Misfits and British Television

TV REVIEW: MISFITS (2009-2013)

A few days ago, I finished watching all 5 seasons of E4’s Misfits (2009-2013, a British science fiction, comedy-drama tv show created by Howard Overman.This is a fairly old (3-4 years ago old) show about a group of young offenders all of whom, while in the middle of their appointed community service, get hit by a freak electrical storm, and as a result of which gain superpowers. There is nothing about this premise that screams hit tv show. In fact, it sounds like this could very well be a lame-ass tv show. Freak electrical storm and superpowers? Pfft. We’ve heard that one before. But Misfits is far from anything you’ve seen on tv. First off  they don’t just get random superpowers, but rather powers that are a reflection of their desires, wants, frustrations, personality, attitude etc. The insecure, withdrawn kid, who almost always feels invisible, gets invisibility powers. The tough chick who always speaks her mind, suddenly gets to hear other people’s thoughts. And the sexually active girl makes anyone go into a sexual frenzy the minute she touches them. Some powers just border on batshit crazy. Like there’s one that controls lactose. Another that causes people to go bald. And one that sees the world like a video game. And it’s all super fun! 

And there are just so many more things to love about this show. It has some of the best jokes, dialogue and one-liners I’ve seen on TV. I think it is an imaginative, and very well written show. So much so, that despite having changed characters during the 4th season, the series is still pretty much as strong as when it started, in my opinion. I mean, I think it is easy for a show like Misfits to lose steam, say somewhere down the 3rd season when people started getting killed, or shipped off to Africa. But surprisingly enough, the writers made it work. They stayed within the bound of the right amount of “kookiness”. And it wasn’t just the superpowers that were sometimes outrageous, some of the plot elements were too, but it easily fits into the kind of weird-ass sci-fi show Misfits advertised itself to be. Nothing felt gratuitous to the point of viewer rating desperation. In short, it is a show that kept its integrity and narrative intact all through the 5 seasons. And it helps that it has a stellar ensemble cast with excellent chemistry, and I am referring to both the original cast and the second one.

BRITISH TV VS AMERICAN TV

Now this got me thinking, what is it about British TV that makes it different from American TV? These two countries being the world’s top TV exporters. Perhaps “culture” is the biggest difference, of course. When you watch a British TV series, the characters drink pints and spend a lot of time in pubs. In American TV they hang out in coffee shops, or bars. And of course, we all know about the dry, sarcastic, ironic British Humor. Although to say that American TV is devoid of sarcasm/irony is a false claim. But the Brits they practically marinade, baste and coat their comedy in irony. As opposed to the Americans who merely sprinkle some on theirs. So there’s that.

Now we all have this idea of the Brits being all uptight and such a stickler for manners and decorum, and yet the most shameless and the most sex and profanity-laced TV shows I’ve seen are from the Brits. Fresh Meat and Misfits alone will keep any censorship board busy. Both shows have so many swear words and sex in them that everything would be either a bleep, or pixellated. I’ve seen some cringe comedy in American TV, and one too many genitalia jokes, sure, but none that are as shameless as the two I’ve mentioned. I wonder if the Brits have lesser restrictions when it comes to violence, profanity and sex?

FAVORITE BRITISH TV SERIES

I am very much into Doctor Who (1963-1989 / 2007-pesent). Yep, I am one of those, Whovians. Although I am a bit uncertain about considering myself as such, and ONLY because I don’t know if there are requirements for you to be considered as one, and whether or not I have passed them. But I do know what TARDIS stands for. And I can spot a Dalek a mile away. And I can probably tell you how to slow down a Slitheen with groceries in your kitchen cupboard. So yeah, I am one of those. I get asked a lot about just what disease the Doctor specializes in. And I have answered one too many times that he isn’t that kind of doctor, and that this is an entirely different show that what that title might suggest. The short of it is, it’s a science fiction show, with aliens and time travelling and earth saving. It has that old timey movie feel to it too. And this is perhaps the only kid-friendly British tv series that I’ve seen. Now, I haven’t caught up with the Capaldi seasons but I heard he has confirmed his exit, and will be appearing for the last time in the 2017 Christmas Special. Now there have been talks about a lady named Phoebe Waller-Bridge as a contender for the role of thirteenth doctor! I haven’t seen any of her work, but I bet she would be awesome! I really hope they take this leap. I mean, it’s about time we get a female doctor!

And then there’s BBC’s Sherlock (2010-2017), which is basically a given. Sherlock is everybody’s favorite deerstalker wearing, sociopath. Now, Mystery and Crime has never been a strong genre for me. I am more a Sci-Fi and Fantasy kind of gal. But if you watch Sherlock, the show isn’t about whatever crime Sherlock is solving. I mean of course the “crime” or solving it is important, but the show isn’t about that. It’s about well, Sherlock. A regular, high-functioning sociopath making his way through life, including weddings and friendship, and it just so happens that he’s really, really good at solving crimes. It also comes as no surprise to me that the creators of this show are the brilliant Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss both wrote and executive produced many a Doctor Who episodes.

And then there’s Channel 4’s Fresh Meat (2011-2016), a British comedy-drama created by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain. This is a show that I would have never guessed I would be so taken by, let alone know about its existence in the first place (Thank you Aaron!). It’s a campus comedy drama with a strong cast of characters that grow (although not always for the better) over the course of the series. And these characters they ended up in places that you wouldn’t have expected them to be. The ones whom you would think have all their college lives all mapped out, (aka the nerds / a-types / overachiever) ended up making the most terrible decisions. But somehow, you don’t feel that their actions and choices are too out of character. And then there’s Vod who is as chaotic as from when she walked into that house. I feel like she’s the same from beginning to end. And I find this to be a good thing, it adds variety. Besides, Vod is the absolute best and I like her the way she is, utterly anarchic. There is not a single character that isn’t memorable in Fresh Meat. I miss this show. Sigh.

So what about you guys? Thoughts on British TV vs American TV? Any memorable British TV viewing experiences?

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