The End of the F***ing World
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 End of the F***ing World|
|Based on||The End of the Fucking World|
by Charles Forsman
|Written by||Charlie Covell|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||16 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||19–24 minutes|
|Original release||24 October 2017 –|
4 November 2019
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's intended victim but later his love interest. Holly Beechey portrays a young Alyssa.
- Gemma Whelan as Eunice Noon, a detective constable and Darego's partner (series 1)
- Wunmi Mosaku as Teri Darego, a detective constable and Noon's stern partner (series 1)
- Steve Oram as Phil, James's 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 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 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 Eddie Onslow, a detective constable
- Kelly Harrison as James's 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 a motel owner, a man who tries to sexually assault Bonnie, but is accidentally killed by her (series 2)
|1||8||24 October 2017|
|2||8||4 November 2019|
Series 1 (2017)
|Episode||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||Episode 1||Jonathan Entwistle||Charlie Covell||24 October 2017|
|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 to whom Alyssa does not take kindly. 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, whom she has not seen since she was 8 years old; 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 their 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 off. 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 had 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 scene fades to black.|
Series 2 (2019)
|Episode||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|9||Episode 1||Lucy Forbes||Charlie Covell||4 November 2019|
|The character of Bonnie is introduced, and it is revealed that her cruel and overbearing mother drove her to anti-social behaviour. After she fails to get into university, she gets a job at the campus library and pretends she is a student. Bonnie develops an obsession with philosophy professor, Dr. Clive Koch, who discovers that she is not actually a student and bars her from his class. She then defiles a poster of him and his book, convincing Koch to allow her to attend his class again and the two soon begin a sexual relationship. After she shows up unexpectedly at his house one night and finds him with another female student, Koch lies and says the student was trying to ruin his life. In retaliation, Bonnie kills her. While in prison, Bonnie finds out that Koch is dead. Two years later, after being released from prison, Bonnie sets out to get revenge on Alyssa.|
|10||Episode 2||Lucy Forbes||Charlie Covell||4 November 2019|
|Alyssa, now 19, is getting married. After the events of the previous season, she was given a community service sentence for her crimes. Due to the reaction to her misadventures, Alyssa's mother Gwen sold their house and moved in with Alyssa's aunt Leigh in the country. Alyssa is given a job and meets Todd, whom she asks to marry. She receives a death threat in the mail that she does not take seriously. Over time, she notices that a mysterious red car has been following her, which belongs to James. Flashbacks reveal that James survived his gunshot wound at the end of the previous season, recovered over a long time in the hospital, was found innocent of murder, and given a suspended sentence for his other crimes. He is barred from seeing Alyssa and forced by Gwen to write a break up letter to her. After his father suddenly dies, James begins living in his father's car, holding on to his father's ashes. He receives a death threat in the mail and decides that he needs to ensure Alyssa is safe. He begins to watch her, and is happy to know she is doing well.|
|11||Episode 3||Lucy Forbes||Charlie Covell||4 November 2019|
|Alyssa is seemingly annoyed at seeing James again. They have a conversation about the bullets they both received, though Alyssa doesn't take the threat seriously. The next day, Alyssa marries Todd and James receives his fixed car. As he drives off, he is stopped by Alyssa who had ran away from the wedding. Whilst they have lunch, their car is taken away by a towing company. James is indecisive and struggles to find the right time to tell Alyssa that he still loves her. They steal James' car back and stop to pick up a hitchhiker, which turns out to be Bonnie.|
|12||Episode 4||Lucy Forbes||Charlie Covell||4 November 2019|
|Bonnie gets in the car after she surreptitiously punctures a tyre. When the car stops functioning, Alyssa and James call for a mechanic but when it turns out that the car cannot be fixed until morning Bonnie offers to pay for a room at the motel where they are stuck for all three of them and have the car serviced by the mechanic the next day. They drink and leave Bonnie and the motel owner alone. The motel owner visits Bonnie’s room in an attempt to have sex with her, however she threatens him a gunpoint. She accidentally drops the gun and kills the motel owner. Alyssa and James kiss and she asks him for time to think about it again.|
|13||Episode 5||Destiny Ekaragha||Charlie Covell||4 November 2019|
|14||Episode 6||Destiny Ekaragha||Charlie Covell||4 November 2019|
|Alyssa returns to her new husband to apologise and asks him for a divorce. As James' departs Alyssa’s town, he passes Bonnie headed in a car back towards Alyssa and realizes something is wrong with her story. James follows Bonnie's movements as Bonnie stalks Alyssa. When Bonnie enters the diner Alyssa works at, James breaks into Bonnie's car to discover a copy of Dr. Koch's book 'Existential Exit' just as Bonnie closes in on Alyssa for the kill.|
|15||Episode 7||Destiny Ekaragha||Charlie Covell||4 November 2019|
|Bonnie stalks Alyssa and arrives at the diner where she works. She talks awkwardly with Alyssa and waits for the last customer to leave. James, who is watching the two of them from outside, calls the police. Bonnie reveals to Alyssa her murderous intent and her desire to seek revenge. A police officer abruptly visits the diner after responding to James’s phone call, but leaves after not realising anything was amiss - however he notices Bonnie’s gun, and immediately alerts fellow authorities. Alyssa is left alone and Bonnie finds James hiding in the kitchen. She captures the two, but after hearing the backstory, she decides to kill herself instead. James and Alyssa tackle and incapacitate her as the police arrive.|
|16||Episode 8||Destiny Ekaragha||Charlie Covell||4 November 2019|
|Whilst James finishes his statement at the police station, Alyssa returns to Koch's home. James meets her there and together, they reflect on their shared experiences there. James scatters his father's ashes at the underpass where his father and his mother met. They eat lunch together and confess their feelings for one another, before holding hands and saying "I love you."|
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 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.
|2018||British Academy Television Awards||Best Drama Series||Nominated|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour)||Nominated|
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