Review: The End of the F***ing World - The cousin once removed to 13 Reasons Why

Find out why Ed Power gives the new Netflix series a 4/5.

Netflix’s new teen dramedy has been described as the cousin once removed to last year’s smash 13 Reasons Why. 

The success of that series, in which a high-school student outlines, from beyond the grave, the reasons for her suicide, was on a scale even Netflix was blindsided by.

Of course it was also enormously controversial, with censors in New Zealand going so far as to create a new ratings category specifically for the show (high school suicide rates in the country being among the highest in the developed world). But this did not put audiences off and 13 Reasons Why, which is to return for a second season, is seen as one of Netflix’s stand-out smashes in an uncertain year (during which the streaming service racked up flops such as Gypsy and Girlboss).

On the face of it, The End of the F***ing World is every bit as dark and troubling as its spiritual predecessor. The eight-parter, previously available through Channel 4’s on demand service but which now arrives in its entirety on Netflix, centres on anti-hero James (Alex Lather), a moany, wooly haired teenager who appears entirely archetypal — apart from the fact that he has longed, for as long as he can remember, to kill someone.

Enter Alyssa (Jessica Barden), a highly strung teen, who mistakes grumpy James for a bad-boy and potential love interest. The deal is sealed, as far as she is concerned, when he punches his father and steals the family car.

The story is adapted from the graphic novel by Charles Forsman and shares with the source material a cheerful indifference towards authenticity.The tone is almost self parodyingly bleak — and there are frequent lurches into black comedy, with the unlikely couple taking turns to deliver pithy narration.

To reveal any more would be to spoil the surprises (of which there are many). Suffice to say 13 Reasons Why fans yearning for further bittersweet diversions will find much here to chill and thrill.


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