It’s described as Heroes crossed with Buffy, which applies if we evaluate the British series Misfits on the shallowest of surface details. Yes, it involves superpowers and teenagers, but that’s where the connections end.
As far as origin stories go, this one isn’t very interesting. A mysterious hail storm blows in, and then everyone has a superpower. The powers vary in effectiveness, to the point that some can hardly be called ‘super.’ The oddest of all the powers goes to Alisha. Anyone touching her is instantly overwhelmed with an uncontrollable, and pretty derogatory, lust. It seems a cruel power for a girl whom most would label a slut.
It also stretches the definition of what a superpower is. The X-Men universe has Squirrel Girl, who has the mutant ability to talk to squirrels. That power seemed kind of pointless; but at least it isn’t self-destructive like Alisha’s. Even Rogue, whose ability to suck the life force from others prevents her from touching anyone, can use that power effectively in a fight. But how does it benefit Alisha to turn everyone into a raving sex fiend?
Early in the series, she embraces her power, using it to have indiscriminate sex with anyone she has a passing interest in. But in doing so, she takes away their right to consent, making her, in practice, a rapist. Perhaps she saw it as payback of all the times men had sought to use her; or maybe she thought that the lust per power provoked in others was a true reflection of themselves?
But then, she isn’t the only only with a poetically justified power. Simon, the loner whom no one pays attention to, is gifted with the power of invisibility, and Kelly, who is subject to constant, whispered ridicule, is given the ability to read people’s minds, thus learning what they truly think of her.
The five kids, who were in the midst of a community service detail when the storm hit, are not the most worthy recipients of superpowers (but then again, they aren’t all that super). The show devotes a lot of time to casting its characters in a sympathetic light. All of them had, for one reason or another, had a hard life that ultimately made them act out in a negative way. Though they aren’t ‘evil,’ the cast is refreshingly not ‘good’ either. They are selfish and lazy, and highly disrespectful to anyone outside of their group.
In line with their characters, the kids do not, as many others in similar stories often do, become superheroes. One of the things that really sets this series apart from others in the genre is that the powers don’t change them. If anything; they only intensify their problems; further separating them from civilized society, and making small obstacles infinitely worse.
Does that make Misfits a more realistic take on the superhero genre? Is it reasonable to think that superpowers would not change a person for good or bad? One thing is for sure; it certainly makes it a more entertaining take on the concept than we usually see. The characters are not archetypes; not good guys or bad. They are just highly-flawed people whose lives have been made much more complicated.
The six episodes of the first season are spread across two DVDs (this show was not released on Bl-ray for some reason).