I watched the first two series of Misfits over the past few days after being recommended on twitter that I should watch it and I’m glad I did. It was nice that each series had approximately 7 episodes, making it easy to catch up before the series 3 premiere last night. I was sceptical about starting the show beforehand, not because I hadn’t heard good things, but because I feel the superpower trope has been overused a lot, and not always used well.
The basic plot of the show is that five early twenties young offenders who are serving community service are caught in an electrical storm which leaves them with new powers. As they start to figure this out, they also find out that their probation worker also has been changed by the storm, this time for the worse, and as they try to defend themselves they accidentally end up killing him. The series continues to follow the five of them as they bond over their situation and what they did and attempt to keep it secret. They get to know other people who were changed in the storm as well, some of whom they befriend, and some who try to kill them.
In my opinion Misfits has managed to do what No Ordinary Family failed to. My personal reason for liking their take on the superpower trope is the fact that they don’t try to become superheroes who save the world. Instead they are forced to use their new advantages to deal with the mess they find themselves in. Most of their powers have some sort of disadvantage that creates natural tension within the story, and which is not as common in the superpower trope. The only one I can think of off the top of my head is Rouge from X-Men, whose power is very similar to Misfits’ Alisha. A good example of the way these people think about their powers can be summed up by this quote from Nathan in late series 2: ‘A bunch of young offenders develop superpowers, and not one of us thinks of using them to commit crime? Shame on us!’.
More than anything this is a show that excels because of its ensemble cast and the relationships between its characters. The group consists of five very different personalities with individual backgrounds, who, despite the occasional difference of opinion, stick together to stay out of trouble. First there’s Nathan, an Irish loudmouth who loves to provoke and be offensive but cares when it counts. He is the last one to find out what his power is when he wakes up in his coffin realizing he is immortal. Then there’s Simon, the polar opposite of Nathan. He is introverted and sort of creepy at the start of the show but develops to become one of the most level headed members of the group. His power is that he can turn invisible at will. The last boy in the group is Curtis, a former championship runner who ended up in community service for possession of cocaine. His power is the ability to turn back time, more often than not by accident. Of the girls, we have Alisha, the beautiful girl who usually gets any boy she wants. Her power is probably the most disadvantageous seeing as it makes anyone who touches her experience overwhelming sexual arousal. Lastly we have Kelly, a girl with a lot of attitude who takes no crap. Her power is the ability to hear thoughts, both human and animal.
My favourite character is Nathan and has been ever since the first episode. He is great for comic relief and he has made me laugh out loud when sitting alone in a room watching the show, something which I rarely do. I also enjoy Kelly and her bad attitude. I had some trouble understanding her accent at first, but it got easier as I got used to it. I also grew fond of Simon in the second series. I found him a little too creepy to really like him as a character in the beginning, but now he’s one of my favourites.
I think Misfits is a very entertaining show, and a new way of portraying superpowers on TV. I also think that the good thing about British television is that they keep theirs series short. That does mean long breaks between each series, but in the end I think it benefits the story in that it doesn’t drag out storylines for 22 episodes and doesn’t need second rate B- and C- plots to keep people’s attentions. I look forward to watching the third series and to see where the story goes from here.