Misfits is currently streaming on Hulu.
Imagine The Breakfast Club with superpowers. That’s basically the premise of Misfits, a British sci-fi dramedy that ran for five seasons (with only a total of 37 episodes) from 2009 to 2013 on British TV channel E4. The series follows a group of young offenders (the titular misfits) performing community service who gain supernatural powers during a freak electrical storm. If you binged the first seasons of Amazon’s The Boys, Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy, or DC Universe’s Doom Patrol, and need something to scratch the itch of dysfunctional superpowered people while waiting for those shows’ second seasons, Misfits will fill that hole in your heart.
Unlike other superheroes who are defined by their powers, everyone in the Misfits’ world are given powers based on their personalities. It’s kind of like The Flash in that way… if The Flash were made on HBO and everyone said the first thing on their mind. Curtis Donovan (Nathan Stewart-Jarret), an Olympics-bound athlete dealing with the guilt of his crime, gets the ability to turn back time. Kelly Bailey (Lauren Socha), a “chav” (read: white trash) who is constantly judged and underestimated by others, can now read people’s minds. Simon Bellamy (Iwan Rheon), the quiet weirdo, can turn invisible. Nathan Young (Robert Sheehan), the most obnoxious one of them all, spends many of the episodes figuring out what his ability may be. Yet beyond the usual list of powers, someone like Alisha Daniels (Antonia Thomas), a promiscuous party girl, gains the ability to drive people into a lust-driven craze just by touch.
Taking a moment to focus on just the caliber of casting on Misfits, you can basically thank this show for some of the best British actors going on to some truly amazing projects. Of course, you have Iwan Rheon who moved on to play the awful Ramsey Bolton on Game of Thrones and starred in the short-lived Inhumans as Maximus. Robert Sheehan would later revisit this sort of smarmy, existentially-ruined man in The Umbrella Academy as Klaus/Number Four. Later seasons of Misfits feature the likes of Ruth Negga and Joe Gilgun, who both ended up on AMC’s Preacher. Jessica Brown Findlay started off as a conservative cult leader on this show and ended up upstairs on Downton Abbey. And the list goes on and on.
The series isn’t shy to explore every possible repercussion/response to these powers either. It’s refreshing to see a series answer those out-there “what if” questions the audience may have about these powers. Most times the situations are hilarious, such as Kelly hearing her dog admit that he just groomed himself before she let him lick her on her lips. Sometimes they answer the fundamental question of someone’s perversion, like if they could turn invisible as Simon watches Kelly and Alisha change. But the show’s strength lies in the ability to “go there,” even if it’s not the easiest thing to watch sometimes, especially with an ability as precarious as Alisha’s where lust can turn violent instantly. It’s a tricky line to walk, but Misfits does so with tact and wit, and without sacrificing its voice.
Overall, Misfits is a funny, dark, and always entertaining romp. The characters are unforgettable and some plotlines are truly too insane to believe without seeing them. These powers are not blessings and Misfits fully explores that reality for these characters, no holds barred. While never truly forced or inspired to become “heroes” right off the bat, the stories these misfits follow have them deal with more nefarious things like getting away with murder, time travel, superpower black markets, zombies, and Satanism. You know, the other fun things you deal with when you have powers.
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Binge It! is IGN’s recommendation series. Movies, TV shows, books, comics, music… if you can binge it, we’re here to talk about it. In each installment of Binge It!, we’ll discuss a piece of content we’re passionate about — and why you should check it out.