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Misfits Case Study

Rob Miller | Tuesday August 30, 2016

Categories: GCSE, OCR GCSE, Television, Television Comedy

Misfits is a situation comedy about young offenders who are sent to work on a community service program. Initially sitcom conventions and stereotypes are evident: exaggerated characters, familiar locations and each character with their own storyline; however, Misfits offers a set of unique selling points (USPs). This allows the programme to deviate from convention that is one of the key audience appeals for its young, educated target audience.

For example, each episode may focus on one character’s story as opposed to the collective group. Often this character is killed off, only to be replaced with another delinquent who may serve the same comedic role (see Only Fools and Horses when ‘Granddad’ was replaced by ‘Uncle’). Another USP of the show is that unlike most situation comedies, Misfits does not always follow a traditional three act structure e.g. a beginning (problem and characters introduced), the middle (main developmental action points) and the end or resolution (closure, story resolved).

Instead, Misfits can have a narrative that rolls over to the next episode, a cliffhanger involving a specific character which also prevents the programme from being fully analysed using a Todorovian model of Equilibrium, Disruption, Resolution and New Equilibrium: narrative arcs underpin the whole series. This all creates an enigmatic representation that helps Misfits achieve a degree of critical success for its originality and invention.

By far the most interesting USP is the representation of youth. Audiences are initially confronted with stereotypes of young criminals or ‘chavs’ who have committed crimes and who are totally selfish, only concerned with themselves. Even the casual viewer who ‘dips in and out’ of Misfits though will see very soon that this stereotype is challenged by the fact that each character has special powers that they gained after a freak electric storm. This suggests a hybridisation with...

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