Foxtel’s anticipated new Aussie series The End finally debuted tonight.
In the double episode premiere on Fox Showcase, we’re abruptly introduced to Edie Henley (Dame Harriet Walter), who is trying to kill herself in her home in England.
The sequence would be confusing if you didn’t know this was a dark comedy. Set to bouncy music, the scene is almost comical as a euphoric Edie attempts (and fails) suicide.
Watch Foxtel Original The End. Stream now On Demand. Sign up at foxtel.com.au
After paramedics don’t respect her wishes carved out in black texta on her wristband ‘Do not resuscitate’, Edie is later wheeled into arrivals at Gold Coast Airport where she’s greeted by her daughter, Dr Kate Brennan (Frances O’Connor), and two grandchildren.
Kate drops a reluctant Edie off at a retirement village where she declares that she will attempt suicide again, which clearly mortifies Kate who chooses not to engage.
It seems that’s not the only fractured family tie. We soon meet Kate’s husband, Christopher Brennan (Brendan Cowell) who is in jail for embezzlement.
The kids talk to him over the phone but Kate refuses.
Meanwhile there’s a wedding going down at Edie’s new home, where the Baby Boomers are perpetuating that life actually begins at 80.
All the ladies are wearing Camilla-style floaty dresses, resort headscarves and their best jewels as they gossip about other retirees and their husbands. Edie despises them.
This is where Edie, who has been swigging gin from a bottle all afternoon, reveals her husband George had bladder cancer and died six months ago.
We’re led to believe this is why she wants to die, but she later tells Kate it’s because she can’t live with knowing she wasted her life while George was having several affairs.
It’s next we learn why Kate is so uncomfortable with her mother’s upfront stance on her right to die.
She’s with one of her cancer patients Beth, played by Brooke Satchwell, and her husband Josh (Luke Arnold), who privately inform Kate they need her help giving Beth the illegal lethal drug Nembutal.
“I can’t see that. There are huge risks here, medically if it doesn’t work properly. Legally for you Josh … Criminal implications,” Kate says.
“I’m gonna swallow it myself while I still can. I’m done,” Beth concedes. “I’m not gonna die here on a machine. Kate, you didn’t fail me OK, this is how it is.”
Kate refuses and confiscates the drug, leaving a devastated Beth and Josh. “She doesn’t want to die Kate, she is dying,” Josh says.
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If you haven’t already picked up on it, the show is posing the question of whether or not voluntary dying should be legal.
It became legal in Victoria in 2019 – in strictly limited circumstances – but is illegal in all other states. But the right to die has been a major talking point over the last couple of years.
During The End’s first two episodes you sway between both sides of the argument. The show cleverly leaving the viewer to independently decide how to feel about the topic.
The End airs Tuesdays on Fox Showcase at 8.30pm