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Telefantasy tower blocks: space, place and social realism shake-ups in Misfits

Woods, F. ORCID: (2015) Telefantasy tower blocks: space, place and social realism shake-ups in Misfits. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 12 (2). pp. 229-244. ISSN 1755-1714

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3366/jbctv.2015.0259


This article considers the ways in which British youth telefantasy Misfits (E4, 2009–13) takes up and makes strange urban spaces familiar from social-realist narratives. Filmed on the sprawling East London estate, Thamesmead, the programme chronicles a group of young offenders who are given powers by a freak storm, turning them into ‘ASBO superheroes’. Misfits depends on its British urban landscapes for the assertion of its ‘authenticity’ within British youth television, using spaces and landscapes familiar from urban youth exploitation cinema and television's narratives of the underclass. After situating the series within existing cultural discourses and recent developments in social-realist representations, the article explores how Misfits disrupts what have become signifiers for the ‘real’ – the brutalism of housing estates, the grey of the concrete and sky – by making them strange, turning them into telefantasy. The series presents the estate as an uncanny place: the domestic, social-realist world shifted into a fantastical space by the storm. Through close analysis, this article explores how the familiar spaces become skewed and unsettling to match our protagonists' isolation, shifting bodies and scrambled sense of self.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:40844
Publisher:Edinburgh University Press


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