Netflix’s End of the Line is the story of a couple, Sandra and Ivan, who are in the process of getting divorced and the mayhem that surrounds them. On the face of it, the series is another generic sitcom, but what sets it apart is the fine line it maintains between the depiction of ‘reality’ and fiction. That balance right there is the crux of what keeps the audience on their toes while watching the show and not giving up on it in the middle.
There is a temptation to call End of the Line a parody, but there isn’t enough exaggeration to classify it as such. Instead, all the show does is mix in the ‘behind the scenes’ moments with the actual narrative, which is the show’s way of breaking the fourth wall. The ending is decidedly oversimplified and hasty, and that is the only aspect of the series that can be classified as a parody, representative of the wrong couples getting together for the silliest reasons (Ross and Rachael).
If End of the Line was indeed a real sitcom, the audience would have rolled its eyes at the jokes connecting a new bag to a ‘douchebag’ because of the wordplay or making a joke around a Midas ‘turd’ instead of ‘touch’. The worst may have been the correlation between a canceled booking and people getting canceled on the internet. This is how jokes in sitcoms are written, with literally anything being connected and humor being a matter of the laughs that can be elicited every few minutes. It quite literally translates into multiple people performing stand-up comedy together. There is nothing against sitcoms in general, but the audience may not have had the patience for it if this series had not set itself apart in the way it did.
Despite the refusal to call End of the Line a parody, it cannot be denied that its intention was to make fun of popular tropes in sitcoms. The lead couple at the center, who simply cannot get along but are connected to each other because of their situations and are still in love, reminds everyone of so many couples. It probably started with Ross and Rachael (F.R.I.E.N.D.S.), and most recently, it is either Penny and Leonard (The Big Bang Theory) or Amy and Jake (Brooklyn Nine-Nine). It doesn’t matter what anyone says, but Jake was too irresponsible for Amy, and Penny settled for Leonard, who never gained enough self-worth to see that. Ross and Rachael were good only as a brief relationship, no matter how much chemistry the actors had. These opinions will always be up for debate, but who can really deny that Ivan was the worst thing to happen to Sandra? Her life would have been better if not for him, but since this is a sitcom and they are making fun of popular tropes, the two end up together when they should have been as far away from each other as possible.
Ivan is the troublemaker of the series, the one whose antics and mistakes drive the story. His wife, Sandra, is the perfectionist who is trying to get things done and have a decent life, while their son is the compulsory ‘dimwit.’ There is one in every sitcom. This family is surrounded by the rest of the other eccentric characters. First is Migue, the mechanic, who is Ivan’s best friend and his voice of reason, who tries to temper his outrageous schemes. Sandra has Ale as her best friend, and most of her jokes and subplots revolve around how popular she is with younger men. Our gut feeling says that this is sexist. But rationality born of an understanding of the show’s format tells us that this is a reference to the depiction of older women in sitcoms. The most prominent example would be Sophie from Two Broke Girls. Some other lighter examples can also be drawn from Seinfeld or F.R.I.E.N.D.S., where the characters’ mothers’ subplots only revolved around them looking for ‘romance,’ usually with men half their age (their children’s friends). F.R.I.E.N.D.S. had an older man getting involved with a younger woman (Bruce Willis with Jennifer Aniston or Tom Selleck with Courtney Cox), but it was shown as an achievement and given the romantic respect it deserved. So maybe the representation of Ale in End of the Line was sexist and a depiction of it as well.
End of the Line does not have us rolling on the floor with laughter, but that goes for most sitcoms. However, like them, it manages to maintain a lighter note that is endearing. One of the greatest mysteries of every sitcom is the financial stability of the characters. How did Monica, Rachael, or even Penny afford their apartments? How did Jerry Seinfeld stay so financially comfortable on a comedian’s income? How was Jake Peralta not on the streets after all the financial mistakes he had made, and how did he manage to convince Amy to marry him when it was evident that he would probably never get responsible with money?
Similarly, how did Ivan not become homeless sooner than the last episode of the show? How did he manage to keep bribing his son, who had to buy expensive sneakers with that card, when he couldn’t afford to keep a proper air conditioner or spare part for his car? This is the only reason to be reborn as a character on a sitcom in the next life because no matter what happens, money will never be an issue.
End of the Line is not predictable, like most sitcoms aren’t. However, due to the limited number of its episodes, it also tends to dabble in fantasy, like the magical ending where everything is resolved because of literally nothing. While that doesn’t affect the overall quality of the show, the only thing missing is that perhaps the characters and their relationships needed some more in-depth exploration and development. However, that was never the intention of the story, and for what it is, this was a sweet watch.