The End of the F***ing World
|The End of the F***ing World|
Title card from the premiere episode
|Based on||The End of the Fucking World
by Charles S. Forsman
|Written by||Charlie Covell|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||8 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||19–22 minutes|
|Original release||24 October 2017|
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. It was a co-production with Netflix, who 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.
The show 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. A second series has not been announced, though Entwistle, Covell and Lawther have all commented on the possibility of one.
The programme has been met with critical acclaim, and has been praised for its writing, execution and subject matter, as well as for Lawther 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.
- Wunmi Mosaku as DC Teri Darego, Noon's stern police partner.
- Steve Oram as Phil, James' caring father.
- Christine Bottomley as Gwen, Alyssa's mother.
- Navin Chowdhry as Tony, Alyssa's abusive stepfather.
- Barry Ward as Leslie Foley, Alyssa's estranged drug-dealing father.
- 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 and attempts to engage in sexual activity with.
- 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-stepsister.
|No.||Episode||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||Episode 1||Jonathan Entwistle||Charlie Covell||24 October 2017[a]|
|James is a 17-year-old who believes he is a psychopath, having once intentionally burned his hand in a deep fryer in order to feel something, and has been killing animals since he was 8 years old. At school, he encounters Alyssa, a rebellious new schoolmate and decides that he will kill her next. He gets closer to her by feigning romantic interest and the two start dating. When Alyssa asks James to perform cunnilingus on her the next day, he begins preparing his knife and working out how he will kill her. However she arrives late as she was stuck at a party at her house where her stepfather tells her how it will be better if she just left. After this incident, she reaches James's home later than planned, and blurts out her desire to leave town with or without him and asks if he is in, wanting him to say yes. Resolving that he could kill her later, he accepts and steals his father Phil's car and punches him in the face, something he has always wanted to do.|
|2||Episode 2||Jonathan Entwistle||Charlie Covell||24 October 2017|
|With their newfound freedom, Alyssa and James go play laser tag but end up having to dine and dash at a restaurant after realising they have spent all their money. After crashing their car, they hitchhike in the van of Martin, a middle-aged man who Alyssa does not take kindly to. While in the toilets of the restaurant they have stopped at for food, Martin follows James and asks about his burnt hand, before smelling it and putting it on his crotch; James is submissive, despite being disgusted by it. Alyssa sees this and blackmails Martin into giving her his wallet. After booking a hotel room, Alyssa goes to the bathroom and cries, while James waits with his knife by the door, hesitantly. He does not try to kill her. Alyssa calls home and her stepfather Tony answers. He denies her request to speak to her mother, Gwen, implying his dominance over her mother. Alyssa asks James whether he wants her or just goes along with her; he replies that he wants her. She decides to go see her biological father, Leslie, who she has not seen since she was 8 years old and James agrees to join her.|
|3||Episode 3||Jonathan Entwistle||Charlie Covell||24 October 2017|
|After leaving the hotel, Alyssa argues against buying train tickets to her father's house, internally fearing that he will not recognise or welcome her. The duo break into the spacious and empty house of author Clive Koch. Later that day, Alyssa attempts to give James a blowjob but leaves, angrily, when a picture of Koch puts him off. During her walk, Alyssa meets Topher and brings him to the house, vindictively announcing to James that she will have sex with Topher. Distraught, he looks around the house and finds Polaroids and a camcorder with footage of victims, revealing Koch to be a serial rapist. Meanwhile, Alyssa becomes disinterested in Topher and stops before intercourse. Topher leaves angrily. While Alyssa is asleep, James tries to kill her, but he cannot because he knows he is falling in love with her. Koch returns home and suspecting a break-in, arms himself; James hides under the bed. When Koch questions Alyssa upon finding her in bed, she lies and says she is alone. Koch becomes malevolent, attempting to rape her. James stabs him in the neck with a knife, killing Koch, and saving Alyssa.|
|4||Episode 4||Jonathan Entwistle||Charlie Covell||24 October 2017|
|After unsuccessfully trying to move Koch's body out of the bedroom, James and Alyssa meticulously clean the house to remove evidence of their stay. James shows Alyssa the Polaroids and footage proving that Koch might have hurt her, and they resolve to leave the evidence by his body. James hides the knife in the pool drain. When she questions him about the knife, he does not answer. Koch's mother, Flora, arrives at the house and discovers his body; she destroys the Polaroids but not the footage. The police, led by detective constables Eunice Noon and Teri Darego, investigate and later question Topher where he reveals Alyssa's and James's identity and presence at the house. They decide to put out a request for sightings or crimes "involving two teenagers" while putting Alyssa and James on the Missing Persons list. Despite James's attempts, Alyssa becomes distrustful of him and deserts him. He begins to realise the increasing influence of his emotions. Paying a group of teenagers to beat him up, he also realises his growing interest in her. James decides to report a murder to police, coming to the realization that he is not in fact a psychopath.|
|5||Episode 5||Jonathan Entwistle & Lucy Tcherniak||Charlie Covell||24 October 2017|
|At the police station, James changes his mind about reporting Koch's murder and instead describes his mother's suicide as the "murder" he was referring to. In a flashback, his mother, Vanessa, killed herself in front of him eleven years before by driving her car into a pond. Thinking of Alyssa, James leaves the police station and returns to the cafe. Meanwhile, Phil is questioned by Noon and Darego about James, as well as informed about his car. He also confirms the inclusion of Alyssa. They also question Tony, who is rather nonchalant and self-absorbed, before moving to Gwen about Alyssa. Concurrently, Alyssa is caught by Emil, a security officer, while attempting to shoplift clean underwear, but is eventually let go. She returns to the cafe to find James waiting. Although without money, both reconcile and decide to go to Leslie. Meanwhile, investigators find James's knife at Koch's house.|
|6||Episode 6||Lucy Tcherniak||Charlie Covell||24 October 2017|
|James hotwires a car and the duo begin making their way to Alyssa's father's house. They stop at a petrol station after running low on fuel. When Jocelyn, the petrol station manager, begins suspecting that they stole the car and have no money, James fakes carrying a gun to lock her in the toilet with the help of Jocelyn's co-worker, Frodo. However, when he wants to join, they wait until he is distracted to dash. Noon and Donaghue question Flora again about Clive, this time with years-old accusations of sexual assault against him. She rejects the allegations as lies and insists that the two leave. On their way to Leslie's, Alyssa calls Gwen and tells her that she will never return home. At the police station, Flora gives Noon the camcorder, having a change of heart. When Noon raises the possibility that the killing was in self-defence, Darego says that this would result in a count of manslaughter instead. After finding Leslie has moved out of his previous home, James and Alyssa eventually make it to his coastside mobile home.|
|7||Episode 7||Lucy Tcherniak||Charlie Covell||24 October 2017|
|James gives Alyssa and Leslie space while they reconcile with each other. Leslie is revealed to be a drug dealer, as well as a non-conforming individual himself. Meanwhile, Tony, Gwen and Phil are emotionally shaken after being shown CCTV footage of the petrol station robbery. Both Darego and Noon plan for the police to stakeout Leslie's former residence, assuming that both have not arrived. On the drive to Leslie's former residence, it becomes clear that Darego's law-abiding morality and stubbornness are clashing against Noon's open-minded and sympathetic morals. As Alyssa and Leslie reconnect at a nearby bar, James begins feeling distant to Alyssa. At Leslie's former residence, Debbie denies seeing the duo or knowing Leslie's whereabouts to Noon and Darego. She goes to the bar to demand support for their illegitimate son, Milton. When questioned by Alyssa, Leslie takes off in his truck, running over a dog in the process. Although he has killed many animals before, James is unable to euthanise it with a rock; Alyssa does it instead. Bitter, Debbie reveals to Noon Leslie's location, later, and she drives there without Darego. Leslie sees a news report about Alyssa and James on the television.|
|8||Episode 8||Lucy Tcherniak||Charlie Covell||24 October 2017|
|James and Alyssa bury the dog at the beach, then passionately and sincerely make out. At dawn, ruminating about their current situation, they decide to take the boat owned by Leslie and leave the country. When they ask Leslie for the boat keys, he reveals to them his knowledge of their crime then secretly calls 999 and tries to induce their confession. James deduces this and confesses while taking the blame upon himself. Noon, listening in, arrives at the scene and tries to convince both to be willingly arrested for manslaughter while Leslie tries to convince Alyssa to let James be arrested instead. Alyssa asks Noon if she were to go with her idea, would James and her still be together. When Noon tells that that would be unlikely, Alyssa knocks her out with Leslie's shotgun, takes his boat keys and runs to the boat with James, only to find that the tide had gone out. With the police armed response unit closing in, James knocks Alyssa down with the gun in an attempt to take all the blame and runs across the beach. In a voiceover, James claims that he has realized what people mean to each other. A gunshot is heard as the episode then fades to black.|
- The first episode had a special premiere on Channel 4 alongside its release on All 4 with the rest of the programme.
The series was based on the work of the same name 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.
The programme's plot differs from that of Forsman's comics. In print, the children 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 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 Woking, Bracknell and Longcross Studios. 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 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" for a second series, as it would give Covell "a chance to explore something from her imagination".
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 End of the F***ing World' currently holds an approval rating of 98% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 41 reviews, with an average rating of 8.21/10. 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." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 81 out of 100, based on 11 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
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 U.K. 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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