The End of the F***ing World
By Emily Ashby,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Dark dramedy raises talking points for mature teens.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
A mixed bag: Romanticizes the notion of teen angst and rebellion by putting James and Alyssa in potentially dangerous situations with little realistic consequence, but also explores complex emotional state of adolescence and importance of relating to people in meaningful ways. Even though both characters struggle with psychological troubles, they find some relief and camaraderie in each other's company.
Positive Role Models
Neither James nor Alyssa could be considered a positive role model, given their earnest disregard for basic human decency at times, but each becomes what the other needs most as the story progresses. Adults in their lives tend to disappoint them even when they try to be involved. In some cases, those adults are the reason for the teens' unhappiness.
Violence & Scariness
As James fantasizes about killing Alyssa, viewers see it play out in scenes that flash between reality and the bloody act he ponders. He also talks about his murderous desires and describes killings of animals he's done in the past, with victims shown. In one scene he punches his dad; in another he burns his hand in a fry vat. An actual murder occurs and it is bloody. James is sexually molested by an older man in a restroom, while Alyssa is nearly raped.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief shots of James masturbating. Alyssa is obsessed with sex to a degree that physical acts often come up in conversation. James calls her a nymphomaniac, and she occasionally asks for him to perform oral sex and other acts on her. She attempts oral sex on James but he does not respond. The teens also watch porn in a hotel room but are detached from the experience. Alyssa initiates sex with a stranger but does not complete the act.
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Everything goes, including "f--k" in all its forms, "s--t," "bulls--t," and "damn." Name-calling like "d--khead," "bitch," and "c--t" as well.
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Products & Purchases
The series is inspired by a comic book of the same name.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Rarely adults drink and/or smoke. Alyssa's stepfather gives her a beer.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The End of the F***ing World is a dark dramedy based on Charles Forsman's 2013 graphic novel. It centers on two emotionally isolated teens, James and Alyssa (Alex Lawther and Jessica Barden), who connect and run away together, all while one plots the other's murder. While there's little violence in real time, James' fantasies play out in brief clips that show Alyssa stabbed and bleeding, and he often lurks near her with a knife poised. Language is also an issue; Alyssa in particular uses words like "f--k," "s--t," "c--t," and "d--khead" regularly. The teens also often talk about sex, so expect mention of masturbation, oral sex (she calls it "eating a p---y"), and other physical acts, but little is actually shown. The teens' rebelliousness (and James' infatuation with killing in particular) is glorified rather than vilified, with surprisingly comic results. This show is iffy for most teens, but if you watch with yours, use its themes to talk about bullying and emotional health.
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The End of the F***ing World
Based on 23 parent reviews
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Funny if you think killing your dog or cat is okay.
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What's the Story?
Self-described teen psychopath James (Alex Lawther) and his rebellious classmate Alyssa (Jessica Barden) take off on an impromptu cross-country trip to escape their dull lives and to find Alyssa's dad in THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD. While the novelty of their adventure quickly wears off, the duo determines to see it through, taking drastic and often illegal steps to keep on the move. As Alyssa reflects on events of her past that brought her to this point, James' focus remains on the future and his secret plan for Alyssa's eventual murder.
Is It Any Good?
This dark series casts a loner teen as a methodical would-be killer of his irksome and fiery companion, but that does surprisingly little to distract from its comedic effect. While it's difficult to say that James and Alyssa are likable characters, they're almost instantly sympathetic, despite (or perhaps because of?) their utter contempt for what they consider their meaningless lives and the people in them. The show's narrative style gives viewers insight into both teens' innermost feelings, which is a good thing because both are people of few words. By piecing together what they say, what they think, and what they recall in flashback scenes, viewers slowly develop a full sense of these two complex teens and, more importantly, what draws them to each other.
The End of the F***ing World, which is based on Charles Forsman's 2013 graphic novel, is much more than a Thelma and Louise story for the teen set. In fact, given the often mature content, its appropriateness for teens is questionable at best. It's a masterfully calculated and morbid dysfunctional love story in which you find yourself heavily -- and somewhat guiltily, given the contemptible nature of the star-crossed lovers -- invested in surprisingly little time. If the weighty angst, pervasive language, and murder-in-the-making elements aren't too much for your teen, the series also raises some important topics you can discuss afterward, including emotional wellness and isolation, bullying, and healthy ways of dealing with stress.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how The End of the F***ing World portrays teens and their struggles. Are James and Alyssa believable characters in their feelings about their families and lives? Do they attempt to deal with what weighs on their minds, or is their attitude one of escape instead? What are some more constructive ways of coping?
What role do adults have in this story? What do you think adults' roles in teens' lives should be? Teens: Are the adults in your life privy to your moods and feelings? If not, to whom do you turn when you have to deal with something difficult?
Would you describe James and Alyssa as particularly courageous? Why or why not? What positive attributes does each have? Are they redeemable characters?
- Premiere date: January 5, 2018
- Cast: Jessica Barden, Alex Lawther, Steve Oram
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters, History
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: March 4, 2023
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