There is one major, overriding theme in the first season of Misfits: isolation. Each character in the show has a story deriving from a sense of feeling alone. And despite the fact they spend the majority of their time together, as a group they would hardly be considered a comfortable component of the machine which is society.
Misfits follows five juvenile offenders who have been collectively placed in a community service program for various minor crimes. After they are caught in a freak electrical storm, they quickly start learning they have all acquired a special power of some sort. Each character’s individual power mirrors something about their life. This reviewer is hesitant to reveal said powers and how they mirror each character’s life, simply because one of the most enjoyable things about the show was learning alongside the characters, and learning how, why and when these abilities kick in.
The show has a well-rounded ensemble cast, and already the showrunners seem to know how to perfectly balance the episodes for equal exposure. Nathan (played by Robert Sheehan, pictured above) tends to get a bit more screentime than anyone else, but that can generally be attributed to him being the most dynamic person in the group, but also the one with a lot more going on in his life. Struggling to accept his mother finding happiness, she kicks him out, and he takes up refuge in the community centre he spends most of his time “working” for. Robert Sheehan is an incredibly charismatic performer, so it seems only natural his character would steal most of the spotlight, intentionally or unintentionally, but the showrunners have done an excellent job of avoiding an ensemble cast with a single lead character.
What truly penetrates, though, is that theme mentioned above: isolation. Nathan has been kicked out and lives in the community centre. Simon (Game of Thrones‘ Iwan Rheon) is a shy loner who has been ignored and unacknowledge his entire life. Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) has seemingly lost his entire support network as he struggles to recover from a cocaine arrest, Kelly (Lauren Socha) doesn’t know who to trust, as she’s been constantly judged for her “chav” appearance and lifestyle, and Alisha (Antonia Thomas) is extremely comfortable with her body and sexuality, although it appears she uses those assets to fill an inner void. Together, they form a disfunctional group who band together as they begin to discover their powers, but this does not change them as people, and after the self-defense murder of the probation officer, they are now isolated as a group. They cannot go to the police, because no one will believe their probation officer decided to attack them. They must go this alone, and they must not reveal their powers, lest they be ridiculed again.
What strikes me particularly hard is the fact that all these people are merely teenagers, yet Nathan is the only one who ever mentions his parents, and his mother kicked him out. We see all the characters spending time at home, but not one of them is seen interacting with, or ever talking about his parents, aside from a flashing remark from Curtis, “My mother told me to stay away from girls like you,” as he flirts with Alisha. Simon is often seen in front of a computer, in chat rooms, and when we finally see his house, there are no parents to be seen. This young kid was just put into the psychiactric ward for trying to burn down a bully’s house and his parents are nowhere to be seen.
This is not a slight on the show at all; in fact, the complete absence of any kind of family authority figure compounds on that everlasting feeling of being completely alone, with no one around to help. The show is marketed as a “comedy drama,” but it feels so much more than that. The laughs are never cheap or out of place, the way the cast, particularly Sheehan and Rheon, can perform both comedy and drama so adeptly and one of the best season cliffhangers ever, makes the series feel incredibly real.