“The End of the F***ing World” should have ended at season one

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“The End of the F***ing World” is a British dark comedy that was released to Netflix on January 5th, 2018. The first season was a new take on a Bonnie and Clyde story. It followed the main character James (Alex Lawther), and his psychopathic tendencies. He runs away with a brash classmate who’s named Alyssa (Jessica Barden).
James puts up with Alyssa’s rudeness and runs away with her solely because he fantasizes about murdering her. His plan to kill Alyssa goes awry when they break into a college professor’s home while he’s gone. When the professor comes home to find Alyssa sleeping in his bed, he attempts to force himself on her. James proceeds to stab the professor in the neck, killing him, to protect Alyssa.
The teens spend the rest of the first season on the run from the law committing petty crimes and falling in love. James works on getting past his murderous urges and Alyssa works on being less disrespectful and rebellious. The season ends with the police finding the criminal couple and James running away from the police to protect Alyssa again. The final scene is James running down a barren beach, the camera cuts to Alyssa as a shot rings out and it fades to black.
The second season released to Netflix on November 5th, 2019, and it’s a completely different vibe from the dark suspenseful comedy that was the first season. It opens with what happened to Alyssa during the year after the entire incident ended. She moved with her family to her aunt’s house in the middle of the woods, got a job, and purposed to her simple boyfriend she met at her aunt’s café.
We are also clued in on the fact that the girlfriend, Bonnie (Naomi Ackie), of the professor James killed had a vendetta against Alyssa and James. It’s also revealed to the audience that James is still alive. He was actually shot at the end of season one but he didn’t die, he just had to relearn how to walk.
Alyssa finds out James is still alive and has been following her and ditches her wedding reception to run away with him. A series of unfortunate events unfolds; James and Alyssa pick up a hitchhiker who just happens to be Bonnie, Bonnie kills a motel owner, Alyssa and James ditch Bonnie outside of a pharmacy, Alyssa goes back home and divorces her husband, and Bonnie shows up to Alyssa’s job with a gun. Bonnie ends up not hurting anyone and Alyssa and James admit they love each other, but decide to take things slow.
From an outsider’s point of view, season two of “The End of the F***ing World” wasn’t bad. It is well shot, has good dialogue, and interesting characters. My issue with it is that it doesn’t do anything for the show overall. In comparison to season one, the second season was bland and uneventful. The characters didn’t have the same bombastic personalities and intrigue.
The entire vibe of the second season shifted completely. Not only did it focus more on Alyssa than James, but it lost all sense of the Bonnie and Clyde charm that it perfectly encapsulated in the first season. It felt as if they attempted to make the characters more real and likeable, which in turn lost most, if not all, parts of the show that were interesting. In season one we see James and Alyssa arguing and juxtaposing each other almost as if they were caricatures of the odd introvert and brash extrovert. While in season two, James comes off as a sad pushover and Alyssa comes off as just plain mean.
Even though the first season left off on a major cliff hanger, there was no reason for a second season. The suspenseful ending of season one perfectly matched the tone and intensity of season one. Even if the cliffhanger wasn’t resolved, the audience wouldn’t riot because it just felt complete. The ability to conjure up your own ending was perfect for an out there show that didn’t rely on telling you important parts of the story, but showing you them.
All in all, was the second season of “The End of the F***ing World” terrible? No. Did it add anything to the show and its concept overall? Also no. The addition of the second season doesn’t ruin the show, but it detracts from its overall cohesiveness and wouldn’t have been hurt without it. Even though the Bonnie and Clyde dynamic wasn’t killed with James as much of the audience thought when they assumed he died after the gunshot rang out at the end of the first season, it did die off along with a lot of the heart and intrigue of the show throughout season two.

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