‘The End’ wants to be a life-over-death comedy
Misery loves company in The end, and while you probably won’t choose to befriend the obnoxious characters of this Australian import, it eventually becomes clear over the course of 10 episodes – airing in back-to-back weekly chapters – why Showtime acquired this quirky comedy-drama and very well played.
It’s the Weeds euthanasia.
Suicide is not painless in this series that opens with Edie, a widow for six months (the wonderful Harriet Walter, seen recently in Succession and Kill Eve) attempting to kill herself in the most miserable way possible, leaving behind a charred house and an arm in plaster. Adding insult to injury, she is carried around the world against her will from the UK to Australia by her distant daughter Kate (a badly injured Frances O’Connor), who reserves her in a high retirement village. range that Edie considers a worse fate you know what.
“I want to be dead because I can’t stand being alive, knowing that I’ve ruined everything,” Edie moans to Kate, who in a bit too broad irony is a doctor specializing in end-of-life palliative care. life. . For Kate, who is dedicated to the practice of helping patients die with minimal dignity, her embittered mother’s morbid addictions are an unpleasant complication in an already messy life that includes a husband serving time in a country prison. -club for financial crimes, a trans son (Morgan Davies) who resents him, and a curious daughter (Ingrid Torelli) who never gets enough attention. (The children are named Oberon-born Titania-and Persephone, which is an indication of The endtendency to preciousness.)
Edie, a sour-minded breast cancer survivor with mastectomy scars to show off – which she’s doing, in spectacular fashion – is obviously not a picnic to be around. Neither is Kate, who is distraught when she intervenes with a young patient who longs to die, confiscating the illegal Nembutal that her loving husband (a loving Luke Arnold) has provided for her. When this situation ends badly, Kate’s balance is shattered, her career threatened.
It takes time to The end to create narrative momentum, but we’re drawn by the strength of Walter’s brave and daring performance as Edie reluctantly accepts his fate, discovering empathy for the suffering of his elderly neighbors and finding an unexpected friend in the turbulent and infinitely tolerant Pamela (stage thief Noni Hazlehurst). His thorny relationship with his daughter and grandchildren is evolving as well, and his bond with the emotionally unstable Oberon is particularly compelling, as are his (their?) Confusing misadventures in the non-binary teenage years.
But it wasn’t until the second half of the season, when Kate and Edie’s debate over life and death became more tangible, with suspensive consequences, that The endthe potential of a series is revealed. What was mostly a downer shifts into high gear in a pleasantly twisty melodratic melodra, and despite a climactic scene of naked cleaning in the sea, these providers of mortality have their hands dirty enough at the end that we remain curious about this. that the future – and maybe even a second season – could be of use to them.
The end, Series premiere, Sunday July 18, 8 / 7c, Showtime