The End of the F***ing World is a British dark comedy-drama television programme, based on a graphic novel of the same name by Charles Forsman. The eight-part programme premiered its first episode on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom on 24 October 2017, after which all eight episodes were released on All 4. Netflix handled international distribution and released it internationally on 5 January 2018. The programme follows James (Alex Lawther), a 17-year-old who believes himself to be a psychopath, and Alyssa (Jessica Barden), a rebellious classmate who sees in James a chance to escape from her tumultuous home life. Gemma Whelan, Wunmi Mosaku, Steve Oram, Christine Bottomley, Navin Chowdhry, Barry Ward and Naomi Ackie appear in supporting roles.
The series is based on Forsman's mini-comics The End of the Fucking World, which were collected into a book in 2013. Series creator Jonathan Entwistle contacted him about making a film, and a short was made in 2014. Instead, an eight-part serial was commissioned, with filming beginning in April 2017. It was written by Charlie Covell, and episodes were directed by Entwistle and Lucy Tcherniak. In August 2018, the programme was renewed for a second series, which premiered on Channel 4 on 4 November 2019, after which all eight episodes were released on All 4, and internationally on Netflix the next day. Covell stated before the second series' release that she does not intend to produce a third series for the programme.
The programme has been praised for its writing, execution and subject matter, as well as for Lawther's and Barden's performances. It was nominated for the 2018 British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series.
James is a 17-year-old who believes he is a psychopath. He kills animals as a hobby, but grows bored of the practice. He decides he wants to try killing a human. He settles on Alyssa, a mouthy, rebellious 17-year-old classmate with issues of her own. She proposes they run away together, hoping for an adventure away from her turbulent home-life, and James agrees with the intention of finding an opportunity to kill her. They embark on a road trip across England, and begin to develop a relationship after a series of mishaps.
Cast and characters
- Alex Lawther as James, a 17-year-old who believes he is a psychopath; the disturbed love interest of Alyssa. Jack Veal portrays a young James.
- Jessica Barden as Alyssa, a rebellious teenage girl. Initially James' intended victim but later his love interest. Holly Beechey portrays a young Alyssa.
- Gemma Whelan as DC Eunice Noon, Darego's police partner. (Series 1)
- Wunmi Mosaku as DC Teri Darego, Noon's stern police partner. (Series 1)
- Steve Oram as Phil, James' caring father.
- Christine Bottomley as Gwen, Alyssa's mother.
- Navin Chowdhry as Tony, Alyssa's abusive stepfather. (Series 1)
- Barry Ward as Leslie Foley, Alyssa's estranged drug-dealing father. (Series 1)
- Naomi Ackie as Bonnie, a love interest of Dr Clive Koch. She believes that James and Alyssa murdered Clive out of spite, and is determined to take revenge on the pair. (series 2)
- Kierston Wareing as Debbie, Leslie's ex-girlfriend with whom he has a child.
- Geoff Bell as Martin, a family man and creep who gives Alyssa and James a ride.
- Alex Sawyer as Topher, a young man Alyssa meets with whom she tries to have sex.
- Jonathan Aris as Dr. Clive Koch, an author, professor, serial killer and James' first human victim.
- Eileen Davies as Flora, Clive's mother.
- Earl Cave as Frodo, a miserable petrol station employee.
- Felicity Montagu as the manager of the petrol station.
- Alex Beckett as Jonno, one of Leslie's buyers.
- Leon Annor as Emil, an imposing store security guard whom Alyssa is caught by.
- Matt King as DC Eddie Onslow.
- Kelly Harrison as James' dead mother.
- Zerina Imsirovic as Alyssa's baby sister.
- Josh Dylan as Todd, Alyssa's husband. (series 2)
- Alexandria Riley as Leigh, Gwen's sister. (series 2)
- Florence Bell as Iggy. (series 2)
- Tim Key as Motel Owner, a man who tries to rape Bonnie, but she accidentally murders him. (series 2)
Series 1 (2017)
Series 2 (2019)
The series was based on the work of the same title by Charles Forsman. Originally self-published as a series of mini-comics, the series was published as a graphic novel by Fantagraphics Books in 2013. It was republished in hardback in 2017, in anticipation of the television series.
While Forsman was publishing the mini-comics, Jonathan Entwistle contacted him about adapting it to a visual format – the original idea was to make an American film, and later a web series was considered. A film was pitched to Film4, and Entwistle was given funding for a short. Made in 2014, it featured some cast and crew who continued their roles for the television series. Entwistle directed and Dominic Buchanan was producer; Jessica Barden played Alyssa. However, instead of Alex Lawther, James was played by Craig Roberts.
Though the short was well-received, no production companies wanted to invest in the idea as a full-length film. Entwistle and Buchanan decided to make a television series with Clerkenwell Films, following which Channel 4 and then Netflix became involved. Forsman had no official role in the show's production, wanting to continue working on his comics, though Entwistle would regularly consult him and keep him updated. In August 2018, Channel 4's director of programmes Ian Katz expressed frustration that many people think the programme is a Netflix original, saying that "it's absolutely a Channel 4 show".
The programme's plot differs from that of Forsman's comics. In print, the two kill a satanist serial killer, whose wife was a police officer; instead the television series features police officers Eunice Noon and Teri Darego, and does not show the serial killer to be a satanist. Another major difference is the ending of the graphic novel: the satanist police officer chases after James, and the two begin to attack each other, while police try to break up the fight. There is then a gunshot. In the final scene, Alyssa's mother talks about her daughter being safe from James, while Alyssa is seen carving the name "JAMES" into her arm. Some critics interpreted this to mean that James was dead, but Forsman sees the ending as ambiguous.
The first series covered the entirety of the storyline in Forsman's original comics. On 25 January 2018, Jonathan Entwistle spoke of the potential for a second series. He confirmed that "We're exploring and we're seeing what we can do to expand the world and see where we get to." Entwistle then went on to say that Netflix was enthusiastic about a second series of the show if one could be conceived. Writer Charlie Covell said "I think there are a number of stories we could tell" and that she would "love to write more". Actor Alex Lawther stated in an interview that he would be "very excited" about a second series, as it would give Covell "a chance to explore something from her imagination". A second series was announced on 21 August 2018 on the official Channel 4 Twitter account.
Covell stated in October 2019, before the second series' release, that she does not intend to produce a third series for the programme. Covell went on to say "I think, for me, that’s it now. Yeah, that’s done. I think to try and eke more out would be wrong, I like where we’ve left it."
The first series began filming in April 2017 and concluded a few weeks before the show's release in October 2017. Though filmed in England, the programme has an American tone to it; Entwistle was inspired by Twin Peaks and Fargo. Episodes were filmed largely in suburban areas and across Surrey, with locations such as Guildford bus station, The Square shopping centre in Camberley, Woking and Longcross Studios. There was also some scenes in Bracknell in Berkshire. Another filming location was Leysdown-on-Sea on the Isle of Sheppey. Entwistle uses mostly close-up shots, particularly in early episodes where most frames feature only one character. He uses this for deadpan humour, by moving from face to face to get shots of characters' reactions.
The series is set in the present day, but Entwistle aimed to make it feel like it could have been set "any time from 1988 to 2006". Additionally, diners have a 1970s-style design, and the soundtrack features songs from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, along with original music from Graham Coxon, the founding member of Blur. Entwistle describes Coxon's scores as "guitar-based suburban noir", and notes that more of his music is used in later episodes for the police officers.
The second series began filming in March 2019.
The eight-part programme premiered its first episode on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom on 24 October 2017, after which all eight episodes were released on All 4. The End of the F***ing World was a co-production with Netflix who exclusively released it internationally on 5 January 2018. On that weekend, sales of the graphic novel rose considerably, with Fantagraphics Books selling out of the current print run according to Forsman.
The second series premiered on Channel 4 on 4 November 2019, with two episodes being broadcast back-to-back daily until 7 November. The full series became available on All 4 after the Channel 4 premiere and internationally on Netflix the next day.
The End of the F***ing World currently holds an overall approval rating of 91% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes. The first series currently holds an approval rating of 96% based on 51 reviews, with an average rating of 8.38/10. The site's consensus states, "Misanthropy and humor blend perfectly in this romantically nihilistic show that proves that falling in love can feel like The End of the F***ing World." The second series currently holds an approval rating of 91% based on 23 reviews, with an average rating of 7.12/10.
Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned an overall score of 76 out of 100, based on 19 critics, indicating "generally favourable reviews". The first series currently holds a score of 81 out of 100, based on 12 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". The second series currently holds a score of 66 out of 100, based on 7 critics, indicating "generally favourable reviews".
Reviewer Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter lauded the programme's writing, characters, and soundtrack, as well as praising the performances of Alex Lawther and Jessica Barden, calling it a "pitch-black, eight-episode comedy gem of a UK import". Kelly Lawler of USA Today called it "batty fun", also praising Lawther and Barden's performances while praising the programme's surreal concept and execution.
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