Physical Address

304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124

Britain’s Economy, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, 1,000 Kids – Review
‘The superpower genre needs it’: Tosin Cole as Michael in Supacell. Photograph: Netflix

Is the superhero genre all out of super? The ongoing torrent of superhero movies and TV shows might have left viewers feeling fatigued. How many times can heroes save the world amidst CGI explosions and over-the-top special effects? In a genre dedicated to standing out, it is getting increasingly hard for new superpower stories to make a mark.

Enter Supacell, an intriguing new six-part series available on Netflix, set in South London and created by British rapper and producer Andrew Onwubolu, better known as Rapman. The show features six ordinary people who suddenly develop extraordinary powers. Their eyes give away the arrival of these abilities, flickering a yellowy-gold.

Among them, the delivery man Michael (played by Tosin Cole) gains the ability to teleport through time and space, though it brings him visions of an unwanted future. Single father Andre (Eric Kofi-Abrefa) has super strength; nurse Sabrina (Nadine Mills) develops telekinesis; and dopey weed dealer Rodney (Calvin Demba) can now run at lightning speed. Meanwhile, gang leader Tazer (Josh Tedeku), who you might have seen in Boarders on BBC Three, uses his newfound invisibility to attack enemies with a zombie knife.

Supacell at times feels like an urban drama akin to Top Boy but sprinkled with superpowers. The cast is predominantly black, the dialogue is naturalistic, and the sense of place is vivid and authentic. Issues of race are touched upon but do not dominate the narrative. Instead, the show focuses on real-life emotions and struggles like joy, pain, poverty, and hardship.

Michael proposes to his girlfriend, played by Adelayo Adedayo from The Responder, while dealing with his mother’s sickle cell disease. Andre searches for work but is hindered by his criminal record. The series lets viewers get to know each character deeply before they come together, which, hilariously, takes a long time to happen.

Another plotline involves a secret laboratory and a coolly sinister character played by Eddie Marsan, although this part progresses at a similarly slow pace. On the contrary, characters seem to adapt to their powers remarkably quickly. Tazer and his gang, for example, adjust to his invisibility in no time at all.

Supacell may appear scrappy and rough around the edges, perhaps due to a modest budget for special effects. But this might be its strength. The lack of overwhelming CGI allows space for a more imaginative story with well-rounded, multifaceted characters. Will there be a second season? Let’s hope so—the superpower genre could surely use it.

Last week also saw the release of the Channel 4 documentary Skint: The Truth About Britain’s Economy, hosted by economist Tim Harford. Harford, a Financial Times columnist and Radio 4 presenter, gives an in-depth analysis of the current economic state of Britain, and it unfolds like a horror film supplemented with statistics.

Harford explores a range of issues including public services, the NHS, housing, and high taxes. He discusses disasters like the 2008 global financial crisis, Tory austerity, and even Liz Truss’s brief tenure as prime minister. Harford offers solutions such as increased housing and bigger investments, but the documentary lacks dissenting voices, making it thorough yet somewhat one-sided.

Harford’s calm, low-key presentation might feel odd, especially in a time when loud and dramatic presentations are the norm. Could this be another issue for Britain — a collective fatigue that makes us expect constant noise and drama?

A new adaptation of Holly Jackson’s 2019 bestseller A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder hit BBC iPlayer this week, with Emma Myers, from Wednesday, playing Pip. She’s an aspiring Cambridge student carrying out a school project on a five-year-old murder case. Despite the grim subject matter, there’s a wholesomeness to the series that feels refreshing, even if some aspects are a bit cliché and the plot has its holes.

Back on Netflix, The Man With 1,000 Kids is a three-part docuseries covering the complex, jaw-dropping story of Dutch serial sperm donor Jonathan Jacob Meijer. Claiming to have fathered up to 3,000 children worldwide, Meijer is portrayed as an unrepentant narcissist. The series digs deep into the emotional and ethical implications, making it almost unbearable to watch through splayed fingers.

Star Ratings (out of five):
Supacell: ★★★★
Skint: The Truth About Britain’s Economy: ★★★
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder: ★★★
The Man With 1,000 Kids: ★★★

Other recommendations:

Wimbledon (BBC One/Two): Even without Andy Murray, summer wouldn’t be complete without the Wimbledon tennis championships. Clare Balding leads the coverage, with Isa Guha joining her.

Land of Women (Apple TV+): Eva Longoria stars in this six-part dramedy as a spoiled New Yorker who flees to rural Spain. It’s juicy and playful, perfect for a binge.

Prince and His Songs at the BBC (BBC Two): To mark the 40th anniversary of Prince’s album Purple Rain, the BBC features archival footage of the legendary artist and performances of his songs by various artists.

Source: The Guardian, Channel 4, BBC, Netflix