THE END OF THE ****ING WORLD REVIEW

"I’m James. I’m 17. And I’m pretty sure that I’m a psychopath." A classic opening line from this new series, based on Charles Forsman’s graphic novel of the same name. We are warned from the outset that THE END OF THE ****ING WORLD features strong language, violence and distressing scenes. And it does.

THE END OF THE ****ING WORLD C4

In this episode we meet James, who indeed has displayed psychopathic tendencies since he was young. To be fair, he did have a disturbed childhood. His parents divorced and his father has been looking after James ever since. And with the standard of lame Dad jokes that James is subjected to, it’s probably not surprising that he has rebelled (albeit in a violent fashion).

When James was nine, he put his hand in a deep-fat fryer, “just to feel something”. When he was 15 he took a neighbour’s cat into the woods and calmly killed it with a knife. After that, he moved onto more animals, and we are treated to a shot of all the furred and winged animals he has slaughtered.

James is now after something bigger to kill, and it’s fortuitous that he meets Alyssa in the school canteen. They’re similar creatures in that they are both outsiders, and they’re both children of broken marriages.

Alyssa hasn’t seen her father since she was eight, although he does send her a birthday card each year which obviously makes up for everything that she’s lost. Alyssa’s mother has since married Tony, giving him twins. Alyssa admits that she loves the smell of the babies’ heads – it’s just a pity that Tony makes comments about her needing a bigger bra.

James sees Alyssa as a potential target – the images flash through his mind, his hand grasping a bloody knife, her body twitching on the floor. She sees him as just something better than what she has at the moment.

Alyssa finally decides that she has had enough after Tony lays a possessive hand on her hip at a family party, and her mother sees it all with a sad, resigned eye. She runs round to James’ house, and suggests that they run away. James hides the knife with which he was going to stab her, and agrees.

After they drive off into the unknown in James’ father’s car, Alyssa asks James if he’s scared. A little, yes, he says. Alyssa holds her chin up bravely. I’m not, she says. “She probably should have been”, James thinks.

I know that TV is subjective – one man’s University Challenge is another man’s TOWIE – but I just didn’t like this programme, and here’s why. Swearing should be like salt – a little can add flavour to a scene, too much makes it unpalatable – and this is overladen with profanities. The flashes of knives and blood are a little wearisome. However, Alex Lawther and Jessica Barden, who play James and Alyssa, bring a certain pathos and charm to their roles

2stars

- Aired on C4, October 24 2017 at 22:20.

Nicola Murphy

Comments are closed.