Fine Young Criminals

Misfits, E4's new superheroes with ASBOs drama, kicks off tonight. Here's five things you need to know about the show...

Isn’t it strange how the lion’s share of superpowers are dished out to fine, upstanding citizens, all too eager to sign up for a life of saving the world? The balance is about to be redressed in six-part E4 drama Misfits, in which a group of teens on community service get a dose of super. “You remember those shows in the ‘80s like Knight Rider and the A-Team, where being a hero was really easy?” asks show creator Howard Overman. “I wanted to do a show where life for the heroes was much more complicated, where what they had to do wasn’t exactly clear and where, even when they do heroic things, people will always misjudge their actions and actually think they’re being antisocial.”

Before the Daily Mail gets all uptight about kids with ASBOs hogging all the superpowers – the result of being struck by a “supernatural storm” on their first day of community service – they should note that Misfits’ central quintet are unlikely to give Superman a run for his money. “I didn’t want them to have fantastic powers that would solve their problems too easily,” explains Overman. “Their powers are extensions of their desires or personalities rather than being random [one party-loving member of the group can make anyone randy by touching them]. I wanted their powers to be a complication of their personal lives. They’re very much coming to terms with their powers and they cause them great problems.”

You’ve got your superpowers – surely the next thing on your to-do list should be picking up a garish Lycra costume. Apparently not. “The world is much more real than that,” says Overman. “Their superhero uniforms, if you like, are the orange jumpsuits they’re made to wear while they’re doing community service. It’s our piss take of the idea of superhero costumes. But they don’t don them to do good deeds around town – obviously they have to keep doing their community service, even after they’ve got their powers.”

“We had the idea that even if they didn’t have any powers, the story should still work on a dramatic level,” explains Overman. “The stories of the week generally come from the characters personal lives, so the genre elements of the show give a twist to more traditional teen stories. They’re by no means angels – they go off the rails and sometimes misuse their powers – but hopefully it should never stop us from liking them.”

America may have invented the superhero, but Misfits is undoubtedly straight out of Blighty – that’ll be the problem teens. “Shaun Of The Dead played around with the zombie genre in a very British way, and I guess we’re trying to do the same thing with superheroes,” Overman explains. “It’s very much a scaled down, very British take on the superhero genre. They treat their powers humorously, so there’s knowing references to the genre when they mess up or feel something didn’t go as it should in a traditional superhero show.”

Misfits starts on E4 tonight at 10pm. This story originally appeared in SFX 188. You can watch the trailer for the show here .

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