Save Me, Barry!: A Review of Misfits

Sometimes the stories we feel closest to and enjoy the most are the ones that create a feeling of pastiche in our hearts and minds. A cluster of false memories in which we long for an imagined past that reminds us of who we wished we’d become. Who we wished we had known, friends and lovers that well-developed fictional characters make us crave. Through them we revisit our own feelings — real or imagined — of the highs and lows in life. And, if those characters happen to have supernatural abilities they can inspire feelings of longing we can’t even explain. Alongside the lust, love, pity, fear, and loss we feel for them, there’s this added dimension of wishing we could become invisible, immortal, turn back time, or simply read other people’s thoughts. Any of us who have had the experience of being an outsider can relate to the overwhelming desire to be accepted, even if it’s by a group of misfits like you.

MISFITS Titles from MOMOCO Film Titles on Vimeo.

I’ve been dying to talk about the BBC television show, Misfits, which is currently streaming on Hulu. My desire to talk about the show is two-fold: First, the show itself is a wonderful SFF dark comedy about young adults facing unexpected complications in an already complicated time of their lives. And second, I’m going to discuss a very fuckable fictional character, Simon Bellamy (stay tuned, post coming tomorrow).

If you haven’t watched the show, I highly recommend it, because it has a lot going for it. It’s darkly funny and chock full of dick jokes, and oddly enough commentary on the spectrum of sexuality and gender politics. It’s necessarily violent, and people die. Violently. It has a wonderfully diverse cast of young actors you will grow to love. At the heart of this SFF show about young adults gaining superpowers from a freak storm, there’s a love story. Several love stories. And most importantly, an interracial love story.

ATTENTION: SPOILERS AHEAD

The show opens with a group of young people showing up for their first day of community service. They don’t know each other, and at first glance, you can tell that they all lead very different lives. Obviously, none of them want to be there, but each of them has committed some offense and now must work off their sentences by picking up trash, scrubbing graffiti off the walls of the community center that acts as their home base, painting benches, and participating in other community events like dances for the elderly, and art therapy for the mentally ill, while wearing orange jumpsuits.

Jumpsuits

We begin to get a picture of their personalities as they complain about being forced to do community service, show disrespect for their parole worker and each other. Curtis, an athletic dark-skinned guy complains about having to work with the other people, saying over and over that he shouldn’t even be there. He thinks he’s better than the rest of them. Kelly is a Class-A Chav with an attitude and a taste for violence. Initially, she doesn’t seem especially smart, but turns out to be an excellent problem solver and survivor. And, aside from Simon, she ended up being my favorite character.

Wanker

Alisha is a pretty light-skinned black girl who uses her good looks to manipulate people and get what she wants. However, she was unable to talk her way out of a drink driving stop when she fails the breathalyzer. She is desperate for attention and uses sexuality in place of personality until people start treating her with kindness and respect. Nathan is a hysterically funny and morally corrupt prick who ends up making us feel a lot of sympathy and pity. He’s a wanker with a heart of gold. And then there’s Simon. A painfully shy, comic book reading nerdy boy with his shirts buttoned all the way up to the neck. He’s cute and delightfully creepy in his social awkwardness that borders of psychopathic behavior. Initially, we don’t know why any of them is there, but slowly, their stories unfold.

Complaints

On their first day, a freak storm comes out of nowhere, dropping hailstones the size of soccer balls that are heavy enough to cave in a car roof and break through pavement. Their probation worker, Tony, yells for them to take cover and they run toward the community center for shelter. Before he can unlock the door, each of them is hit by lightning and knocked silly. At least, five of the young people and Tony are hit. Another young offender misses the storm, because he’s hiding out in the men’s room smoking a joint. He stomped off after getting paint on his cap, and never came back to finish his assigned task.

Kelly is the first to notice that she’s developed a power. A few weird things happened the night before, but now she’s certain something is different. She can overhear what people are thinking. And, like Sookie Stackhouse, she realizes that people are twisted and disgusting, and you really don’t want to know what most of them are thinking. Especially their thoughts about you.

The next day they show up at the community center and the kid with the cap isn’t there. Their all a bit too self-absorbed and freaked out by the storm to even really notice that he’s missing. While getting ready for the day, Simon discovers his ability in the locker room. Ironically, the one that everyone tends to ignore is able to turn invisible. No one notices him disappear and we get our first peek at the anger and frustration bubbling beneath Simon’s quiet surface.

Tony gives them their assignment for the day. No one notices that Simon is missing, but he eventually becomes visible again and joins the others outside. While cleaning graffiti off a wall, Kelly asks if anyone else is experiencing anything weird since the storm. Nathan makes fun of her, but Simon speaks up and says that he was able to turn invisible. No one believes him either.

At some point, someone thinks the wrong thing about Kelly and she storms off, overwhelmed by her feelings and her fears about this new ability. Whiles she’s off having a smoke and a good cry, we soon realize that the parole worker has also been affected by the storm. He developed an uncontrollable need for violence that looks a lot more like the Rage Virus in 28 Days Later rather than the Hulk wanting to smash. Running for her life, Kelly seeks the safety of the community center and tries to warn the others. She’s terrified and locks the door behind her, but none of them believe her. Nathan is a smart ass know-it-all, and opens the door just as Tony approaches and he kills Kelly by hitting her over the head with a sharp-edged piece of metal.

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That’s when Curtis discovers his power. The emotional overload of seeing Kelly murdered triggers his power, and he is able to turn back time and warn them about Tony. He still gets in the building, but Kelly has enough time to hit him over the head with a paint bucket. Repeatedly. Tony’s murder was admittedly self-defense, but Kelly knows that no one will believe them based on their records. In the process of figuring out what to do, they find the kid with the cap stuffed into one of the lockers. Now they have two dead bodies to deal with, and while everyone is freaking out, Simon calmly says, “No body, no crime.”

Bound together by a freak supernatural event and murder, they hide the bodies and prepare for whatever happens next. Amazingly enough, they deal with the unusual circumstances pretty well, and even manage to laugh at themselves and each other. Of course, we soon discover that their problems are only just beginning. Alisha’s power is more of a curse than an ability, and we don’t discover Nathan’s until we’re well into the first season.

After burying Tony, their new probation worker, Sally, arrives and suspects them of killing her co-worker and fiance. It is through this character’s interactions with Simon that we begin to see the darker sides of him, but also develop an emotional connection with him that makes him one of the most interesting characters. Despite his creepy good looks and spooky intelligence, he has the best character arc in the series. He goes through a personality transformation that made me want to pay closer attention to the beautiful Welsh actor who plays Simon Bellamy, Iwan Rheon. Apparently, I need to start watching Game of Thrones again.

As the series progresses, we get to see how these supernatural abilities change each character and the society around them. The characters experience a variety of outcomes at the extreme end of the consequences spectrum based on the choices they make out of selfishness, for the sake of love, or the belief that they’re helping others. The show is a lot of fun to watch, but the it also gives you some tasty food for thought. I dare you to watch only one episode. I bet you can’t.

Fuckable Fictional Characters: Mr. Spock

When I was a little girl growing up in the heart of Pennsyltucky, I lived with my mom’s family in a small town where I was one of few if not the only person of color. Everyone around me was white. Pretty much everyone I saw on TV was white. There were a few exceptions, but most of the women of color I saw on TV were usually characters who had very little power. They were either in the background serving the people around them, or they were sexualized objects. There weren’t a lot of role models out there for a young ethnically mixed person of color for me to relate to in popular culture. Then I started watching Star Trek.

Not only was there a woman of color who served on the bridge as the communications officer of a starship, but she was also friends with a handsome alien who was, like me, the child of a “mixed marriage.” Science Fiction provided me with two people I could not only relate to, but also admire as role models. Lieutenant Nyota Uhura gave women of color hope and the courage to step outside of the expectations society had in mind for us. And, Mr. Spock’s ethnic heritage was one of his strengths, not a weakness like he was led to believe while growing up on Vulcan. These two characters had a profound influence on me at a very young age. I identified with both of them and wanted to be just like them when I grew up. I’m still waiting to be invited to Star Fleet Academy, but I haven’t given up hope.

Today’s post is going to be a little different than the previous ones. I’m going to talk about two characters instead of just one. I know these posts are supposed to be talking about totally fuckable fictional characters and I intend to stick with that theme. However, today I’m also going to talk about two characters who I always imagined coming together as a couple when I was a child. As an adult, my dreams came true.

February 22: Mr. Spock and Nyota Uhura

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Leonard Nimoy and Nichelle Nichols

I am aware that many die-hard Star Trek fans were confused and a bit unsettled by the decision to make Mr. Spock and Lieutenant Uhura a couple in the 2009 film, Star Trek. I couldn’t have been happier. It’s like someone had been flipping through the files of my childhood fantasies and granted me a secret wish. So, for the fans who either don’t understand their relationship or for some reason oppose it, feel free to get over it.

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Zachary Quinto and Zoe Saldana

In the famous scene in which the first interracial kiss in television history took place between Uhura and Kirk, the original script was written for Spock and Uhura to share that kiss. According to Nichelle Nichols: “My understanding is Bill Shatner took one look at the scene and said, ‘No you will not! If anyone’s going to be part of the first interracial kiss in television history, it’s going to be me!’ So they rewrote it.”

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Fuck you, Captain Kirk. I’m almost 100% sure that if I would have witnessed Spock and Uhura kissing as a child, my teen dating experiences would have gone a lot differently. And, I’m pretty sure we would have seen some super sexy episodes of Star Trek after that. Whelp, I guess that’s what fan fiction is for. Am I right?

When I was a kid Mr. Spock was one of my favorite characters. Period. I always preferred him to Captain Kirk, and was usually puzzled, especially after I hit puberty, about why Kirk got so many chicks and Spock was practically celibate. Clearly, he was more attractive, more intelligent, gifted in ways that resembled magic, and he respected all people regardless of where they came from. He had a childhood that I could empathize with, and his differences often made him seem like an outsider. He was usually the voice of reason, and he had some of the best wisdom to offer his friends and colleagues.

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In the original series, Spock has a few flirtations with women from time to time, and he was engaged to a Vulcan woman as part of an arranged marriage. In a society where emotions are not valued, the concept of love is irrelevant when it comes to marriage. Marriages are arranged for more practical reasons. And, I would imagine one of the primary reasons to wed is to deal with pon farr, the hormonal imbalance Vulcans experience every 7 years that triggers the need for sexual intercourse, preferably with a mate. If a Vulcan is unable to have sex with a mate or another object of desire, the consequences could be insanity and/or death.

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The fact that Mr. Spock could potentially go insane if he doesn’t get laid makes him an extremely interesting character. I mean, who doesn’t want a partner who is literally driven wild by desire. Chemical imbalance or not, that is totally hot. Vulcans are able to have sex at other times, despite the fact that some people thought that Spock and his fellow Vulcans were only interested in sex every seven years. Pon farr is simply a biological impulse that helps ensure procreation. An antiquated ritual is performed and then the person experiencing the hormonal imbalance has sex with their mate or object of desire to alleviate the symptoms. Unless your mate chooses someone else.

Okay, that’s enough about Mr. Spock’s sex life. Just kidding.

Despite the fact that Mr. Spock is an alien from a planet that prizes a lack of emotions as a sign of superiority, he’s usually the one character who is most in touch with his emotions. Perhaps it is because he spends so much time trying to deny that he has any, that he actually has a better grasp of emotional maturity and can empathize with others when they are feeling extreme states of any emotion. His humanity makes him passionate and caring, a loyal friend, but his alien appearance makes him somehow sexier than the human men on the Enterprise. Don’t get me wrong; Scotty and Chekov are both hot in their own ways, but Mr. Spock’s appearance has always been more appealing to me than any other character. His pointy ears, shiny coal black hair, large, devilish eyebrows and tall, slim body created a blueprint in my young mind of what attractive men should look like. Alien. Devilish. Vampiric. Otherworldly. Yeah, that sounds about right.

Spock-Shirtless

Leonard Nimoy was obviously my first Spock, and he will always have a special place in my heart. In fact, I couldn’t imagine anyone else filling those black pointy-toed boots. Until an actor who plays some of my favorite psychos, Zachary Quinto, put on the pointy ears and Spock stole my heart all over again.

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Quinto’s Spock is a bit more emotional that Nimoy’s, but Leonard Nimoy gave his blessing when Zachary was chosen to take on the role of Spock.

tears

Tears shed by a Vulcan are 10 times more touching.

And, most importantly, Quinto’s Spock gets to kiss Uhura. And judging by that kiss, we can all infer that there’s more than just kissing between these two. They kiss as if there has been intimacy between them for some time. Their kiss not only satisfied one of my childhood desires, it was totally hot and worth the wait. The sexy, dark-haired, modest science officer got the girl instead of the womanizing jackass captain. I don’t know about everybody else, but this geeky woman of color was giddy with delight. And incredibly turned on.

Kiss

Kirk who?

Let’s take another look.

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What’s that? I couldn’t hear you over the sound of my childhood fantasies coming true.

We better take another look. You know, for Science.

Fazer-Pocket

Is that a phaser in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?

Seriously, these two are totally into each other and anyone who thinks otherwise is high on goofballs.

Opposite

So many feels.

I mean, how can you watch this and not see that Spock and Uhura are in love?

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I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m going to keep holding on to my childhood dream that a dark-haired stranger from another land will whisk me off to discover the secrets of space.