Sometimes I get a show recommendation that goes wrong, and I should have guessed something from the recommendation when part of it includes, “the episodes are real short so you’ll finish quickly.” Well true enough, so I decided to give it a try. I’ll give you my overall summary of the show quickly: Interesting but not entertaining, until it’s not interesting.
This show had a lot of potential I think, which may explain the totally out of proportion buzz for the show. The British show revolves around teenagers James and Alyssa, two outcast loner types who find each other. James is a psychopath who faced a major trauma in his childhood and acts out by burning his hand and killing small animals. He self-diagnosis’s himself as a psychopath, and with that history, who’s to say no? Alyssa is a rebel who hates being told what to do and just…well everything.
These two form a relationship and decide to run away from home, for totally different reasons. James wants to graduate from small animals to humans, specifically Alyssa. Alyssa meanwhile regards James as her boyfriend, although an extremely passive one. This actually sounds like a pretty good premise but the rest of the review has spoilers as I breakdown what goes wrong.
James and Alyssa break into a house with an absent owner and live it up for a while until James discovers some pictures and video of the owner torturing women. Then of course the owner returns. James hides and the owner spying Alyssa asleep in his bed, proceeds to get rapey. This actually provides James his long awaited opportunity to kill someone, and to protect Alyssa, he stabs the homeowner.
Naturally, everything goes wrong from this point. They try to clean up the crime scene while processing the trauma of the murder, which is framed as a defensive act to save Alyssa. Suddenly the running away from home bit goes from being a lark to a life changing event. And then what happens? James deals with the fact that he’s a killer and we, and he, slowly realize that the kid really isn’t the psychopath he thought he was. So if James isn’t a psychopath but he had a history of killing small animals and was plotting to kill Alyssa on multiple occasions, then he’s just evil.
For me, that sucked the interest out of the show. The kids go on the run being chased by two lesbian police detectives, a totally irrelevant plot point that goes nowhere and does nothing except to point to their current year bonafides. I think we’re supposed to still sympathize with the kids because the killing was kind of in self-defense and the victim was a terrible person, but I don’t know how self-defense plays in the UK. In Texas, James would probably get a medal from the local PD for taking someone out who “needs killing.” But this isn’t Texas, so the police are hot on their trail.
Eventually, after much nonsense, the kids hide out with Alyssa’s estranged father, apparently the Brit version of a redneck. So naturally he gives up the kids to the police for the reward money, leading to an extremely absurd and trite cliff hanger.
I don’t know why this show has garnered such positive buzz. Is it the lesbian detectives, or is it because the kids are outsiders? As if that’s never been done before! Otherwise I feel the show went downhill from the moment we realize that James, as troubled as he is, isn’t a psychopath. The fact that he discovers that he really cares for Alyssa when he wanted to kill her mere days before doesn’t ring true. So this show, as edgy as it’s supposed to be, is edgy in a totally unrealistic way. But I made a good effort and stuck with it till the end so I won’t feel bad about not sticking around for season 2 to find out how the “cliff hanger” is resolved.