Heroes Without A Cause: A Look At Misfits

By Arturo R. García

Over the weekend a reader asked us to take a look at Misfits – kind of surprising, since it doesn’t get the attention lavished upon other British shows. But, it’s been fun to list the show as one of my secret pleasures since it debuted last year.

I say “secret” and not “guilty,” because it’s been the kind of under-the-radar show that I hope remains out of the grubby reach of American media outlets. (By the way, if you’re a fan of Skins, my condolences to you in advance. But I digress.) Slight spoilers under the cut.

We don’t get many glimpses into the home lives of the titular quintet, who meet at court-appointed community service. It’s apparent early on that each of them is part of a lower-middle class family, and only Curtis, the ex-track star stuck with the group after a drug bust, is credited with having any ambition before his current situation.  But at the same time, these characters are not easily-dismissed “bad seeds.” Throughout the series, we’ve seen each of them be crass, or creepy, or kind. And unlike the self-important family figures in Heroes, this Breakfast Club gone wrong doesn’t obsess over the abilities they gain after a freak storm. After learning the new rules of the game, they fold the powers into their extended adolescence: partying, popping pills, popping off at the mouth; hitting the pub, or going for ill-advised romantic entanglements.

The show’s debut season last year was six episodes long, allowing each member of the group to get a turn in the spotlight. In Curtis’ case, his attempt to rewrite history led to one of the best uses of time-travel on television in the past decade – more daring than almost anything Doctor Who has pulled off. Here’s the (NSFWish) trailer:

One of the show’s main subplots throughout its’ run has been Curtis’ relationship with Alisha, whose no-nonsense sexuality is turned against her when the storm causes her to drive anyone into a sexual frenzy just by touching them. At first, she revels in the attention, but the thrill doesn’t last long. Regardless, the two of them do share some sweet moments (“You don’t need to use your power on me,” he tells her. “I’m already there.”) even if they can’t actually touch, though they do, uh, get intimate. Sorta.

It’s not spoiling too much to tell you the relationship dissolves in Season Two. But, possibly because short seasons means little time to waste for writer/producer Howard Overman, we’re spared a melodramatic break-up. Instead, the pair simply drifts apart and finds somebody new. Curtis begins seeing another newly super-powered woman, and Lisa finds herself drawn to “SuperHoodie,” first seen at the end of Season One. I’ll leave his identity for you to discover.

It’s also worth noting that, in the group dynamic, neither Lisa nor Curtis is played up or down compared to, say, the wiry wall of snark that is Nathan, the kind of smart-mouthed pretty-boy who would be the de-facto leader in the hands of a lesser show. Bound by two layers of circumstance, the group’s overall alliance is tenuous throughout most of Season One, before finally evolving into friendship this year. But the series has proven to be refreshingly free of clumsy stabs at edginess or navel-gazing over its’ own mythology. As Season Two nears its’ end this week, the characters are still very much in the process of growing up – but they’re not going gently into adulthood by any means.

Critical buzz around Misfits has grown since its’ debut, particularly after the non-BBC show won Best Drama Series at the 2009 BAFTAs. So the chances of somebody like MTV or Syfy attempting to do an awkward “re-imagining” of the series are probably increasing. Luckily, the first season is available on DVD, and Bleeding Cool reported last week that the series has been renewed for a third season. It’s worth your time to catch up.