When I was young and foolish and it was the Nineties, I had a pair of leggings with the F-word on them, emblazoned in a white typewriter font on a black background. As I was a nice girl, they were my sole form of rebellion and I took great pleasure in wearing them whenever my parents’ friends came round. Soon after that, I attempted a career as an underground feminist cartoonist, because THAT’S HOW WILD I WAS. Needless to say, it was not a particularly lucrative career, but I did once get a weird fan letter from a guy in Birmingham called Custard, which I considered a triumph.
Anyway, I found those ‘fuck’ leggings in the wardrobe the other day, and I wondered where that sulky rebel girl had gone. I also wondered, in this time of Instagram Stories, HD brows and unicorn everything, does anyone still wear sweary leggings and draw comics? In fact, do people even use pens?
Enter The End Of The F***ing World on Channel 4 and Netflix, which has restored my faith in the power of youth, rebellion, swearing, Netflix and terrestrial TV in one stylish, dark swoop. Adapted from a 2013 graphic novel by Charles Forsman, it has the cool detachment of a Dan Clowes comic, the very British comedic edge of Fresh Meat, a major dose of Retrovirus Americanis (dark wood panelling, angular Eighties getaway cars, stolen lines from John Hughes movies, eerie service stations that look like rest stops in Twin Peaks) and an incredible performance from Jessica Barden as Alyssa, which leaves you blinking and wondering what the fuck just happened.
An incredible performance from Jessica Barden as Alyssa leaves you blinking and wondering what the fuck just happened
This is a teen road trip story with the twist that one of the protagonists, 17-year-old James (the superbly dead-eyed Alex Lawther) is a psychopath. He dearly wants to kill Alyssa, but she’s more than he bargained for, and he feels more than he bargained for, too. It’s a great conceit; romantic, chilling and unpredictable. It’s also uncomfortably funny, to the point of asking just that little bit too much, but that’s where the rebelliousness comes in. And we all need a bit of that right now.
Yes, there are moments of genuinely creepy, awful ickiness that might lead you to opt for something more cheerful, like Daddy Day Camp starring Cuba Gooding Jr, but please try to resist. The characters are punk rock and weird and you just can’t take your eyes off them as they go about constructing their demise. Also, I don’t want to get too Brexit about this, but it’s British and it looks absolutely amazing and it doesn’t even have Judi Dench in it. Surely that’s something to be proud of? All I know is that The End Of The F***ing World makes me want to wear my ‘fuck’ leggings again, and I haven’t had that feeling in years. More, please.