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January’s Hot and Streamy: The End of the F***ing World on Netflix

Welcome back to Hot and Streamy! For you new visitors, this is a monthly dive into the lesser-known shows and movies streaming on all of your favorite platforms. The goal is to uncover hidden gems buried throughout the millions of hours of video on Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, and any other streaming providers. Unfortunately for me, I won’t know what’s good until I’ve wasted a few hours of my life. Fortunately for you, that’s a sacrifice that I’m willing to make.

In my eyes, something either IS or IS NOT worth watching. It is for that reason that these reviews will be completely binary. Either it’s Hot and Streamy Sax ? and you should watch it, or it’s a Streaming Pile of Poo ? and you should skip it.  Without further ado, enjoy the January 2018 installment of Hot and Streamy.

THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD

What is it? – Half coming-of-age tale, half pitch black rom-com, and another half dry, British sitcom. We meet Alyssa (Jessica Barden), a high school loner and product of a broken home, and James (Alex Lawther), a self-diagnosed sociopath who tortures wild animals and dreams of punching his single father in the face. A chance lunchroom encounter pairs them off; Alyssa finds herself a new and “different” boyfriend while James scouts his first human murder victim.

Who made it? Based on the short film written and directed by Jonathon Entwistle (how British can a name be?), which was based on the graphic novel by Charles Forsman, which was likely based on a really bad dream based on an undiagnosed childhood trauma.  Entwistle directed alongside Lucy Tchenriak. It’s also worth mentioning that Graham Coxon of Blur wrote a good deal of the excellent original music used in the show.

Where can I find it? All eight of the twenty minute episodes originally aired on Britain’s Channel 4, but my fellow Americans can catch it on Netflix as of January 5th, 2018.

It seems as though this series is starting to pick up critical steam, though I can’t say I quite understand why. It’s black and dry enough to end up in a naughty kid’s stocking at Christmas, but claims to be a form of comedy. That’s why I’m so surprised that I didn’t enjoy it more. I usually can’t get enough British deadpan jokes, but all of the humor seemed to fall flat. My cynical side says that people WANT this to be funnier and edgier than it really is. Don’t get me wrong; this is British nihilism to a tee. It might as well be called “The End of the Fookin’ World”. What separates this from Britcoms like The Office and Fawlty Towers is nothing more than an utter lack of good jokes.

Many shows get by with only one or two likable side characters, but TEOTFW doesn’t even meet that bare minimum. James is fine as an unmitigated psycho with a terrible bowl cut. Alyssa fits perfectly into the overused mold of neglected, disobedient teenage girl. However, without anything remotely virtuous happening in the entire setting, the balance seems off. I felt disdain for this cast that I haven’t tapped into since The Jersey Shore.

While the writers did provide growth for our protagonists, it was far too little and much too late. Imagine trying to put out a house fire with a bottle of Gatorade. The supporting cast members are also terrible people, running the gamut from disinterested mom and her perverted boyfriend all the way to kidnapping murderer. Plus, you see a couple characters kill a dog. Kill all the imaginary people you want in your story, but that puppy murdering shit doesn’t fly with me.

To the credit of our main characters, the acting chops and chemistry are present. Alyssa and James probably deserve extra praise for depicting characters with zero redeeming qualities between them. Both are given internal monologues to show their struggling psyches, but it often comes across as obvious or heavy-handed. The supporting cast does a serviceable job, but nothing stands out as great. In the end, you’ve got middling dialogue from largely unknown actors.

I’m normally the biggest proponent of sadistic humor, but the protagonists (if you can even call them that) are too far gone from the jump. Outside of the soundtrack, the best part of the show is that it can be binged in under three hours. Maybe I’m missing the point. Maybe the 96% Rotten Tomatoes score is aimed at a more sophisticated viewer. Or, maybe critics are hopping on the bandwagon for something incendiary so that they can pretend to be rebellious and edgy.

You’re welcome to give this a try if you have a truly dark and dry sense of humor. It’s possible that you’ll see something in TEOTFW that I didn’t. If you find the redeeming qualities, send them to me @thechumpcast. I honestly would appreciate some enlightenment on this one. Until then, this show falls victim to the rules of a binary rating system. The End of the Fookin’ World gets a “Nah man, watch something better.” For me, this is a Streaming Pile of Poo ?.

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