“I always wanted to punch my dad in the face” /James 17, psychopath/.
Do you remember being a teen, walking around the neighborhood, killing cats, thinking about suicide in complete nihilism? Fortunately me neither. I had a childhood, but this TV programme is not your regular imagination of being a teenager. Surreal, disturbing and marvelously funny. It’s somewhere between I’m laughing real hard and I have to throw up. The series is based on Charles S. Forsman’s comic book and was made perfectly sick by director Jonathan Entwistle.
The story is about James (Alex Lawther), who diagnosis himself as a psychopath, which is a pretty accurate thought considering his lack of empathy, murderous thoughts and overall deadly chill around him. After killing some animals, he decides that it’s time to go for something bigger, or someone bigger, and this is the moment he f*cks up. His would be “victim” is a girl named Alyssa (Jessica Barden), who is even more fucked up then he could ever be. Not properely assessing these details, James finds himself in a situation he never thought was possible to be in, and feelings he never imagined feeling. I mean the dude just wanted to kill a girl, but in a short period of time, you’ll get to question who’s the victim here exactly.
All this in a very dark setting, with short conversations usually ending up in: “Fuck you” or some other vulgar phrase. The audience doesn’t even know what to do, with all these things after an episode ending. Obviously I binge-watched the whole first season overnight, laughing a lot and feeling empty inside for some reason. This series brings out literally that feeling of: “What the hell did I just watch?”.
You guys probably realized that I’m obsessed with music in overall, and I can’t miss the chance to reflect on them here aswell. The scenes are so dissonant with the soundtracks, that even though, you know you’re watching a drama, but they want to make you feel like it’s a walk in the park with the family and your dog. In one of the episodes they crash their runaway car into a tree. As the engine starts burning, James thinks about killing Alyssa right there but eventually decides otherwise, so they walk through a forest to find a highway to hitchhike. All this with a chill country music in the background, like it’s some Sunday family movie you’re watching. As they finally get into a stranger’s car Alyssa wraps her thoughts into the following sentence: “I’m gonna be so fucked off, if we get murdered.” Oh my sweet summerchild.
It’s a very serious series, that can’t be taken seriously. Like there’s this scene, where they run away from their home, and Alyssa says that they’re finally free to do anything. You’d imagine people to go on a holiday to Hawaii and never come back, or jump out of a plane to feel alive, but that’s not what a depressed/psychopathic 17 year old girl would do, so they go lasertagging. Just because they can.
After running away from home, their quest becomes to get to Alyssa’s dad, who is a bit like a hobo living on the countryside, but this actually doesn’t matter. The things that matter are moments. Like the one, where they stand over the bleeding body of a guy, James stabbed in the throat to protect Alyssa from being raped… Normally you’d imagine some awkward conversation taking place after something like that, but not here, nah. So the music during these scenes is Brenda Lee’s evergreen classic “I’m sorry”. You’d probably imagine teenage girls listening to it, while crying in their bed. Not this time. The conversation goes like this. James: Are you virgin? Alyssa: Yes. James: Me too. Alyssa: Yeah no shit! All this while the bloodpool around the guy forms a heart. Seriously, how can something escalate to a point like this. It’s so disturbing, that you don’t know, if you should laugh or quit watching the series, but trust me the latter is not an option.
You suddenly find yourself being addicted to this state of being speechless, and you can’t explain why. It’s not just the story that makes you sit in the couch for two hours, but the development of the characters. Yeah you heard it right, psychopathic, depressed teenagers on their quest to lose themselves develop feelings for each other. It may sound like a cliché, but trust me, while watching the series it will be everyting but obvious. They learn to care for each other, feel trust, safety and even sacrifice themselves, if they think it’s the right thing to do. With all this said, I think that in 20 years this is going to be a classic.
Everything is so unique, everything being broken in the characters makes sense in the plot, everything dissonant fits into the picture and the things that shouldn’t work at all, work perfectly together. It’s almost like cheese with olives, I never thought they could work, but it turned out that I was wrong the whole time. Epic narratives like the ones above, epic dialogues, awesome actors and one of the most confusing yet consistent plot I’ve seen in a while, making the world shake in this epic short-story series, leaving you questioning yourself for being judgemental and human.