Is anyone else sort of over the larger than life superheroes that fight gargantuan enemies in big cities, in space, or both? I know I am. In America it seems we have this predisposition that super powers equal super heroes. However, in reality we all know that just because a person had super powers it did not mean they’d use them to better humankind. Getting super strength or the ability to fly doesn’t magically disintegrate all the bitterness and anger that we naturally build up to the society and other people that surround us. For those looking for a real superhero story, introduce yourself to the Misfits, an import from the UK gets the super hero formula right.
The series stars five juvenile youth scheduled to do community service at a local recreational center. There’s Nathan, the wildly misbehaved, you-want-to-hate-him-but-you-can’t, jerk, played by Robert Sheehan. There’s Kelly, the swing-first-ask-questions-later, no-nonsense, street tough, played by Lauren Socha. There’s Curtis, the troubled ex-athlete, played by Nathan Stewart-Jarrett. There’s Alisha, the beautiful (and she knows), party-girl, played by Antonia Thomas. And last, but not least, there’s Simon, an extreme introvert, who also plays the role of the observer, played by Iwan Rheon. Together, they form a frequently ineffective group of heroes… but that’s the fun of it!
First things first though—the group is imbued with “super powers” after a mysterious storm strikes the city. Throughout the first episode, the group discovers their new powers. But, the twist is that their powers aren’t in fact that effective. I won’t reveal what the powers are, because that’s one of the big plot devices of the show, and I know when I watched the first time the process of discovering their powers was extraordinarily interesting. But, what I can tell you is that none of them have super strength or the power of telekinesis. There’s no laser vision or flying. And let me tell you, it’s refreshing! They become like the Avengers… if the Avengers were actually realistic.
The Misfits succeeds at making heroes who aren’t shining, glittering examples of redemption or human decency. However, they also are not anti-heroes, a concept that has become almost as cliché as their kind-hearted counterparts throughout the years. The simplest definition of the characters in the show is that they are young, and human. They make mistakes and poor decisions because they’re twenty-somethings trying to find themselves in the world. Each of them has their own baggage, which motivates them, and oftentimes hurts them. You empathize with the characters because it feels real.
Nothing, however, matches the genuine nature of the characters’ take on being “super heroes”. The group refuses the title of super heroes, choosing instead to do all they can to keep their secret powers, y’know… secret. That’s not to say that they don’t teeter on the idea of living the grand life of a superhero. But it is their acknowledgement that they don’t care enough about everyone else to be superheroes that strikes home. The entire concept of a superhero is that they put their lives at risk for the lives of the strangers all around them. It sounds fun, in theory, but when it’s your life on the line would you really be so willing?
Blending reality, comedy, tragedy, and romance, The Misfits is truly an unmatched television series. I’m not trying to sound like the hipster, everything-in-America-sucks type, but there is nothing in the U.S. that offers as product like The Misfits. The easiest place to access the show is through Hulu Plus, but you can also buy the seasons online. (Let’s keep it legal y’all.)
Be warned. The original cast of characters changes after season three, so you have to be adaptable with the series. Give it a chance. I know it can be hard to let new characters into your heart, but you can find love again. A show like the Misfits is worth it the pain, because you experience a media product that challenges so many of the tropes that you’ve grown accustomed to. It might sound cheesy, but there’s nothing quite like the experience of watching a TV show that breaks from the pack. Challenge yourself to watch something new. Don’t drink the Avenger/Marvel/etc. Kool-Aid.