Dark, comical and unexpectedly poignant, Channel 4’s adaptation of the story of two unlikely teens on the run from normality, is a charming and edgy modern-day take on Bonnie and Clyde.
Based on Charlie Covell’s comic series, The End of the F***ing World, it is every bit a showcase of British teen culture. With blunt dialogue, mundane settings and an angsty indie-pop soundtrack, the eight-part series delves into world of youth plight and the realities of adolescence.
James (Alex Lawther), a 17-year-old with psychopathic tendencies, is looking for a victim to feed his murderous appetite. Alyssa (Jessica Barden), stubborn, foul mouthed and frustrated with just about everything, crosses paths with James at just the right time, giving him the opportunity to carry out his barbarous plan and giving her the perfect partner in crime.
As both characters force a relationship for their own gain, they are oblivious to the intentions that either party holds, creating a dramatically ironic and irresistible plot. This is accented with graphic visions of Alyssa’s bloodied corpse, fabricated by James, and whimsical hopes of escapism from the unassuming victim herself.
As the audience learn of the youngster’s unfortunate childhoods, it is easier to comprehend their twisted personalities. In episode 1, Alyssa’s bold and unrelenting callousness is hard to take, but as the show moves through events, Jessica Barden expertly lets glimpses of a vulnerable and troubled young girl show through the scathing exterior, making it increasingly difficult for James (and the audience) to lack sympathy.
With the unrelenting monotony of every-day life reaching a climax, the pair decide to leave town in search of pastures new, with the hope of finding Alyssa’s father.
Immediately the show launches into energy and rebellion, with the tempo of the rocky music matching the fast pace and recklessness of the pairs actions.
The scenes change from dull, vacuous shots inside houses, to sweeping angles of wide roads and countryside, further affirming the sense of freedom and illustrating the naïve notion that running away is the answer to all of life’s problems.
The illogicality of their plan is never explicitly challenged, until the pair find themselves out of their depth in the adult world. An innocent, carefree adventure soon lands them with blood on their hands, and shots of a grey police investigators office foreshadow James and Alyssa’s imminent fate.
However, the rampage continues. As events get darker still, and the couple fall deeper and deeper into trouble, a mutual understanding and love for one another blossoms from the mire of their transgressions.
The whole escape plan itself turns into an elaborate and dangerous game of house, with the players challenging how far the boundaries will go in their relationship, whilst oblivious to their impending doom.
As well as spending money on laserquest and drinking wine in broken into-homes, the decision to hide-out at a beach further resonates the youngster’s inability to grasp hold of real life and the consequences that shadow them.
It is on the beach that the pair are finally faced with the responsibility of their actions. It symbolises the end of their adventure, the end of James’ childhood, the end of a whirlwind romance, and, as Alyssa ironically states, ‘the end of the world’.Tweet