Content Warning: The End of The Fu***ing World covers issues of abuse, sexual assault, and suicide.
We all have that one aspect of storytelling that just puts us off. Whether it’s graphic violence, too much profanity, or crude humor. For me, though it’s a sense of discomfort within a scene. Awkward social situations are my bane. And viewing others try desperately to navigate those social waters, and failing miserably, is something I usually cannot push myself through. The End of The Fu***ing World season two, much like its previous season, is overflowing with the uncomfortable. Yet I couldn’t stop watching. James and Alyssa (played by Alex Lawther and Jessica Barden) play their characters so perfectly and sell the pain, discomfort, and turmoil each endured throughout the season that I had to keep watching. To stop would be to abandon them. And they have had far too much to deal with for me to do that.
The End of The Fu***ing World season two picks up two years after season one after the events of the first season. James and Alyssa haven’t seen each other since the events on the beach that capped season one. The intervening two years have not been kind to either of them. As both emotional and physical scars refuse to heal for the troubled duo. And that’s before Bonnie(played by Naomi Ackie) shows up to make everyone’s life even more tumultuous.
You see Bonnie came from an extremely abusive family. Her mother was determined she would be what she perceived as perfect. And when she failed to live up to those standards she was punished harshly. In one scene Bonnie’s mother Forces Bonnie to eat a stick of lipstick. Because according to her, “Only w***es wear lipstick.” Her terror of her mother is palpable. She eventually finds herself at university where she meets one Professor Clive Koch(played by Jonathan Aris).
Bonnie quickly becomes infatuated with him. And sadly, due to her atrocious home life, is unable to perceive how horribly he is treating her. He is lying, manipulative, and makes her feel like scum for so much as questioning him. When Bonnie sees another woman at his home with him she confronts, albeit in the timidest way possible.
When Koch tells her the girl is threatening him with false scandal Bonnie takes it upon herself to kill the girl. This act lands Bonnie in prison. And that is where she is when James and Alyssa came across Koch’s house during season one of The End of The Fu***ing World. And all she knows is that James and has been accused of killing her boyfriend. Without any knowledge of the truth about him.
One of the most striking aspects of The End of The Fu***ing World season two is how it uses perception to show how extraordinarily different the world can appear to different people. While Bonnie’s past is the most striking example of this it is even more amply expressed in one of the key mechanics of the show’s storytelling. James and Alyssa’s numerous internal monologues.
Both James and Alyssa struggle with expressing themselves. Outwardly Alyssa comes off as cold, and rather uncaring. James just comes off as awkward, and maybe even a bit dumb. But through their internal monologues, we get to fully understand what truly goes on inside them. How much each simply doesn’t know how to properly express themselves. They feel a lot more than they often let on. Understanding these struggles makes the emotional moments come through all the stronger. There are times when Alyssa breaks through her distance she’ll to truly be there for someone. These acts of genuine kinds become all the greater for the characters involved. As not only do you understand how important it is to the recipient, but you also understand what it means to Alyssa herself to come through and make herself vulnerable enough to show these feelings.
The End of The Fu***ing World season two never pulls any punches either. There are scenes of violence, sexual misconduct, the drugging of a woman with the intent to rape her, and suicide. None of this is done for shock value. Every painful moment is used to show how dark, terrifying, and traumatic life can really be. As trauma after trauma piles upon the characters, you come to sympathize more and more with them.
You understand how Bonnie could meet a man like Koch and think he truly loved her. It’s easier to understand why Alyssa has built a wall of venom around herself for protection. Why James just seems so scared. And why they both seem to go together so well. They have seen who each other truly are and they feel safe with each other. And that is are a rare gift in this world.
While I feel the story told in The End of The Fuing World season two is nearly flawless in its execution it certainly isn’t for everyone. As previously stated, uncomfortable scenes abound, and the content and message may be too much for some audiences to handle. It is also a fairly slow burn. As the inevitable confrontation, the plot builds to is sidetracked again and again by circumstances that would be farcical in most settings. Yet within the confines of The End of The Fuing World Season Two, they are simply the struggles that are continually perpetrated upon our hapless protagonists.
The last note I will give on The End of The Fu***ing World season two concerns the manner in which one views it. While watching it anyway one can will do, I can not recommend binging this program enough. While it amplifies the discomfort throughout the show, it also heightens the payoff. When I reached the end after watching the final six episodes back to back(there are eight in total) the impact of the final two scenes was immense. I felt like both the characters and I, had earned the ending we got.
When I rate media I ask myself how well does this program succeeds at doing what it set out to do. Looking at it in that light I feel The End of The Fu***ing World season two is a near-flawless masterpiece. It, like most art, will not be for everyone. But it is definitely worth a look. And with so much big-name content like Watchmen, His Dark Materials, and The Mandolorian coming out right now it would be a shame if this beautiful, tragic, and soul-searching piece of television was allowed to fly under the radar.
The End of The Fu***ing World season two is available now exclusively on Netflix.
The End of The Fu***ing World Season 2
When I rate media I ask myself how well does this program succeed at doing what it set out to do. Looked at in that light I feel The End of The Fu***ing World season two is a near flawless masterpiece.