NETFLIX premiered END OF THE F****ING WORLD on Friday night. The show has been critically acclaimed, it is receiving up to a 98% approval rate online..
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Reviews are in..
Written by Charlie Covell and directed by Jonathan Entwistle, The End of the F***ing World takes more unexpected narrative turns as it goes on, and that makes it worth watching, assuming you can muscle your way through the accompanying gloom and occasional gore. Both Lawther and Barden have a capacity to go from deadpan to deeply agitated in an instant, and those shifts become more compelling the more you watch. Another point in The End of the F***ing World’s favor: No episode is longer than 22 minutes, which means you can fly through the whole series in half an afternoon. Brevity has so much value in an oversaturated binge-watching market.
“The End of the F***ing World,” a TV series that premiered Friday on Netflix, joins a growing number of shows exploring the fringes of adolescent tumult. Among them: “Riverdale” (The CW), which plunged the gang from Archie Comics into a noir murder mystery; “Runaways” (Hulu), in which a group of high schoolers balance everyday angst with a friend’s death and burgeoning superpowers; and “13 Reasons Why” (Netflix), a teen suicide drama that made waves last year in schools and families.
Even “Stranger Things,” Netflix’s sci-fi series set in the 1980s, tapped into the trend by pitting a group of prepubescent children against a horror from another realm.
Maybe it’s due to an evolution of teen storytelling tropes, a reflection of uncertainty and anxiety in the real world, or an effort by producers to match the mind-set of young viewers who have already seen it all on the internet—but the genre is processing harsher stuff than the high-school crushes and crises that typified “Sixteen Candles” and other hormone-steeped classics of past generations.
Entwistle imbues The End of the F***ing World with an ambiguously retro vibe, and one that’s geographically indistinct. The series is set in England, in an unspecified town outside London, but the film has a notably American aesthetic, which the script winks at (“If this were a film,” Alyssa says at one point, “we’d probably be American”). On their journey, James and Alyssa drive through wooded landscapes and vast open roads, emulating classic heist films like Natural Born Killers. They break into a house that’s a masterpiece in mid-century modern design, in the middle of nowhere. When they decide to change their appearances, Alyssa raids a thrift store and finds a baby-doll dress for herself and a Hawaiian shirt for James, adding to the offbeat visual overtones, and both teenagers have smashed their cellphones, which amps up the analog feel of the show. The accompanying music, which includes original songs written by Blur’s Graham Coxon, adds emotional texture and a kind of wistfulness to the story.
Although the series has other fine performances, including Gemma Whelan and Wunmi Mosaku as two detectives on the couple's trail, The End hinges on the two tremendous lead performances. Barden, so bloody good as Justine in the third season of Penny Dreadful, is a tart-tongued delight, quickly locating the vulnerability beneath Alyssa's thick skin and making both sides of the character vulgar and funny. Lawther gets to have a more straight-forward arc and takes James from deeply internalized and troubled and lets him bloom, in strange ways. Could you remake this with Aubrey Plaza and McLovin'? Sure. Should you? No. Lawther and Barden's strange chemistry is theirs alone and makes this thing work.