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Why a US remake of Misfits will never work

Just no, thanks.

I’d love to receive a guided tour of the scrapheap where failed American remakes of excellent British TV shows go to die. Ladies and gentlemen, if you look to your left, you will see the withered corpse of Gracepoint, the Broachchurch remake cancelled after one season. To your right, the decaying carcass of the also-cancelled, risible take on Life On Mars. You might spot the debris of one of the three separate Fawlty Towers remakes – none of which ever managed to air a full season. If you’re really lucky you might glimpse the remains of never-at-all-aired Us & Them (née Gavin & Stacey).

The IT Crowd, The Inbetweeners, Spaced, Ab Fab, Coupling, Skins: for every The Office (US) and House of Cards you’ll find a thousand less fortunate victims of the American obsession with remaking British shows.

Now, Deadline is reporting that Misfits – E4’s 2009-2013 superhero comedy-drama about a group of young people doing community service who find themselves in possession of superpowers after a mysterious storm – is the latest British show to receive the US remake treatment. Freeform, a former youth and family channel owned by Disney currently rebranding to millenials (specifically 18-34-year-olds), has ordered a pilot from Diane Ruggiero-Wright (who has previously worked on iZombie and Veronica Mars), who wrote the adaptation and serves as showrunner.

The premise and key characters remain the same as the original – and four of the five leads have been cast. Ashleigh LaThrop will play Alicia, a middle-class party girl, Tre Hall will play Curtis, a talented and handsome athlete, Allie MacDonald will play no-nonsense – and occasionally violent – Kelly, while Jake Cannavale will play arrogant class clown Nathan. So far, so similar.

Over at Vulture, Tim McGovern writes that “after its previous stint on the E4 Network, Misfits, which felt like the supernaturally gifted cousin of the show Skins, will find itself right at home on Freeform”, which “already has two Marvel shows about kids with powers”. But, as with Skins, the problem with many remakes of British youth programming is that it’s often toned down in terms of sexual content, swearing, and general naughtiness (see also: America remaking rather than redistributing Skam). As Rosie Knight notes on Twitter, Misfits is “is literally 90 per cent swearing and fingering jokes” – it seems unlikely that Freeform, with its family-friendly origins, will stay true to the tone of the British version.

There’s another issue, too. Misfits was born out of a very specific clash between two different genres: what if we took the glossy, high-concept American drama series of the late Noughties, like, say Heroes, but combined it with the edgy British comedy of something altogether more down to earth, like Shameless. Like Shaun of the Dead, it worked at least in part because of its Britishness – a surprising combination of two seemingly disparate genres. “The whole point of Misfits really is that it’s a British take on the American superhero thing,” Antonia Thomas said of a rumoured American remake while still filming the original’s third series (as writer Nichole Perkins notes). “To then do an American take on the British take on the…” she trailed off. It seems faintly absurd.

Perhaps the people at Freeform are all too aware of these problems, and are a step ahead – I hope to be surprised and impressed by what the conjure up. But otherwise, I’ll see you back at the remake scrapheap trying to catch a glimpse of the cancelled TV show formerly known as Misfits (US).

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.

Photo: Channel 4
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Who will win Great British Bake Off 2017 based on the contestants’ Twitters

An extremely serious and damning investigation. 

It was morning but the sky was as dark as the night – and the night was as dark as a quite dark rat. He walked in. A real smooth gent with legs for seconds. His pins were draped in the finest boot-cut jeans money could buy, and bad news was written all over his face. “I’m Paul,” he said. “I know”. My hooch ran dry that night – but the conversation never did. By nightfall, it was clear as a see-through rat.   

Some might say that going amateur detective to figure out which contestants win and lose in this year’s Great British Bake Off is spoiling the fun faster than a Baked Alaska left out of the freezer. To those people I’d say: yes. The following article is not fun. It is a serious and intense week-by-week breakdown of who will leave GBBO in 2017. How? Using the contestants’ Twitter and Instagram accounts, of course.

The clues are simple but manifold, like a rat with cousins. They include:

  • The date a contestant signed up for social media (was it during, or after, the competition?)
  • Whether a contestant follows any of the others (indicating they had a chance to bond)
  • A contestant’s personal blog and headshots (has the contestant already snaffled a PR?)
  • Pictures of the contestant's baking.
  • Whether a baker refers to themselves as a “baker” or “contestant” (I still haven’t figured this one out but FOR GOD’S SAKE WATSON, THERE’S SOMETHING IN IT)

Using these and other damning, damning, damning clues, I have broken down the contestants into early leavers, mid-season departures, and finalists. I apologise for what I have done.

Early leavers

Kate

Kate appears not to have a Twitter – or at least not one that the other contestants fancy following. This means she likely doesn’t have a book deal on the way, as she’d need to start building her social media presence now. Plus, look at how she’s holding that fork. That’s not how you hold a fork, Kate.

Estimated departure: Week 1

Julia

This year’s Bake Off began filming on 30 April and each series has ten episodes, meaning filming ran until at least 9 July. Julia first tweeted on 8 May – a Monday, presumably after a Sunday of filming. Her Instagram shows she baked throughout June and then – aha! – went on holiday. What does this mean? What does anything mean?

Estimated departure: Week 2

James

James has a swish blog that could indicate a PR pal (and a marketing agency recently followed him on Twitter). That said, after an April and May hiatus, James began tweeting regularly in June – DID HE PERHAPS HAVE A SUDDEN INFLUX OF FREE TIME? No one can say. Except me. I can and I am.

Estimated departure: Week 3

Tom

Token-hottie Tom is a real trickster, as a social media-savvy youngster. That said, he tweeted about being distracted at work today, indicating he is still in his old job as opposed to working on his latest range of wooden spoons. His Instagram is suspiciously private and his Twitter sparked into activity in June. What secrets lurk behind that mysteriously hot face? What is he trying to tell me, and only me, at this time?

Estimated departure: Week 4

Peter

Peter’s blog is EXCEPTIONALLY swish, but he does work in IT, meaning this isn’t a huge clue about any potential managers. Although Peter’s bakes look as beautiful as the moon itself, he joined Twitter in May and started blogging then too, suggesting he had a wee bit of spare time on his hands. What’s more, his blog says he likes to incorporate coconut as an ingredient in “everything” he bakes, and there is absolutely no bread-baking way Paul Hollywood will stand for that.

Estimated departure: Week 5

Mid-season departures

Stacey

Stacey’s buns ain’t got it going on. The mum of three only started tweeting today – and this was simply to retweet GBBO’s official announcements. That said, Stacey appears to have cooked a courgette cake on 9 June, indicating she stays in the competition until at least free-from week (or she’s just a massive sadist).

Estimated departure: Week 6

Chris

Chris is a tricky one, as he’s already verified on Twitter and was already solidly social media famous before GBBO. The one stinker of a clue he did leave, however, was tweeting about baking a cake without sugar on 5 June. As he was in London on 18 June (a Sunday, and therefore a GBBO filming day) and between the free-from week and this date he tweeted about bread and biscuits (which are traditionally filmed before free-from week in Bake Off history) I suspect he left just before, or slap bang on, Week 7. ARE YOU PROUD NOW, MOTHER?

Estimated departure: Week 7

Flo

Flo’s personal motto is “Flo leaves no clues”, or at least I assume it is because truly, the lady doesn’t. She’s the oldest Bake Off contestant ever, meaning we can forgive her for not logging onto the WWWs. I am certain she’ll join Twitter once she realises how many people love her, a bit like Val of seasons past. See you soon, Flo. See you soon.

Estimated departure: Week 8

Liam

Liam either left in Week 1 or Week 9 – with 0 percent chance it was any of the weeks in between. The boy is an enigma – a cupcake conundrum, a macaron mystery. His bagel-eyed Twitter profile picture could realistically either be a professional shot OR taken by an A-Level mate with his dad’s camera. He tweeted calling his other contestants “family”, but he also only follows ONE of them on the site. Oh, oh, oh, mysterious boy, I want to get close to you. Move your baking next to mine.

Estimated departure: Week 9

Finalists

Steven

Twitter bios are laden with hidden meanings and Steven Carter-Bailey’s doesn’t disappoint. His bio tells people to tune in “every” (every!) Tuesday and he has started his own hashtag, #StevenGBBO. As he only started tweeting 4 August (indicating he was a busy lil baker before this point) AND his cakes look exceptionally lovely, this boy stinks of finalist.  

(That said, he has never tweeted about bread, meaning he potentially got chucked out on week three, Paul Hollywood’s reckoning.)

Sophie

Sophie’s Twitter trail is the most revealing of the lot, as the bike-loving baker recently followed a talent agency on the site. This agency represents one of last year’s GBBO bakers who left just before the finale. It’s clear Sophie’s rising faster than some saffron-infused sourdough left overnight in Mary’s proving drawer. Either that or she's bolder than Candice's lipstick. 

Chuen-Yan

Since joining Twitter in April 2017, Yan has been remarkably silent. Does this indicate an early departure? Yes, probably. Despite this, I’m going to put her as a finalist. She looks really nice. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.