Carol & The End of The World Review: A Routine Apocalypse

Carol & The End of The World's subdued approach to armageddon might not work for everyone.

​Carol & The End of The World. Martha Kelly as Carol in Carol & The End of The World.
​Carol & The End of The World. Martha Kelly as Carol in Carol & The End of The World. Photo: Netflix

This Carol & The End of the World review contains no spoilers.

Maybe it’s the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, or perhaps entertainment creatives just feel like we’re living in the end times, but an influx of apocalyptic programming has rammed its way onto our screens in the last half-decade. The concept of humanity going extinct has always fascinated the world, probably because the topic is ripe for analysis and social commentary. To stand out from the plethora of options in apocalyptic fiction, each show must have a defining trait to keep viewers’ attention. 

Netflix’s newest animated option, Carol & The End of the World, has a lot to say about what different types of people would do if faced with their final months on Earth. Whether audiences can comprehend all of it or glean anything novel from the show will probably be determined by each person’s sense of humor and previous knowledge of adult animation. 

Carol & The End of the World starts out with a simple premise. A stray planet is hurtling towards ours and will obliterate life as we know it in seven and a half months. With such a finite amount of time to fulfill dreams and tick things off the bucket list, most of the population is busy getting drunk at parties or going on vast vacations around the globe. Everyone except one lonely soul: Carol (voiced by Baskets’ Martha Kelly). 

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The story’s protagonist is a 42-year-old woman with an adventurous sister and nudist parents. She doesn’t have a husband or kids and certainly isn’t comfortable wasting her time on illegal substances or expensive cruises across the Atlantic Ocean so that she can brag to strangers about her life. Carol seemingly meanders through every day with a mundane personality and a dearth of interests outside of work and home. When you don’t desire the grand moments in life, how can you truly take advantage of the time left on Earth? 

Each episode features Carol digging deeper into what makes her happy. Bottle storylines litter the miniseries rather than an ongoing plot. However, new characters are introduced into Carol’s life each half-hour and typically stay in her vicinity as the season approaches the middle and the finish line. The storytelling structure feels like a puzzle slowly being pieced together, and this shouldn’t be shocking when you look at the creative talent behind the script. The mind of Dan Guterman fuels Carol & The End of the World. Guterman contributed to the scripts for Rick and Morty and Community earlier in his career, so you can expect plenty of similar humor in this new show. 

Metaphors, symbols, and tangents often take up large sections of each episode, and if you aren’t used to that type of storytelling, or it’s just not your cup of tea (this reviewer raises his hand here!), Carol & The End of the World might drag on for you. A loaf of banana bread isn’t just a random pastry when characters munch it for 20 minutes. Dream sequences that make it hard to discern the difference between reality and fiction make the show more philosophical than science fiction. Metahumor and in-your-face remarks about the morbidity of the backdrop will ring hollow to sectors of the viewing public. 

Looking at the jokes objectively, there’s no denying the wit and sharp tongue that Guterman and the writers apply in the show. Thoughtful monologues and five-minute-long scenes with just a couple of characters let people into the themes of each episode. Even if many of the jokes go over your head, the characters are likable and bring a surprising amount of heart to the story. 

Carol is a woman of few words, but she possesses perseverance and strength that makes the show almost feel optimistic at times. Her desire to make friends and enjoy the slice-of-life intricacies of a daily schedule demonstrates the more subtle answers to how many of us would want to spend our last months alive. Carol decides to make friends in the most unlikely places, and she often brings people together who refuse to talk and commiserate otherwise. A middle-of-the-season episode in which she learns everybody’s name in her office and then holds a eulogy for a dead coworker who croaks right at his desk gives a peek into the gentle balance of black humor and humanistic good underlying the show. Those two things typically juxtapose, but Carol & The End of the World brings them under one umbrella. 

Extraneous factors in the show’s quality include a bleak animation style that won’t turn any heads. A mixture of pop music montages and original tracks blend into a coherent melody of songs that make the series easy on the ears. Overall, the show’s aesthetic matches its themes, but it won’t win any awards or be emulated anytime soon. Carol & The End of the World strikes that contemporary desire to live vicariously through characters undergoing catastrophic life changes. The series can be summed up as niche, with a story that should cast a wide net but only catches a small number of fish. Those who bite on it might find one of their new favorite adult animated series or move on to another option with haste. 

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All 10 episodes of Carol & The End of the World are available to stream on Netflix now.


3.5 out of 5