I can’t be sure what I fully cherished about this 2-Season show, but the joy and interest I felt in watching it was indescribable. The two main leads for the main characters of Alyssa and James, Jessica Barden and Alex Lawther, were fantastic in their roles. All of the rest of the cast of characters too. I enjoyed every second of this; even the side characters who barely got much screentime felt like real people because of their own desires, quirks, and criticisms given to Alyssa and James. Everything was just so enjoyable.
As strange as it is to say this, what I really loved about watching this 2-Season series was how unrelatable James and especially Alyssa were to me. I loved each of their introspections for why they behaved the way they do, because it added such a breadth of depth to every scene. However, what I found myself really enjoying was that they were giving such normal, deadpan snarker-style views to different situations or introspective reasons for why they didn’t want to worsen situations by telling the truth, and yet I found myself recognizing that I could never think the way that either of these characters do. Alyssa impulsively gets married in Season 2 because she wanted to feel like she was doing something to move forward with her life, with the implication that everyone around her was moving towards some nebulous conclusion, and she felt stuck. I understand that real life people do this, but even though I don’t feel like I’ve moved forward at all with my life sometimes especially after the Pandemic happened; I could never picture myself being pressured into moving towards something drastic just because other people were getting married, or because they seemed to have their lives in better shape than I do, or because I wanted to feel unstuck and like I was doing something with my life. I’d just focus on what goals I want to accomplish in life. By the end of the series, they speak of how they just go on to deal with the pain that they suffer with no real discernible ideas for what they want in life, yet I find myself comparing it to a car crash I suffered and recognizing that my own personal goals were what helped me continue going. To see life as utter suffering is completely depressing and I’d prefer to just focus on my personal goals while managing whatever suffering as best as humanely possible. What really struck a chord with me was I understand that both of them display typical behavior of outcast teenagers to young adults, but I just don’t see myself even thinking like they do on a fundamental level. I’m too focused on personal goals all the time, even though sometimes they can feel like delusions, and the entire show reminded me of conversations with people I befriended who ended-up boring the fuck out of me so I stopped talking to them. I asked this one college classmate that I befriended what their goals were for their degree and they basically had no answers for why. In fact, at an in-college fair to meet past alumni, I met and spoke with two lawyers, one working for the local district attorney’s office and another working as a personal injury lawyer, and I asked them why they decided to become lawyers. I expected some discussion about loving the law, perhaps they felt it was the best way to help people, or perhaps it ran in the family; something to that effect. However, to my utter astonishment, they froze for a second. By which point, I prepared to get some sort of light chiding about the wonders of working for a law firm. Instead, their facial features changed to one of consternation and one of them asked themselves aloud why they had entered law school and became an attorney. The other didn’t say much of note and essentially shrugged at me. This perplexed me. They had spent all of that time, effort, and money and they couldn’t give me a reasonable answer for why they pursued their life careers? I’ve heard of the maxim that “nobody knows what they’re doing” from an anime and I guess I never understood how true that was until I became more comfortable with asking people what their goals are or why they do what they do. Of course, I have my own flaws and I’m undoubtedly blind to some of them just like how other people are blind to their respective flaws.
Also, due to having watched Invincible a short while ago, it just struck me as odd when I thought about how we consider mass destruction and loss of human life so awful in superhero stories and yet, these human drama stories express how people not knowing what to do with their lives except get through the pain seems nigh-universal. It’s as if we’d be terrified if something took our lives away, but at the same time there’s this strange comfort expressed in being able to no longer have to decide on anything at all in life. This sort of nihilistic fatalism is something I try very hard to avoid, because I despise the very notion of it. Yet, it seems so ubiquitous in entertainment media about human drama and I guess I never truly understood why people would ever settle for that and not try to live more fulfilling lives for their own sake. I think what really set this show apart from others that follow a similar premise is it was exactly what it presented itself as for the most part, instead of giving a false-premise to change the story into something far more boring like usual shows. And, most importantly for me personally, it didn’t disdain viewpoints that try to move past this nihilistic Christian idea of “life is suffering and nothing else” and – while it didn’t talk about them at all – I can appreciate the answer it did give about seeking treatment for mental and emotional scars left by traumatic events instead of trashing viewpoints like mine about aiming for your personal goals as either selfish or evil. Apart from all that, the only drawback was that James wasn’t really a psychopath, he was just numb and for understandable reasons, which I found myself enjoying when the show delved deeper into it. The show was careful not to turn arguably bland premises into a clusterfuck and instead made them probably the most stupendous that they’ve ever been.
The End of the Fucking World gets a 9.7 / 10 from me. Phenomenal show. Definitely give it a watch, if the premise hooks you in, although be warned that its more about introspection towards social situations and the building of the relationship between the two protagonists.