyssa & James be together in some khung — was decided, all that was left was to lớn not fall too short of the high-water mark that season one mix.

The good news is that season two of The End of the F***ing World stays true khổng lồ the vibe of the first season, has a decently good but not great story & manages, by the kết thúc of the final episode (of eight in total), lớn have sầu righted most of the wrongs that came before it.


And yes, there are some missteps. The voiceover triông xã that worked so brilliantly the first time around even when it shouldn’t have (voiceovers are death to drama and lazy, for the most part), not surprisingly, is less effective và sometimes egregious this time out. But then again, when it matches the magic of the first season it’s a thing of beauty. And there are some pacing issues, as Alyssa’s struggles with overcoming PTSD frequently come off as her being petulant or mean và prolonged bouts of that highlight that there’s not a ton of plot here. Perhaps most troubling, one of the later episodes uses a visual cheat that should never have been allowed (grumble, grumble), particularly because its jarring inclusion seems cheap & isn’t truly believable anyway.

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That said, the better parts are more frequent than the lacking parts; it’s a pleasure lớn have sầu James and Alyssa bachồng in viewers’ lives, no matter how damaged they are.

And they are. That’s one of two key themes this year. The other is the introduction of Bonnie (Naomi Ackie), who drives the plot in season two because (and this is decently clever) she was in love sầu with Dr. Clive sầu Koch (Jonathan Aris), whom you might better remember as the existentiadanh mục author whose house Alyssa and James break into in season one and who happens khổng lồ be a serial killer.

Bonnie is… not well. And Bonnie is very, very annoyed when she finds out two rogue teenagers have killed her lover (though, clearly, she doesn’t really know what he was doing in his miễn phí time).

For the most part, the writing still has the same style và zing that was evident in season one. Like when Alyssa, in the first of her lengthy forays inlớn being irritated with everyone around her says, “Being shit runs in my family. It’s in my blood.” Or when James says, “On paper, things looked quite bleak for me. I was a homeless orphan on the run with a married woman.”

Covell also does an excellent job of having all the characters use the word “okay” in various ways with various inflections & meanings.

But the truth is nobody is really okay in The End of the F***ing World because there’s too much grief & shoông chồng &, well, bad deeds (& bad parenting) khổng lồ overcome.

“For a while now, I don’t think I’ve sầu been properly in my toàn thân,” Alyssa says, and the audience has understood this about her long before she’s come to lớn the realization herself, mostly because we saw it in her trembling lips and her water-filled eyes even when she was awful or petulant lớn someone near her (another excellent performance from Barden).

Lawther also is reliably excellent & conveys grief, confusion and, yes, some joy, in equally revelatory ways. Ackie is equally sure-handed in making Bonnie a compelling compilation of damaged, naive, sad and lethal.

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Ultimately, there’s not as much material or story here as in the first season, nor the same amount of magic, but only the former could really have sầu been fixed. It would have sầu been nearly impossible to lớn top season one. The question now, for Netflix & for Channel 4, is whether there’s more story here. Probably not, since season two ends on a fine note, but we said that about season one and look what happened.

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