The End Of The F***ing World is one of Netflix’s latest successes. Based on the graphic Novel by Charles Forsman, this series is about an unusual -- and absolutely fascinating -- love story between the two protagonists James and Alyssa. They're both very particular teenagers, but that's not the only reason why this series is so interesting -- it also explores how the most normal-looking families can actually be the saddest ones, and how they can psychologically damage the protagonists to the point of running away.
“I’m James. At the age of 17 I was pretty sure I was a psychopath.”
James introduces himself as a textbook psychopath, who has no sense of humour or the capacity to feel, something that pushed him to put his hand in the fryer when he was a young boy. He started killing animals around the age of thirteen which is a common symptom that suggests the hunter may eventually be violent to things other than animals. His mother killed herself in front of him when he was a child, traumatizing him and totally taking his lively personality away. He tells us since the start that he finds his dad distasteful and how bad he would like to kill something “bigger.”
And then there's Alyssa, whose family is just as much problematic: her biological father left when she was just a child, and after that her mother married a man who doesn’t get along with Aly at all.
She's a young girl who does not like her ordinary neighborhood which she finds boring. She wants to fully live her life with exciting adventures, and since her friends do nothing but use the internet all the time, she decides it's time to make new acquaintances.
That's what motivates her to talk to James for the first time. She approaches him by being quite rude, and the way she behaves as she introduces herself to James makes him think she would be interesting to kill. She's different.
And so they start seeing each other. Their conversations are awkward. James is cold and aloof, and Alyssa behaves pretty much like a nymphomaniac.
The way the protagonists are introduced and how they approach other people point out how weird they are. Their relationship at the start probably made James uncomfortable; she was trying to make him open up and get to know him, but all James thought about was killing her.
Some days later, Alyssa loses it after having a not-so-pleasant talk with her stepfather and goes to James’s house, asking him if he would run away with her. He accepts, thinking that would lead him to the perfect occasion to finally kill her. This is the start of a fascinating character development for both of them.
The trip has many complications going from the car accident at the start of their run away to the pedophiles they meet on their way. The police start looking for both of them, and every episode they're closer to catching the two bandits. Luckily enough James and Alyssa had each other's back. Indeed, when James was sexually assaulted, Alyssa went to him right in time, and, after the man who gave them a ride let James’s hand go, she compelled him to give them his wallet. A scene that showed what a strong character she is. Similarly, when Alyssa was about to get raped, James was there to stab the pedophile (who had raped and murdered kids in the past) in the neck.
And so after being saved by her, after cuddling her in a motel room, after dancing with her to the music beat (“As a rule I didn't dance, but it was hard to say no to Alyssa”) and after saving her life, James was certain he didn't want to kill her anymore. Being with Alyssa had started to make him feel things, and he didn't like it at first, but with time he understood he would never want to lose her.
And just as noticeable is Alyssa's development. Before getting raped, she and James had a fight and she was about to sleep with another a guy as a sort of revenge, but she changed her mind. Maybe because she felt sorry for James, and perhaps also because he was who she wanted. I call this character development because she went from being nymphomaniacal to thinking about who she really wants to have sex with.
And so James started being more open about dating her, but as he started getting closer to her, she started being afraid of him. Both because he killed someone and because she knew he carried his knife along with him all the time. This is why she then abandoned him in a bar. As soon as he realized that she left he felt totally lost and frustrated and felt the need to let his pain out. That's another bittersweet taste of his development: from psychopath to young man in love. James apparently understands he is not really psychopathic at all. He pays some guys to hit him and then he cries, maybe because he wasn’t used to feeling that way and that was the only way he knew to go through pain. It was touching to see him lying down, blood coming out of his nose, and tears coming out of his eyes. He understood how much he actually cared about Alyssa.
And after being separated for a couple days or so, she realizes she misses him too. Coincidentally, they both go to the bar where they'd been together before she went away. When they meet, she says, “I won't let leave you again,” and they hold hands.
They now had an aim, somewhere to go to: Alyssa’s biological dad’s house. Thus they steal a car, steal gasoline from a gas station because they're out of money, and drive all their way to her dad’s.
Once they get there, it looks like Alyssa’s dream has come true: she found her dad (and he's so cool), her boyfriend is with her, and she's away from her mother and stepfather. Everything is fun and games until she finds out that her father had another child and that he wasn't the one who had written birthday letters she'd been receiving for years.
Hurt and upset, Alyssa decides she doesn't want to stay with her dad anymore, and she's supported by James.
As they try to take the keys to Aly’s dad’s boat, the police find them, and James sacrifices himself for Alyssa. He tells her to say he kidnapped her and that he committed the murder. And so, while carrying a gun, he runs away while Alyssa shouts and begs him to stop.
After running away together they both took their masks off. James went from being uncomfortable when it came too sex and human contact to willingly kissing her first! He no longer cares about killing, but instead cares more about being happy with Alyssa. More fundamentally, he cares about Alyssa being happy to the point where he is willing to sacrifice himself for her. That’s big progress for someone who claimed not to be able to feel.
And Alyssa wants to be with James. To live a life where her parents’ mistakes won't make her feel like something's wrong with her. She's not that interested in mere sex anymore, she wants her real love and happiness.
Guns start firing at James in order to stop him from running away, but he keeps running in order to look like he's the guilty one.
“I’ve just turned 18, and I think I understand what people mean to each other."
This tv series was touching, deep, and fascinating. The character developments the protagonists go through are well done, the acting is great, and the soundtrack is perfect just like the palette of colors which is warm and artistic.
I personally believe it is one of Netflix’s best works.
Comics lover & writer.