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Misfits Christmas Special - The Ex-Communicator

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December 21st, 2010

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01:09 pm - Misfits Christmas Special
I was a little disappointed by the Christmas Special of Misfits, after whole-heartedly embracing Season 2 as a TV triumph. I think possibly my expectation was too high. I expected the 'special' to top the season, and how could it - the season was a coherent narrative, the special was a bauble. Also, I need to come to terms with shock-television. The shocks in season 2 were validated by being part of a meaningful story, which was quite redemptive and beautiful. The Christmas Special occupies an awkward position - the characters have each reached a contingent redemption, before a new cycle begins.

But because it's outside the compelling story-arc of Season 2, the Special has made me think about how Misfits uses shocks, deliberately offensive bum-showing. Like Nathan stamping on the placenta because he thinks it's The Alien, and the blood going in Simon's face. It reminds me of when Monty Python was first shown. I don't want you to think I am saying 'Oh boy, this is great because it will piss off my parents' (I am my parents) or 'Hey look at me, I am really down with the kids'. And I think that self-consciousness about 'what do I look like, that I like this' is part of what I struggle with.

But, nevertheless I think the shocks in Misfits continue to be A Good Thing, and the handling of sexuality and gender is - you know, not perfect - but positive. Much better than it was at the start of Season 1, and better than in most British shock-television.

For instance contrast the treatment of a woman peeing herself, in Little Britain and in Misfits. This is still quite a shocking thing to show in a comedy program I think. In Little Britain the humour is entirely directed at the woman - David Walliams as an old lady - she is ridiculous. In Misfits, a pregnant girl pisses herself because the baby is settling in her pelvis, an hour or so before she gives birth. She's not made ridiculous by this. The joke is not on her. Nathan continues to kiss her, Simon is discomfited, but that's his problem. Female physicality is not portrayed as inherently disgusting, but neither is it softened even one speck.

The issue of Alisha's sexual power - is it coercive, does it make her a rapist or a victim - was dealt with quite decisively and effectively, and we saw Simon developing his sexuality by learning from his woman.

I think an issue I have is that the creators of the show, the writer and the actors, probably everybody, have come to care for the characters. And I totally sympathise, because I care for them too, but it makes me worry about where it can go next. Season 2 showed them starting to grow up, and if the show undermines that, making them regress for the sake of a new season that would make me sad. But on the other hand, a third season where they are mature and effective would be a very different show. So where does it go next? Perhaps they need an arch-nemesis and he or she needs to be a wonderful character.

(7 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2010 07:19 pm (UTC)
There are probably not many spoilers but I would appreciate a cut, please. :) Haven't seen the end of s2 or the special yet.
[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2010 07:33 pm (UTC)
Ok fair enough, I don't think it is spoilery though

PS - I should remember livejournal puts the whole thing onto people's f-page and be more careful - sorry

Edited at 2010-12-22 03:04 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:December 22nd, 2010 01:29 pm (UTC)
The issue of Alesha's sexual power - is it coercive, does it make her a rapist or a victim - was dealt with quite decisively and effectively, and we saw Simon developing his sexuality by learning from his woman.

I loved this. When we saw Jesus abuse Alisha's power so flagrantly and then Curtis firmly state that Alisha raped him I was so proud of this show. It really restored any loss of faith that I had originally had due to the handling of gender.

It makes me feel that Howard Overman knew exactly what he was doing from the beginning and that he was aware of all of the meesed up gender dynamics.

a third season where they are mature and effective would be a very different show

I don't think we have to worry too much about that. Because while these characters are growing and maturing they still have a very long way to go before they actually are mature and effective.

Take Simon for instance. He's grown so much and he is no longer this cripplingly insecure creepy kid. But his insecurity is still a major part of him and the way that he relates to people. The aftermath of the first sex scene with Alisha in this episode was one of the best moments in terms of consistent characterization and growth at the same time.

"I hate thinking about you with him."
"You'll always love him more than you love me."

The second statement in particular is interesting because while it is still deeply insecure and very realistic for Simon to think it is still a growth from where he started in S1 or even the beginning of S2. He doesn't say that Alisha doesn't love him or that she only loves f!Simon and not him but rather makes a comparative statement. Is it weird that I view that as growth? Because I feel that the Simon of earlier episodes wouldn't even have taken it into consideration that Alisha loves him. This one states it as fact. But while he is secure in the knowledge that Alisha loves him he wonders of she loved the other him more. I don't know that sort of blew my mind the first time I watched it.

And then the first statement. I absolutely believe that Simon doesn't view f!Simon as an extension of himself. To him that is a completely different person while to Alisha and to an extent the audience f!Simon is just a slightly different version of the same person.

I love the fact that the show acknowledges this, that f!Simon's interference is now going to be this big complication in S/A's relationship. And that even if intellectually Simon knows that it is/was "him" it still feels as if Alisha was with another person and he hates thinking about that.

Edited because spelling is essential.

Edited at 2010-12-22 01:31 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:December 22nd, 2010 03:13 pm (UTC)
Howard Overman knew exactly what he was doing from the beginning

Thanks for your thoughtful response. I wish I knew whether Overman was aiming here the whole time. It seems a much more complex show now. Was he always taking us there, or is this in response to intelligent push-back from fans? I mean, either is good IMHO.

On the maturity thing - I want my cake and eat it - I can't see Nathan as a dad, but I'd hate to see him flipping off the responsibility either, so I hope that transition is handled well. I want Simon to be happy, but I love seeing him miserable. And so on. I always want 'happily ever after' to be after - further along - jam tomorrow.
[User Picture]
Date:December 22nd, 2010 05:39 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! I love reading your thoughts about things, they always make me think.

One of my favorite quotes, I think it's from Veronica Mars, is "happily ever after is for stories that haven't ended yet" or something snarky like that.

It's not that I don't want them to be happy, it's that there are ways to be happy and still interesting and in need of growth and improvement. Just because you get what you've always wanted for instance doesn't make your life immediately perfect.
[User Picture]
Date:December 23rd, 2010 10:30 pm (UTC)
I loved the episode myself, but the story seemed to end so nicely with the prior episode that the Christmas one felt extraneous. The character death seemed tacked on to make a segue into a third season that wasn't originally planned for (I know nothing about the realities of the production, just guessing here from clues).

But the sheer awful hilarity of it really appealed to me, however much it was a bit dissonant with what's gone before. I'm deeply intrigued by my reaction to the pitch-dark humor, which took several episodes to register on my brain. Laughter bursts out of me in short, sharp, loud guffaws. It's an entirely new sensation--I think because American television just does not go to those places.
[User Picture]
Date:December 23rd, 2010 10:38 pm (UTC)
I think you are right that it was somewhat hastily put together to clear the decks for a new season. That's how it seemed to me anyway. It's a lot rougher round the edges than what I normally watch, but it's so full of energy.

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