Season two of End of the F****ing World is an introspective look into the complicated lives of UK teenagers


 “I learned about punishment from a young age; I learned it happens because of love.” 

The very first line of The End of the F****ing World is so powerful it almost becomes indescribable. To hear this line uttered from the lips of, at this point in the show, a young Bonnie (Naomi Ackie) is nothing short of painful. This theme of love and hate and how they remain bound to one another was a common theme in season one of the show, and it continues to be beautifully woven throughout the episodes of season two.

 While season one centered itself around the intricate schemes of James (Alex Lawther) and Alyssa (Jessica Barden), season two incorporates yet another character, Bonnie. Similar to the first season, the second set of episodes revolve around the plot of one character intending to murder another. The link back to the first season is an interesting one (no spoilers, though) and adds yet another layer of depth to the program. 

Right away, the events are an insightful look into the butterfly effect. In short, as many already know, actions have consequences. This lesson, although already learned seemingly one million times over by James and Alyssa, is reinforced yet again in the occurrences that follow them throughout the second season. 

This is what makes the show so compelling, though. Many unfortunate things happen to both James and Alyssa, but Alyssa specifically is an especially likable character. She’s not likable in a traditional sense, though. She gives sass to almost everyone she encounters, yet somehow, she always manages to successfully toe the line between rude and confident. For example, when told that she should “smile more” from a man sitting next to her on the bus, a summary of her response is “no” and ends with a biting “can you shut your legs please” in reference to his dreadful manspreading. Despite all of her misfortunes, she combines both wittiness and kindness into her personality, which, from my perspective, earns her the respect of all people she encounters. 

Taking this into account, it is heart-rending to see not only the mental effects but the physical of all of her trauma. No matter how strong of a persona she paints, she wears her tragedy on her face. It seems to be embedded into her very skin, which, when gazing upon it, looks like 40 years of pain plastered onto an 18-year-old body. 

In addition to this, the landscape in which the program takes place is surrounded by a seemingly eternal dreariness with its perpetual rain and evergreen forests. This serves to coat the show with suspense and an aura of mysteriousness, which is only added on to the impeccable soundtrack. With a broad mix of both modern indie to ‘50s doo-wop, Scorer Graham Coxon, who composed songs like “She Knows” and “Meaner than the sea,” works to build dread and a gut-wrenching heartbeat, while music from artists like The Kinks, Danny and the Juniors, and Bob Dylan allow the show to keep its youthful charm. 

The idea “love looks different for everyone” is also uniquely delved into during the show.

Especially with the immediate quotation of the relationship between love and abuse, which proceeds to be demonstrated through Bonnie, who, because she was abused/experienced a lack of love as a child, is unable to distinguish between those who love her and those who look to hurt her. James and Alyssa also illustrate this because their love for each other is stretched and strained in many ways, yet they become so ingrained in each other that they always seem to find their way back. This look into the overlap of friendship, love, abuse, and pain creates a depth to all characters in the show that only makes it more enjoyable to watch. 

Overall, the actions of James, Bonnie, and Alyssa can be described as a depiction of the carelessness of youth from both outside and inside perspectives. The point of view shift from James and Alyssa to Bonnie gives what would normally remain a dark, depressing show about murder scenes to dramatic irony and comedic relief at the most inappropriate and hilarious moments, making it all the more enveloping as a show and a definite tear-jerker.