Any viewer would be forgiven, if watching ‘The End of the F***ing World’ for the first time, for being a bit perplexed. A show which unashamedly presents a young girl in a wedding dress, a boy holding his father’s ashes in an urn and a teenager who carries a gun permanently down the front of her skirt, leaves many questions for those first-time viewers. But by no means has this ever been a negative for TEOTFW. The unexplainable chaos of this Channel 4 mini-series is exactly what proved so popular with fans upon first release in 2017, and exactly what (thankfully) continues to make the second season a must watch.
This new chapter, directed by Destiny Ekaragha and Lucy Forbes, is set two years on from the explosive ending of the previous season. The introduction of new character Bonnie in the first episode sets the tone for another cat-and-mouse type storyline, though this time through a brooding and slightly unnerving teenage girl set to avenge her lover. Alyssa and James lives have taken suitably random turns with Alyssa engaged to be married and James appearing alive, at the end of episode 2, before confirming ‘it was a fitting end, a perfect tragedy, a doomed love story, and then I didn’t die’. Clever twists and turns continue to define the show, its incredible unpredictability helping to set it out from other similar angst-driven teenage dramas.
Whilst the series does stick to a familiar formula of a series of completely unbelievable events, the plotline takes on an even more sinister undertone. Dark humour remains central, but so do certain issues including PTSD, grieving and the childhood trauma.
A new starry cast includes Josh Dylan, as Todd, and Naomi Ackie, playing Bonnie, who deserves a particular mention for her ability to match the tone of the programme with her at times comical and at times chilling performance. Ultimately though, it is the main characters of Alyssa and James, played by Jessica Barden and Alex Lawther respectively, who continue to outstandingly portray two very distinct characters whilst bringing major development to their previously more one-dimensional roles. Despite an internal monologue, the actors keep their characters awkward and completely unpredictable. Besides this barrier for the audience, a kind of warmth for such misfits remains.
Use of an eclectic soundtrack mixed with a retro and minimalist setting continues to make this programme unique in a way that other programmes fall short of in their concerns with relatability. Yet, despite this, the new series of TEOTFW develops too in this sense. New sides are shown to characters, fresh cast is introduced, and a deeper level is brought to a plot line which can seem completely farce like. In this way, the writers and directors have got this development spot on. Whilst viewers remain as uncomfortable and confused as ever, this series brings a new sense of connection to a story which often felt completely alien in series one.
This is surely not the end of this franchise, already competing for its status as cult staple. Yet, the beauty of James and Alyssa’s completely bizarre story is that we are never quite sure, perhaps the the fitting end is leaving us with more questions than answers.
Image Credit: Alec Berg Inc via Wikipedia