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Nothing but Respect for MY Naughty Irish Santa

"It's just pure, mindless vandalism!!"

Nathan meets Marnie while dressed as Santa.

Humbug! Yeah, I said it. Humbug. I never liked all the forced fanfare surrounding Christmas, where it felt like you had to put on a happy face just because. Christmas, for me, was always happiest when it was a slow amble down the stairs, a hot drink, and then a bunch of movies with your family, snuggled up with a dog or two on either side. A time of rest. None of the Pollyanna crap.

That’s why, this year, I rebuke—yes, REBUKE—the traditional white-bearded weirdo climbing down our chimneys, in favor of Robert Sheehan’s iconic role as Nathan Young—my true Santa. A Santa who isn’t afraid to have a good shag while on the job. In other words, the Christmas hero we need.

If you had a decidedly different adolescence than I did, you might be wondering what the hell I’m talking about. I’m talking about Misfits, baby: the crass, couldn’t-be-aired-today sort of British show from the late aughts/early 2010s that, for all its foulness, I just couldn’t get enough of. British TV from that era really put some good stuff in whatever they were cooking, and Misfits was the horrible little cherry on top that me and my shitheel friends were obsessed with.

And, if you can get past the crassness and recognize it as a product of its time, it still holds up! In particular, Nathan’s character is more sympathetic to me as an adult than when I was a kid. I used to think he was just some loudmouthed bully with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, but now, I just see him as one of many abused and neglected people who use humor as a coping mechanism. And to be honest, that’s so relatable that I can’t help but love the guy out of a sense of solidarity.

Before the events of the show, Nathan was this shallow, aimless, petty, and vindictive early-twenty-something who hung around town with a group of guys who just pretended to be his friends while quietly making fun of him. I think Nathan was aware of this, too, but when you’re that young and you don’t know what you’re doing, you just go along with whatever. The thing that brings the Season 1 Gang together is their court-ordered community service. Simon tried to burn a bully’s house down, Curtis got caught buying drugs, Kelly brawled with a girl she doesn’t like, and Alisha was drunk driving—all pretty severe offenses. So what did our boy Nathan do?

He got caught eating pick-n-mix, was chased through some bowling alleys, and then, when given a chance to be bailed out by his dad, he insulted said dad and goaded the bowling alley manager into calling the police. I don’t recommend that everyone watch this scene, as some of the dialogue is incredibly dated and offensive (it was a late 2000s show, after all), but wow, it really sets up his character arc perfectly.

Because while Nathan is the loudest, brashest member of the gang, he’s by far the most insecure. He goes out of his way to pick on Simon, the quiet, nerdy one, and he constantly brags about his wild adventures while also having nowhere to sleep aside from the community center, no one to call on, not even any sort of support from his mother, who got tired of his language and kicked him out.

Then there’s the biggest kicker, which is the whole superpowers thing. Yes, Misfits is a sci-fi show, where the community service gang gets zapped by a lightning bolt that gives them all powers … except Nathan, it would seem. He spends the entire first season wondering why the hell Kelly can read minds, Curtis can go back in time, Alisha can put people in a horny frenzy (again, late 2000s), and Simon can turn invisible, while he’s just the guy who makes jokes.

Turns out though, he does have a power: He’s immortal! The son of a bitch just cannot die, try as people might to kill him. He’s basically Nelson Muntz with an edge.

And if the writing was worse, it’d be so easy to just call this guy a jerk and cast him aside, but my god, the show does a great job with their characters, especially Nathan. It’s so hard to hate him. He says and does the most foolish things, but often those things are the glue that keeps the gang together. Even Simon, who took the worst from his crass mouth, admits that he just wants to be friends, and by season 2, they really have a good thing going.

It therefore makes Nathan’s sendoff, during season 2’s Christmas episode, feel so bittersweet. We’ve spent so much time with this group of people, who’ve grown astronomically and come to depend on each other in their own ways. But Sheehan felt like 2 seasons was enough time on the show and wanted to leave while the going was good, which is super fair and understandable, even if it breaks our hearts.

And while fans might have found the episode to be rushed, random, and ridiculous, I gotta admit, it’s an apt sendoff.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

Nathan was always a cavalier sort of guy who went wherever the wind took him. In the case of his final episode, it brings him to Marnie, a pregnant girl he hooks up with while wearing a Santa costume, then proceeds to deliver her baby … while still in said Santa costume. Also in the episode, the Misfits meet Seth, a guy who was struck by lightning as well and has the power to take powers, as well as give them to others. Nathan ends up selling his immortality for £2,000—which is honestly comically low, but again, apt—and instead of pocketing the money, he gives it to Marnie.

I like to think this is where his story ends. There’s technically a spinoff episode showing him in Vegas, using his new power to scam casinos and try to make a dishonest living for Marnie and Nathan Jr., but hey, today’s Christmas, and though I might be humbuggin’ all over the place, even I can find appreciation in the sweeter stories to be told. So, Merry Christmas Nathan Young, you pathetic piece of shit. We love ya!

(featured image: E4)

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Madeline (she/her) is a writer and dog mom. She aims to use her writing to positively represent mixed-race people like herself, and is currently working on a novel. However, when she isn't writing, she's either battling insomnia or taking too many naps. You can read her stuff at https://madelinecwrites.com/