Misfits is a British Channel 4 programme that follows 5 young adults who are on probation together. A storm hits that gives them all special powers that they learn to deal with together. For the purpose of this post I’m focusing on season one, as the group of characters changes in different seasons.
The scripting of Misfits is informal, and we immediately know the personalities of the characters more from the script than their appearance or representation on screen. Simon is softly and well-spoken, but Kelly has a strong London accent that is occasionally hard to understand. This adds to their character because the audience is able to make assumptions about them based on what they hear from the characters. The audience assumes that Simon is introverted because he’s quietly spoken, and we know Nathan has always been the ‘joker’ because he never takes anything seriously, making lewd jokes even when talking about the dead probation officer.
Misfits is very much highly based on it’s scripting to carry the story and character development, whereas if we look at a show like Sex Education on Netflix, this is based more on what’s shown to the audience. Sex Education is a more recent show and this difference could be the result of audience preference, but it’s also very much the style of Netflix Originals to be visually highly creative.
The script of Misfits has lines that are always developing the story or the relationship between the characters. Kelly’s first line is “What makes you think you’re better than us?” taking an offensive tone. This sets up her character as reactive to conflict.
The characters of Misfits are developed largely through their script and their physical traits. Facial expressions are focused on to convey to the viewer what the character is thinking, and this is also confirmed by the thoughts we hear through Kelly’s power.
Focusing on Nathan, we know that he uses a joker exterior to cover emotional damage that he is going through with the relationship with his family. We see in the first episode that his mum has changed the locks and kicked him out of her house so that she can focus on her relationship, so as an audience we’re able to see that Nathan must be a very troublesome person despite his upbeat joker attitude. We can assume this not only from the plot line but what’s revealed through his thoughts (via Kelly) and the way he speaks to his mum on the phone. His demeanor changes, and although he’s using a fairly comedic way to speak, he says it in a more mellow tone and with a melancholy expression. Even when he’s calling his friends, none of them will let him stay at their house, and so his mischievous character is confirmed further.
It’s important to understand how the characters create a backstory without fully revealing the backstory. We can make these assumptions about Nathan despite only seeing him through the course of one day.
How this affects my work
From watching Misfits and analysing how it’s used the script to create a ‘tone’ to the story and speech of the characters, I understand how this tone can be very important to create and follow when it comes to writing. If a character changes their ways too quickly, it would be jarring and confusing to the audience (like season 8 of Game of Thrones for example). I want to be able to develop my characters visually, but it’s important to understand how to incorporate a character’s past without actually talking about it.