The Problem with Misfits (Spoilers)

Recently, I’ve been watching Misfits (Overman, 2009) for the first time, and enjoying it. if you haven’t seen it, Misfits is a British television series that follows the lives of five young adults on community service after they are hit by a lightning strike and develop superpowers. There are five seasons of Misfits, but as I have not completed the show I will only be focusing on series one to three.

Series one to three feature the storm that initially starts the events of the plot and the situations the gang find themselves in after. During this time the gang consist of: Kelly Bailey, a ‘chav’ who can hear people’s thoughts (played by Lauren Socha), Curtis Donovan, a former athlete who can travel back in time (played by Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), Simon Bellamy, a loner who can turn invisible (played by Iwan Rheon), Alisha Daniels, a party girl who when touched causes sexual frenzy (played by Antonia Thomas) and Nathan Young, a loudmouth who seemingly has no power in series one (played by Robert Sheehan). He is replaced in series three by Rudy Wade, who can split himself into multiples (played by Joseph Gilgun).

Watching the series, the thing that stood out to me the most was how rushed the storylines were. Many of the plots had incredibly interesting concepts but seemed to get wrapped up very quickly as time had run out. This seemed very obvious to me in the series two Superhoodie storyline. Within a couple of episodes (it may just have been two), Alisha meets the mysterious Superhoodie figure who has been helping them from afar, finds out that Superhoodie is a future version of Simon, and enters a relationship with him, before his fated and violent death. This reveal had been built up through the first series, and was incredibly dramatic. However, I feel it was wasted to a degree due to how quickly it was rushed. Had the storyline gone on over several episodes, the plot could have been extended, ironing out the kinks in the timelines, and the audience could have really fallen in love with Simon and Alisha’s relationship, making Simon’s inevitable death more impactful.

This speeding up of storylines, while present in series one, seemed to me to get worse from series two on. In a way, it seemed as the writers and show runners, after having a successful first season, decided to amp up the stakes and explore more experimental plot lines in the next few series. While there is nothing wrong with this, the show’s structure seemed not always to work with this. Similar to most American produced shows, Misfits is about 40 minutes in length before ads. A lot of these storylines have a lot to explore and unpick, which might be doable in this time scale if not for the subplots in every episode. While, such as the Superhoodie storyline, these sometimes turn into full fledged plots, so of them are only there to build character development, which takes away from the unpicking of the main storyline.

On a re-watch, Misfits can be somewhat problematic in the choices of language used and attitudes towards the characters. However, the characters are interesting enough to pull you into the series, and if they hadn’t been rushed, the storylines would have as well.

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