A Murder, Two Car Jackings and A Chugged Gallon of Milk: "The End of the F***ing World" Review and Commentary (#spoilers)

By: Glenna Aldag and Anna Kushner
Anna “I stayed up until two in the morning finishing this show the first time I watched it.”
Glenna “I tried multi-tasking the first time I watched it. It so didn’t work, the show is too engaging.”
“The End of the F***ing World” or TEOTFW is a British, dark, situational comedy-drama that originally aired on Channel 4 in the UK. It was later adopted by Netflix and released for international viewing in January 2018.
TEOTFW, is based off of the graphic novel of the same name by Charles Foresman and follows the lives of two outcast teenagers, James and Alyssa. Alyssa is a teenager whose outward demeanor is that of a cold, hard person who doesn’t need other people in her life. James on the other hand, is a self-diagnosed psychopath.
Upon meeting Alyssa, he decides she would be that perfect specimen for his first human kill. After Alyssa becomes fed up with her distressing home life, she runs away with James and together they embark on an absurd adventure to find Alyssa’s absentee father.
Along the way, they encounter multiple people and challenges that causes them to both grow as people and grow closer together.
This 8 episode series is an emotional rollercoaster ride that will leave you laughing, crying and oddly refreshed with the originality of the content. In general, it can be described as “Wes Anderson meets Quentin Tarantino in the form of a coming-of-age Bonnie and Clyde story.”
The following is commentary regarding the show, specifically its complexities, moral conflict and overarching themes: *Warning there are spoilers*
What events in the story helped James and Alyssa grow?
Anna: Alyssa’s dad being as disappointing as he was, it was very real, it made the story more relatable. Throughout the show you’re glorifying him in your head, and he doesn’t turn out the way you think he should. And everyone can relate to that… the whole silver lining was for Alyssa having James. For Alyssa it was that, the person she was looking for this whole time was her dad, but the real person who cares about her and has taken on this “stereotypical manly protective figure” in her life, is James.
Glenna: It’s not even necessarily the manly figure, it’s just having someone that she feels legitimately cares about her, especially since she feels like she has been betrayed by her mom.
How do you feel the minor characters show different sides of the main characters?
Anna: Minor characters were honestly the highlight of the show. Because each show has a few minor characters that really bring out different sides of these major characters that you, as a viewer, really want to understand more. The security guard character, Emil, is the most important minor character because he shows that not every guy is horrible.
Glenna: Every other guy that Alyssa has known in her life has used her, or wanted something from her. But he’s like, “I don’t want you. I don’t really want to exploit you. I just want you to learn from your mistakes and face the consequences of your actions.” It shows Alyssa that not everyone in the world is bad and out to get you. It shows that there are still good people, good strangers for that matter.
Anna: Frodo is also so relatable, when he says “I don’t like my life,” you think, me too dude, me too.” Everyone can relate to having a crap job with a horrible boss and just wanting to lock them in the bathroom and chug a gallon of milk while flipping them off.
What do you think about the representation of having two female gay cops?
Glenna: I am extremely happy about that as the queer in this discussion. Portraying Teri in a pessimistic and negative way shows something more realistic, and it made Teri’s sexual-orientation much more of a secondary characteristic. It made it more normal. It didn’t make her gayness the forefront of her role in the the show and the entire basis of her presence. It made her into a normal human.
Anna: Anyone can be a jerk regardless of sexual-orientation.
How does James’s and Alyssa’s relationship change through the plot of the show?
Anna: After the episode where they kill Clive, Alyssa sees James as a monster. She looks at him with fear, and he realises that he never wants to cause this girl fear. He realizes he wants to protect her the same way she protects him. It’s really an insight into his personality. Because as much as I hate episode 5, where they’re separated, it’s really necessary for both of their story arcs.
Glenna: In that episode, they also both realize why they make each other better and why they are important to each other. It’s both of them realizing that they are human and that they need other people, because they start out the series feeling that they don’t need anybody. They think that they can make it on their own, that they don’t need that kind of social connection. Then in episode 5, with that whole transition, they realize “I’m a human being that’s allowed to have feelings.”
How does the show portray the difference between rape and consent?
Anna: Topher is really important because he brings to light another important message throughout the show which is consent. Because with him, Alyssa is like “Let’s go have sex in a strangers house,” and then is all like “Actually nevermind, don’t want to,” and he’s mad but he doesn’t force himself on her. I think that’s a really important moment. The show, with Alyssa specifically, does a really good job of showing that it’s okay to want sex one minute and not want it the next. Even later James shows that when Alyssa is all, “I want to wait” and he is okay with it because he respects her. He respects her as a woman and respects her choices regarding her body, which is something we need to see more on in the entertainment industry. Consent is a huge overlying theme of the show, especially with the murder being a product of self-defence from a serial rapist.
How do you feel the music amplifies the show?
Anna: If you really listen to the soundtrack, it’s either music with very somber tones and uplifting messages, or they’re very uplifting tunes with very somber messages. That juxtaposition is really interesting.
Glenna: The entire soundtrack relates really well to the story line, especially the somber and uplifting juxtaposition. While the show is extremely funny, you end up laughing out of shock more than anything else. The show really deals with some serious themes, and the soundtrack really accentuates that whole aspect of the show.