A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love teen dramas
Themes & Topics
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