If a freak storm started giving random members of the populace superpowers, who would be the best recipients of the gift? Police officers? Fire fighters? Scientists? Certainly not the kind of people who wind up on probation. But that’s the premise of BAFTA-winning British television show Misfits. Heroes, this is not.
Misfits has been available to audiences in the U.S. for months now on Hulu, but last night it made its American television debut on digital cable channel Logo. It’s written and created by sometime Merlin writer Howard Overman, but that’s another show that bears little comparison to Misfits‘ dark and irreverent tone.
We open on an orange jumpsuit being pulled on over a bare set of legs. That’s a pretty good indicator of this show overall: sex and crime. Throw in some drugs, alcohol, and cussing, and we’re covered. Oh, and the superpowers. We get shots of our leads dressing for their first day of community service. Alisha’s the one with the legs, already making adjustments to her uniform. Nathan’s all messy curls and a cigarette dangling from his lips, Simon’s tight-buttoned and collared, Kelly’s bored look is already in place, Gary looks twitchy, and Curtis has an athletic build.
Their probation worker, Tony, is doomed from the start. He’s lecturing the misfits on how they can view their community service as a chance to do something positive with their lives, to help people. Aw, Tony, you sweetheart, you actually seem to care. But you’re clearly not getting anywhere with these kids. This isn’t going to end well for you.
Tony tells them that some people think they’re scum, and now they can prove those people wrong. Already our two comedians are evident: Kelly pulls a great “you are joking, right?” face, and Nathan immediately pipes up: “But what if they’re right? No offense, but I think some people are just born criminals.” Oh Nathan, never change.
Twitchy Gary asks Nathan if he’s looking to get stabbed, and Nathan quirks an eyebrow at their probation officer: “proving my point.” Guys, if I tried to recap every hilarious thing that comes out of Nathan’s mouth we’ll be here all week, so I’ll just have to give the highlights.
The situation quickly devolves, and by the time we’re headed to the credits a fight’s nearly broken out. Curtis is asking for a new group; Kelly accuses him, in a thick London accent that’s gotten everyone else’s forehead wrinkled (and Nathan making snarky comments, as if he’s capable of doing anything else) if he thinks he’s better than them. Twitchy Gary is trying to start a scuffle with Nathan. Aaaand scene.
When we return the misfits are giving benches a coat of whitewash. Twitchy Gary gets paint on his hat and he storms off, as everyone else titters at him. Alisha, who’d unzipped her jumpsuit enough to display her, um, assets, leans over Curtis and is all, I know you, you’re hot, want to get out of here? At least, that’s what her boobs seem to be saying.
What we’re actually playing, though, is a game of: “What’s your crime?” We find out Curtis used to be a famous pro track runner. Nathan prods at Kelly, trying to get her to confess. She accuses him of being rude, and he says that this is a networking opportunity for young offenders to brainstorm and swap tips. Oh, Nathan.
Kelly started brawling with another girl in an Argos, which if I remember correctly from my time studying abroad in England is kind of like a fancy dollar store (at least the one in our town was). Classy. Speaking of class, Nathan turns to Simon: “What about you, weird kid? Don’t take this the wrong way, but you look like a panty sniffer.”
Simon gets the most adorable offended look on his face and firmly replies that he’s not a pervert. Aw, baby duckling. Simon’s just the right mix of tightly wound, awkward, and shy to make my mothering instincts kick in full gear. I want to wrap him in blankets and give him cocoa. I know, I’m weird, I frequently have parenting instincts for fictional characters.
Nathan tries to wheedle Simon into talking by pretending to jack himself off, like a pervert, in front of everyone. As probably happens far too often in his life Nathan is rewarded for his behavior by getting what he wants. Simon blurts out that he tried to burn someone’s house down. Kelly presses Nathan to admit what he did, and Nathan said he was done in for eating some Pick N’Mix. I have no idea what Pick N’Mix is.