Netflix's The End of the F***ing World: Stop Romanticizing Mental Illness

Content warning: This post discusses sexual assault and death.

Netflix recently released it's newest series, The End of the F***ing World. This series follows the familiar pattern of recent 'edgy' content from Netflix that portrays a mentally unwell lead character who 'changes' through the power of love. In this post, I'm going to discuss potentially triggering topics, so I'd like to issue a content warning for those who choose to read on.

The first line we hear as the show opens is that the main character considers themselves to be a psychopath. They then go into detail about how they feel nothing, kill animals for fun and proceed to list all the animals he has killed. In the next scene, we see he's at school, which he claims is beneath him, yet he's using it as an outlet to find the next thing he wants to kill. This time, he wants to go big.

Along comes Alyssa, an oddball in her own respect. She laments that she's just so different from everyone else, that she thinks about the sky, and that she hasn't seen her biological father since she was 8. She's loud, doesn't respect authority, and thinks everyone besides her is a boring 'square'.

Already, this is sounding like a bad Wattpad fanfiction.

Alyssa is just so RANDOM and edgy, that when her friend texts her from across the table, she responds with unnecessary violence by throwing her phone to the ground and storming off with a smile. Because... that's cool. Right?

I'm so baffled trying to imagine what these shows are trying to teach teenagers and younger generations these days. Are they trying to say that if you respond to something in a violent or toxic way that you're essentially a 'cool person'? The entire show gives a vibe that says "Go talk to that lonely kid during lunch! He may want to kill you but you can change him if you're nice enough!". 

Ponder for a moment what this show would be like if this was a cast of all people of color. I think this helps to put this kind of behavior into the perspective. The blatant disrespect for other people? Proudly stating the desire to kill? The crude language? The violent, socially disruptive tendencies? Why is this kind of behavior near-glorified when it's presented by two white leads? If this were to star a person of color, they were to be called "a threat to a society" and "troubled". People of color are sent away to mental hospitals, arrested, or often killed for these behaviors.

But instead, it's a trendy TV show because of this is about two white teenagers living in a suburban area who are so misunderstood.

It's become trendy to be a white person who is mentally unwell and socially unadaptable. It is now trendy to not fit in, curse at people, and shame those around you who enjoy things that are 'too normal', but only if you have the privilege to do so. 

The constant sarcasm in the script quickly crossed the line from friendly banter to near harassment.  The 1-second pause witty comebacks scream 'bad writing' and totally contradict the characters that are otherwise socially awkward with little to no humor.

Content warning: Within the second episode, the main male lead gets assaulted by another man in the bathroom. The third episode shows Alyssa about to be raped by a man whose home she broke into. Netflix has consistently put out content that portrays sexual assault, with absolutely no warning to viewers beforehand. Not only does their content frequently contain violent assault, but they use said assault to further the plot, to make things "interesting". I

t's unbelievable to me that in order to add drama or make a situation tense, Netflix chooses to use sexual assault as the method, with absolutely no respect to the sensitivity of the topic or how this could trigger viewers.

The fact that this idea came off paper and was actually shot, edited, and shown to the general public is mind-blowing.

A disgusting show like this that paints a destructive, mentally unwell mindset as desirable, funny, or cool in any way is a disturbing narrative that no one should follow. While Netflix has produced some incredible TV shows this one is a must skip if you want to save your precious time (and brain cells).

As always, thank you for reading.