If you imagined “Heroes,” but British and “edgy,” then you’d end up with “Misfits,” a show that’s been made popular in America thanks to Hulu bringing it across the pond last year. It’s about a group of young criminals who gain superpowers in a mysterious storm while doing community service, as well as the surprisingly unfortunate luck they have after the storm. But the comparisons are more than skin-deep; looking at “Misfits’” structure over the years reveals a lot of other parallels between the two shows.
Let’s start from the top: The first season of “Misfits” was a tightly-constructed, well-written character drama. The superpowers served the plot, not vice versa; they were tools to draw out each character’s strengths and insecurities and to drive them forward. At the beginning of the show, the characters were bad people; at the end of the first season…well, let’s be honest, they were still bad people, but they had grown in measurable and believable ways.
Then came the second season, and with it, the downward spiral that ended up defining every season of “Heroes” after the first. The plots became incoherent; random recurring characters appeared from nowhere, serving no real purpose; and I don’t even want to talk about the nonsensical Christmas episode. To its credit, there was an excellent subplot about the mysterious “Superhoodie” that delved into the characters of Simon and Alisha, but even that became its own kind of problem when the forgone conclusion was dragged out all the way through season 3.
The new season, which just recently finished airing on Hulu, is somewhere in the middle of those two. It lacks the strong definition that the first season had, but it’s definitely a move in the right direction. I’d even argue that switching out Nathan, the manic character who had a tendency to overshadow everyone else in the first two seasons, for Rudy (whose really just a Nathan-lite to be honest) was actually a good idea for the show since it gave us another character whose growth we can hope for. But the original misfits are dropping like flies, and it’s going to get old fast seeing them replaced by almost identical characters. When a show swaps out their entire cast, it’s a bold move. But phasing them out one by one makes “Misfits” feel more like a show that’s fizzling out—yet another case where the “Heroes” comparison holds strong.
Despite its flaws, though, “Misfits” is a much stronger show throughout than “Heroes” ever was. It’s more grounded; even though it has flights of fancy (like that Christmas episode, or the third season episode where history is altered so the Nazis won WWII), they never last as long as “Heroes’” did. Alisha put it best in the third finale; the misfits aren’t superheroes. “All we’ve ever done is try to defend ourselves from every [person] who’s tried to kill us. We’ve done our best, and if you’ve got a problem with that, then fuck you!”