A worthy second season of ‘The End of the [Expletive] World’

Jessica Barden and Alex Lawther in “The End of the [Expletive] World.”
Jessica Barden and Alex Lawther in “The End of the [Expletive] World.”Netflix (custom credit)

I was a fan of the first season of Netflix’s “The End of the [Expletive] World,” a brisk series based on Charles Forsman’s graphic novel about two unusual teens falling in love on the road. And the end seemed fairly definitively the end, so I assumed it was going to be a memorable one-off featuring a pair of unforgettable performances by the two leads.

But Netflix has brought the British series back for a second season, and — while at times it feels like an epilogue, something tagged on — I’m not sorry I watched it. It’s true to the spirit of season one, which made the two messed-up central characters Alex Lawther’s James and Jessica Barden’s Alyssa sympathetic against all odds. It has the same gonzo tone and darkly funny writing. And it has a decent plotline that’s linked to the action of season one in a not-forced way.


A new character named Bonnie (a zombie-like Naomi Ackie) has center stage at the beginning of the season, which takes place two years after the events of season 1. Bonnie, troubled and alone, was one of the lovers of the man James and Alyssa killed in season 1, and she wants revenge. The guy was a rapist, but Bonnie doesn’t know that — consciously, at least — when she goes after them with the kind of anarchic energy that the show specializes in. Everyone ends up in a new place, and the story winds down nicely. Like the first round of episodes, this one flies by enjoyably, if not brilliantly.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.