I started watching "The End of the F***ing World" the other day, primarily because I’d read somewhere that it was the highest-rated series on Rotten Tomatoes. As someone who takes RT very, very seriously, I decided it would be worth my time. Thus, towards the end of a busy week, I set aside time to devour the show. It wouldn’t take long, considering that each episode spanned an average of twenty minutes, but when I sat in front of my laptop, I was done for: this series had my face in its hands and devoured me whole. Kind of like a Dementor, except less terrifying.

Ingredients to television success

The smash-hit British series, based on a comic book of the same title by Charles S. Foreman, revolves around two teenagers, James and Alyssa, who have sat on the outside of their own lives, stuck in a cycle of merely looking in. Soon, the two kick-start a romantic relationship—more one-sided, considering that James quite literally wants to kill her—and this begins a misadventure that goes from gloriously fun to straight-up dark in a matter of seconds.

This is one of the most noticeable achievements of the series: finding that perfect balance between horror and comedy, then following it strategically.

Despite the several crimes committed by the two, ranging from petty theft to murder, there is always the air of inevitability, but also, hope. While they will get caught, the audience hopes that, by some act of God, the two will get off scot-free. That isn’t realistic, though, and "The End of the F***ing World" is very much set in the real world.

Crazy characters and crazier stories

This world's reality, as cruel as it may be, is another aspect of the show that adds to its brilliance. Alyssa, who generally couldn’t be bothered, is my personal favorite and is the most quotable.

When James’s father expresses his relief in his son’s interest in women (as opposed to men), Alyssa responds, “Maybe he’s asexual. We’re dealing with a really broad spectrum these days.”

While the political and sexual consciousness of television characters no longer surprises me, to find this assertion in the mouth of a privileged body is a joy beyond measure. Another notable quote from Alyssa appears to us in the third episode, after she aborts a sexual altercation with an older guy named Topher: “Respect me changing my mind and f*** off, please.” Alyssa’s words, embedded in these momentary situations, truly set the tone for the show, marking its events as occurring in real-time alongside the rest of us.

James, the more silent type, is another interesting character. A self-declared psychopath who witnessed his mother's suicide, James is certainly a deeply troubled boy. He kills animals in his free time, and in the beginning of the series, we’re introduced to his first potential human victim: Alyssa. Their similar position as outcasts is really what begins this relationship, but soon enough, James cannot bring himself to kill her. It’s a subtle build-up, one slowed every time he hesitates, leading up to the last moment of the first season: “I’ve just turned 18 and I think I understand what people mean to each other.”

Along with a host of other characters, including a twisted scientist, a serial killer, and two female police officers who lean towards women on this "broad spectrum", "The End of the F***ing World" provides us with a diverse range of people in a rarely visible British setting.

The performances of the two leads, however, are the pinnacle of the series. Alex Lawther (who plays James) and Jessica Barden (who plays Alyssa) are absolute powerhouses on-screen, and their chemistry, talent, and honed skill are enough to make a grown man both scream and cry.

With all that said, it’s no wonder that Netflix is responsible for bringing this god-send series to the rest of the world. The first season, which began streaming in January, is available on Netflix. At the time of this article’s publication (February 4), no date for the second season had been set.