So, another series of Misfis has been and gone, neatly sidestepping the Difficult Second Season Syndrome which beat Heroes into submission.
I've ranted before on this blog about how superior American TV (especially sci-fi) is to British TV. But Misfits is the one thing giving me hope at the moment. Not only is it great sci-fi, but it could only have been made in Britain. Torchwood's glossy visuals and sexy stars suggest that it wishes it was American (they must have blown all their candles out at once because that wish has come true), but Misfits wears its nationality with pride in every reference to Eastenders, every use of the word "wanker", every explicit sex scene that would never get past the US censors, every evil Jesus.
Misfits is set in a world miles away from the tea-drinking cricket-playing pleasant green countryside of England Through American Lenses. But anyone who lives in this fine ASBO-ridden country will tell you that Misfits is far closer to the truth than the too-grim Eastenders, or the too-cool Skins, or the too-twee interpretation offered in Ugly Betty's ill-advised 'London' jaunt. It just also happens to contain superheroes.
Misfits simply couldn't have been made in the US. Well, I guess it was made in the US. They called it Heroes. But I have a feeling Misfits will be the one I remember the longest. Where Heroes grew poe-faced, crawled up its own backside and introduced a new Nightmare Future every series, Misfits has kept its sense of humour and, most importantly, its sense of the ridiculous. In one episode, time-traveller Curtis received a glimpse into the future in which they are all costumed superheroes. Later in the series Curtis caught up with his own future, and learnt that they were actually just at a costume party. Misfits is forever sneaking up on superhero cliches, then giving them a wedgie and running away.
Howard Overman is a brilliant writer, one who snuck out of virtually nowhere and clobbered us over the head with a work close to genius. I think it's now safe to call him the New Steven Moffat (although Moffat never had an obsession with people fucking melons). It also helps that Misfits has landed one of the best young casts ever collected. Each of the main characters are potentially unlikable. Curits has thrown away his whole future and still not gained much humility, Alisha is a shamelessly manipulative slut, Kelly is a violent chav, Simon is an actual psychopath and Nathan is, in Curtis' oft-repeated description, a prick. And yet we love them all, even when Nathan is trying to get a sweet and innocent healer to touch his infected penis.
Lauren Socha and Iwan Rheon are great as Kelly and Simon - she manages to dig beneath the scraped-back hair and Argos jewellery to find real heart and strength while Rheon makes the creepily unpredictable Simon the show's best wild card. But the real star is Robert Sheehan, stealing the show every week as the frankly vile but always hilarious Nathan, while giving the character a depth not even Nathan himself is aware of.
My only worry going into series 3 after that brilliantly game-changing cliffhanger is that it might be their final series. After all, how long is Channel 4 going to keep hold of that cast and that writer? We may have to say goodbye to such gems as "Save me, Barry!" and "I tripled myself", and British TV will become a cold, dark place again.