Why is it that the UK has all the great televised sci-fi these days? (Except for Fringe. We have Fringe, and I love Fringe!) No, I’m not talking about Doctor Who. I’m talking about Misfits, which has just finished broadcasting its third season (its first without actor Robert Sheehan) in the UK, the episodes of which are being made available on Hulu beginning today!
Never heard of Misfits? Well, you might remember Emily Asher-Perrin’s piece on the show from last year, where she makes an interesting comparison between the characters on the show and the characters in The Breakfast Club. Really, though, the best way to get to know the show is to bookmark the Misfits page on Hulu and watch all the episodes from the beginning. The entire series is available there.
Misfits tells the story of five teenagers — Nathan, Simon, Curtis, Alisha, and Kelly — who are doing community service. Not because they’re upstanding citizens, but because they’ve all been arrested. After a freak storm, they develop super powers. When people are looking to describe the show quickly, they inevitably say something like “It’s Heroes meets [insert any remotely-related sci-fi property here].” Comparisons like these don’t do the show justice, however, because it is unlike anything you’ve seen on American television.
Howard Overman, writer/creator of Misfits, has given us a show that, like its protagonists, refuses to follow rules. The characters are hugely unlikable, and yet you root for them every step of the way. The superpowers are besides the point. So much so that many people have them, not just the lead characters, which makes sense since a storm wouldn’t just affect five people in a clump and no one else. In a world where everyone has powers, the stories are forced to go beyond “good guys” and “bad guys.” Also, it’s the first television show I’ve ever seen that not only mentions afterbirth in a scene where a character gives birth, but shows it.
And can we talk about the fact that there are two black characters in a main cast of five? And it’s not even a “Black show!” It’s just a show! *gasp*
Misfits isn’t about fighting crime (the protagonists with powers are themselves criminals), nor is it about starting a superhero team (they don’t), it’s about struggling to find your place in the world even as the world continually shoves you down. Misfits is grounded in real characters for whom superpowers end up being a way to work through other problems they have. For example, Simon has no friends and continually feels ignored. His power? Invisibility. Alisha is an attractive girl who uses sex to get everything she wants. Her power? People desperately want to have sex with her when they touch her, which is not as cool a power as one might think. Misfits has the most realistic depiction of the implications of powers I’ve ever seen. With every episode, I go “Yes, that’s exactly how a real person would react to that!” These characters are brought to life by some of the most amazing young actors I’ve seen in a while, and the show has been racking up awards in the U.K..
Apparently, Overman is in the works to help co-create an American version of Misfits, as the British version has gotten increasingly popular on this side of The Pond because of its accessibility on Hulu. While I’m glad that the creator of the show is involved, I can’t help but think it highly unnecessary. I don’t understand why they can’t just sell the show as is to a network here. The British version of the show is the thing that’s doing well here. I don’t understand why everything has to be Americanized for us.
And that, kids, is the final reason why I’d encourage you to watch Misfits on Hulu. To show them that we think the show is perfect just as it is! If you’ve never before watched Misfits, get ready for a new addiction!
Teresa Jusino has a huge crush on Simon. She can be heard on the popular Doctor Who podcast, 2 Minute Time Lord, participating in a roundtable on Series 6.1. Her “feminist brown person” take on pop culture has been featured on websites like ChinaShopMag.com, PinkRaygun.com, Newsarama, and PopMatters.com. Her fiction has appeared in the sci-fi literary magazine, Crossed Genres; she is the editor of Beginning of Line, the Caprica fan fiction site; and her essay “Why Joss is More Important Than His ‘Verse” is included in Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon By the Women Who Love Them, which is on sale now wherever books are sold! 2012 will see Teresa’s work in an upcoming non-fiction sci-fi anthology. Get Twitterpated with Teresa, “like” her on Facebook, or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.