By Daylin Delgado
What do you get when you mix a 17-year- old self-proclaimed psychopath looking to kill
his new girlfriend, and a too-cool- for-school teenage girl who want to run away in a British dark comedy-drama? Internal monologues, blatant depictions of teenage awkwardness, and surprisingly well-done character development—all sans the modern-day romanticizing of mental illness and crime.
“I’m James, I’m 17, and I’m pretty sure I’m a psychopath,” begins friendless, obviously
damaged James, and viewers may be inclined to roll their eyes at what’s to come with young James’s story—some might be intrigued if they’re into the worrying trend of psychopath obsession.
Enter just as damaged, snarky Alyssa, and viewers are rolling their eyes harder as she
smashes her phone to prove she’s above the cellphone-addicted culture of teenagers. At this point, it becomes difficult to give the show undivided attention as Alyssa convinces James to run away with her, and they plan their ultimately unsatisfying escape.
It’s almost too cliché for the first three episodes, consistently shoving the teenage angst
of fitting in, relationships, and dealing with emotions to the point where the viewers forget it’s a show about two teenagers with deep-rooted emotional issues. There’s also some pretty uncomfortable moments—“I wonder what she would sound like when I killed her.”—and James’s generally off-putting behavior that viewers find hard to swallow or ignore.
But it gets better, and not in a “this is so ridiculous that it’s entertaining” way. While
dealing with serious and petty crimes, the characters begin to open up to each other and to the viewer, evident in the way their narrative monologues and actual dialogue begin to converge—a subtle, but truly genius writing tactic.
Another gold star to add by the show’s title is the way the topics of heavy crime. Sure,
James and Alyssa narrowly escape getting in trouble for a variety of crimes, but the writers didn’t try to justify the majority of their actions. In the last episodes, they begin to struggle with dealing the repercussions of their actions.
Finally, James begins the show by saying he might be a psychopath, but he comes to the
realization that he is far from being able to enjoy killing a person. Viewers learn James’s
inability to feel and manage emotions traces back to a traumatic event in his childhood that was never addressed. His story arc follows his emotional capacity change as he moves from wanting to kill Alyssa to feel something, to thinking he’s protecting her, to realizing he loves her because she protects him.
Overall, the eight-episode series, at less than 22 minutes each episode, is an easy binge
with enough content and a major plot twist ending that will leave viewers satisfied. It’s near- perfect example of how to handle dense and often taboo issues that other shows should aspire to follow.
Source:: The Harbinger