When the first season of the 2006 NBC show Heroes concluded, the show was considered a huge hit. It was a superhero show for people who weren’t big superhero fans. Unfortunately, the show’s second and third seasons were less than what people expected and the show quietly fizzled out after season 4. In 2009, a British show called Misfits started which followed a vaguely similar premise, people unexpectedly receiving powers after a natural phenomenon. Where Misfits differed from its spiritual predecessor is in its focus, 5 teens who are serving out their community service, and in its execution. While Heroes tried very hard to be a serious drama, Misfits plays itself off as a dark comedy with moments of seriousness. This formula has worked to critical acclaim and with the recent successful end of season 3, the sky is the limit for this TV gem.
Misfits centers around Nathan, Kelly, Curtis, Alisha, and Simon. These five juvenile offenders are placed together in a community service program for various crimes ranging from drunk driving, to accidentally setting a fire and trying to put it out by peeing on it, to swiping candy from a Pick N’ Mix stand. Most of the comedy in the show stems from their love/hate relationship and the “advice” and life philosophies they share with each other. Most of which are illegal, vulgar, or stupid.
Nathan is the de facto leader of the group. This isn’t because of his intelligence, moral code, or power. The others usually follow his lead because he talks and talks and talks until they do what he says just to shut him up. Kelly is the ghetto chick with the caring heart. While she is ready to throw blows at any moment, she has a soft spot for the group and more specifically, Nathan and his antics. Curtis was arrested covering for a friend and because of this saw himself as better than the rest of the group until he grew to know and befriend them. Alisha is a party girl of the highest caliber and has no problem sleeping around. After starting her community service she starts a relationship with Curtis and seems to commit to changing her party girl ways. Simon starts off as the quiet introvert of the group with no real friends. As time progresses, he transforms into the conscience of the group and finds himself four close friends.
The great thing about Misfits is how it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. While Heroes treated death on the show like an emotion-packed event, Misfits’ deaths are kinda slapstick in nature. One of the show’s running gags is the characters having to kill someone, accidentally or otherwise, every few episodes. Simon tries to convince the group to use their powers to help other, but like any young person who gets powers, they are used mostly for self-gain or just plain old survival. Other people who got their powers from the storm usually find themselves at odds with the group and most of these differences end in violence.
Since the show deals with characters who are in their late-teens and early twenties, the music has to fit those characters and the life they lead. Expect a lot of trance, house, and electric music. I’m not a huge fan of this type of music but some of these tracks wormed their way onto my driving mix.
Since Misfits is considered a success, the next step is beginning the process of adapting the show to be brought over to America. I hope it really takes off but unfortunately, the track record for British shows being adapted for American audiences is atrocious, with the exception of The Office. The main problem would have to be the level of vulgarity in the show. How would the producers edit this gem from Nathan, “The siren call of the blowjob renders all men powerless. That’s how girls trick you into marrying them.”
The group is constantly shown to be chugging down beers, taking drugs, and having sex; all things that American censors won’t greenlight. A prime example of the neutering that British shows sometimes go through to come to America was the failed attempt at adapting Skins. Mediocre reviews and controversy over content pretty much hamstrung the show and had it cancelled after one season.
I strongly recommend everyone take a look at this show before it comes out in America. If nothing else to get the amazing comedic acting of Robert Sheehan who plays Nathan and the barely understandable British working class accent of Kelly who is played by Lauren Socha. The entire series and some webisodes are available on Hulu.