Netflix’s The End of the F***ing World, is one of the best new shows on TV. With only eight episodes that run about twenty minutes, it’s a show you can rock through in a day. It is just that good — and there are spoilers ahead, so be warned.
The main characters, Alyssa and James, are complicated, flawed, funny, lovable, their character development is outstanding, and the two have an electric chemistry that is absolutely captivating. The show respectfully represents a lesbian couple onscreen (and their sexuality isn’t the butt of jokes), and they talk about the messy issues of loss, mental illness, pain, grief, consent, and abuse in complex ways.
But the show ended on significant cliffhanger, with James running from the police, gun in hand, after admitting to a murder. After a few memories of Alyssa flash through James’ head, the screen goes dark and we hear a gunshot. We don’t know for certain if James was shot, if he survived, and what happens next. Naturally, that’s got fans begging for a sequel.
Netflix hasn’t yet greenlit a second season (after all, it was only just released the other week on the streaming site — though it landed in the U.K. back in October 2017), but there has been a great deal of debate among fans whether the show should get a sophomore outing. And while I admit if Netflix released a second season, I’d binge that thing in like a day, no question, I think a second season would be a mistake.
We’re not used to shows having short-but-sweet runs in the US. Our TV shows go on as long as they can, sometimes running well past their sell-by date. We don’t really have shows that go for one season and then intentionally call it quits. To ask a show to end after one nearly perfect season (it initially got a 100% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes) is crazy to many American viewers and fans who want to see what happens to James and Alyssa.
However, what makes The End of the F***ing World so beautiful is that James and Alyssa’s story is so messy, right up to the end. Sure, a second season would introduce new challenges and adventures for James and Alyssa to face, but it would have to resolve the events from season 1. Neatly tying up those storylines would almost take some of the magic away from it, because part of what made the show’s final episode so powerful is we don’t really know how it ends. Our minds can run wild imagining what life looks like for James and Alyssa after the events on that beach.
The ambiguous ending leaves us with a story about two imperfect, flawed people who manage to change each other’s lives forever. How their lives change specifically is up to us to decide. A second season would have to provide specific answers to viewers. And for a show based on the premise that life is messy and doesn’t often make sense, that resolution would steal some of what makes the show special.