Have you Been Watching…Misfits?

Rudy's the new guy: but is he a hit or a misfit?

Spot the odd one out: 1) Heroes, 2) Misfits 3) Celebrations…

That’s right: one is a song by Pulp and the other two are unimaginative, half hearted Christmas presents given almost exclusively to diabetics and dieting office colleagues.

We’re now up to Series 3 of Misfits, and if you’ve never seen it before then you’ve almost certainly been living in some kind of wolf-filled cave in the Carpathian mountains and subsisting on a diet of nuts, wild berries and leftover tins of crap Christmas chocolate.

However, even cave dwellers might have heard of it from passing travellers and herdsmen- if so, it was probably described to you as ‘sort of like that US thing Heroes. But British. Really really British.’

And they’d be right. The only way Misfits could be more British is if it also starred a Winston Churchill impersonator and Cat Bin Lady.

We’re not talking ‘tea and crumpets with the vicar’ British though. Oh no: this is the Britain of council estates, ASBOs, ‘Am I Bovvered’ and Jeremy Kyle. It’s the Britain of riots, raw humour, theft and violence. And it’s brilliant: the first two series received almost universal acclaim from viewers and critics alike.

One of the main praise-magnets was the frankly mesmerising Nathan (Robert Sheehan), a wisecracking, irreverent, amoral, mop-haired ball of energy. He’s the kid at school who would have been told he was so sharp he’d cut himself…when he wasn’t excluded for microwaving the hamster, that is.

Initially painted as an outsider, Nathan spent most of series 1 feeling a bit left out. He didn’t appear to have developed a power after the electrical storm in episode one, whereas feisty Alisha gained the power to send men a bit, er, ‘rapey’ with a single touch; cripplingly shy Simon got invisibility; Kelly the Wonder Chav was granted the ability to hear thoughts and regretful Curtis learnt he could turn back time (and presumably also find a way/to take back those words he’d hurt you/so you’d stay).

The excellent Series 1 finale eventually revealed Nathan’s power: immortality, leading to his Kenny-from-South-Park- like status in Series 2.

It’s entirely possible Robert Sheehan’s decision not to return for Series 3 was entirely motivated by not wanting to spend 14 hours a day in makeup having a papier-mâché chainsaw painstakingly glued to his head. But where does Nathan’s departure leave Series 3, currently airing on E4 at 10pm on Sunday nights.

Well, in a pretty good place, actually.

It’s hard to believe, but foul-mouthed, hyper-confident sex pest Rudy (Joe Gilgun) has stepped into- and filled- Robert Sheehan’s giant clown shoes admirably. This is possibly because Rudy isn’t just one person: the producers picked up the character as part of a buy-one-get-one-free offer.

Rudy is a doppelgänger. His less confident twin usually lives inside his body but pops out from time to time to worry aloud about getting chlamydia or generally mope about something. It’s like some kind of horrific experiment from a rejected AA Milne book where Eeyore’s left permanently fused to Tigger.

The only real gripe with Rudy is that the misanthropic, glum version of himself is very underused: it seems they’ve yet to find a practical use for his power…other than swapping places ion a police station toilet so the confident version can continue his search for the girl who used her power to make his penis shrivel and fall off. As you do.

The writers have also rebooted the team’s superpowers via a handy character called Seth, an ex-drug dealer who’s able to take other people’s powers and swap them around.

This was a great way to refresh the series and the central concept, although Curtis’s new power (to turn into a girl) seemed like little more than an excuse to film an attractive young lady having lots of exploratory wanks in cupboards.

There was one plotline where Curtis managed to find out more about women by entering into a lesbian relationship, which also involved him dealing with a horrible date rape scenario, but at the time of writing he’s now given that power back to cancel out a looming pregnancy. On the whole, it feels like a bit of a missed opportunity to explore questions of gender identity…by watching a hot ladyman doing it to herhimself in a cupboard.

In fact, all the powers seem to have taken a bit of a back seat this series. Simon’s occasional forays into precognition have played second fiddle to his continuing attempts to master council estate Parkour and turn himself into a superhero- although apart from the ‘Penny Crayon’ style comic-books-coming-to-life episode, we’ve not really seen much development there either.

To a degree, it’s testament to how interesting the characters themselves are that the powers somehow seem less important this series- they’re not part of their identity: just the cherry on top.

Unfortunately the writers’ faith in the characters doesn’t seem to extend as far as the plots. The ‘Nazi’ episode was a bit of a daft mess, and from the preview clip below it looks like this week’s episode will feature zombies.

Knowing Misfits, it’ll almost certainly be scatological, gory and funnier than a Shaun of the Dead/Zombieland mashup, But with just two episodes to go and many threads left untied, do we really need theme episodes?

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The next episode of Misfits is on Sunday, 10pm, E4

You can follow Hilary on Twitter here

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About Hilary Wardle
Hilary is a freelance journalist and copywriter who writes for a wide range of websites, magazines and newspapers, including Buzzfeed, MSN, The Poke, Chortle, the Guardian and the Independent. She specialises in arts and entertainment, comedy, video games and viral content. Contact her at Hilary3@gmail.com.

3 Responses to Have you Been Watching…Misfits?

  1. Hilary Wardle says:

    I’d just like to take a moment to thoroughly thank my pal Andrew for introducing me to Misfits this time last year. Bloomin’ marvellous programme.

  2. Great piece, as always. But the Go Compare character couldn’t be more Italian if he tried.

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