This Scene About Consent In 'The End of the F***ing World' Is So Important

11 January 2018, 13:34

The End of the F***ing World
The End of the F***ing World. Picture: Channel 4
Woodrow Whyte

By Woodrow Whyte

Trigger warning: sexual assault.

Netflix's latest hit series 'The End of the F***ing World' is being applauded by critics and fans alike for how it's handled a storyline involving consent.

The show stars Alex Lawther as 17-year-old James who believes he is a psychopath and Alyssa, played by Jessica Barden, a rebellious teen who wants to escape her tumultuous home life. They end up on a wild road trip which takes many violent, unexpected turns.

If you don't want to read any spoilers, then don't read beyond this point. There are 8 episodes and they're only 20 minutes long so you can catch up pretty quickly.

via GIPHY

The show has earned a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, having not received a single negative review so far. It also has a 95% rating from the sites users too, which is higher than Stranger Things, The Crown and House of Cards. Pretty impressive stuff!

One of the many reasons the show has been getting such good press is because of how it handled the theme of consent, especially during one scene between Alyssa and Topher in episode three.

Earlier in the episode Alyssa initiates sex with James but mistakes his nervousness as rejection. The next day she leaves the house that they are squatting in and comes across a guy called Topher. She decides, in part to make James jealous, to bring him back to the house to have sex. By the time they get into the bedroom, however, Alyssa finds herself unable to go through with the encounter, which this leads to one of the best lines in the entire season.

Sitting on the side of the bed as Topher undresses, she says, "I changed my mind, I'm sorry. I'm not into this."

"That's not fair", Topher retorts, and then tries flattery to get her back in the mood. "I think you're amazing." Then comes Alyssa's incredibly sassy and deadly serious response:

"Well then, respect me changing my mind, and fuck off, please."

The scene has gone down a storm on social media, with one tweet about the scene receiving over 41k retweets.

Consent comes up a second time in the final episode.

Alyssa and James start to make out on a beach but Alyssa experiences flashbacks of a violent attack from an earlier episode, and so she asks James if they can wait. "Just for a bit, I don't know. A few days. Is that ok?", she asks. "Yeah, of course", James responds. It's a simple but powerful scene that shows how seriously the writers took the issue of consent.

The End of the F***ing World
The End of the F***ing World. Picture: Channel 4

So why are these scenes so important? Well, some people really seem to have a problem understanding consent but Alyssa's scene makes things very clear.

It's a sad reality that often women (and some men too) might not feel that refusal is an option when it comes to sex, especially if they have initiated the encounter. Or, if they do refuse, they have to do so in a gentle way in order to not offend in case it creates a hostile, and potentially dangerous, situation.

Given the current climate of #MeToo and a renewed focus on ideas of consent and what that means in a practical sense, Alyssa's unapologetic refusal is a particularly empowering moment. It reenforces the point that you should always have the right to say no, no matter what the context. It also shows that when someone says no, they mean no, and that should always be respected, even if you feel rejected.

All hail Queen Alyssa!

via GIPHY