The first season of The End of the F***ing World was pretty goddamn close to a perfect season of television. It’s a fucked-up love story. It’s funny, and disturbing, and moving, a dark-black comedy that recalled to me a teenage version of True Romance. I loved it, right down to its tragic ending, which left James (Alex Lawther) shot and bleeding out on the beach, presumably seconds from death.
Everyone who saw it loved The End of the F***ing World and no one who saw it wanted a season two, but Charlie Covell — who worked off of Charles S. Forsman’s self-contained comic in season one — thought he could create a second season so good that it would make us forget about how perfect season one was.
Like a lot of writers with too much hubris to leave well enough alone, Covell was wrong.
Granted, it’s not a bad season two. It’s fine. There are a few big emotional moments, and it’s sufficiently twisted and entertaining, and the series’ new character, Bonnie (Naomi Ackie), is terrific. But the second season very much has a The Hangover Part II quality to it: It’s not the exact same story, but — like every Mumford and Sons song — the beats are the same.
Alyssa (Jessica Barden) is trying to pick herself up after the events of season two, from which she escaped with essentially a slap on the wrist. She can’t hack the attention at school, however, so she and her mother move out into the middle of nowhere to live with a relative. Alyssa gets a job as a waitress in a diner. She meets a nice boy. They plan a wedding.
Elsewhere, the second episode is devoted entirely to the backstory of Bonnie, a former student(ish) of Dr. Clive Koch (Jonathan Aris), the man who tried to rape Alyssa and who was killed by James. Koch was a serial rapist, but Bonnie doesn’t know that — she was obsessed with him, so much so that she spent time in prison for intentionally driving her car into another woman Koch was seeing. She plots in the second season to kill Alyssa …
James, spiraling, seeks out Alyssa, who flees her wedding to be with James, which is when the series starts to recycle itself. She’s running from her marriage. He’s running from loneliness. They’re both running from Bonnie. They bicker and flee from one another, as they had in the first season, but — like Chidi and Eleanor — they always find their way back to one another, which is sweet and lovely, but also, no one asked for an epilogue to Romeo and Juliet where they get their stomachs pumped and spend the next few days running from Tybalt.
All of which is to say: The second season of The End of the F***ing World is a bummer because it’s not as good as the first season, but more detrimentally, it undoes the perfection that is the first season. Other than that, though, it’s a moderately entertaining three hours.