Lately, Smoosh + Zach have been watching Marvel’s Runaways, a Hulu original series. Zach, our resident Marvel expert, wrote a little review to help you decide if you should stay home and binge watch Runaways yourself!
Runaways’ Season One is a somewhat successful, though largely inconsistent, look at life as a teenager through the lens of a comic book universe.
Teenagers on TV don’t really have a great track record outside of the Disney Channel, simply due to the realities of trying to stage a convincing adolescent drama. Often you have actors that look too old to be teenagers, written by writers painfully out of touch with contemporary ones, all playing to an audience that is either a teen or remembers what it was like to be one. It’s a tough target to hit, let alone hinge your entire show on. Marvel’s Runaways is the story of a group of teenagers who discover that their parents’ annual get-together is an excuse for something more nefarious, and try to figure out what to do when they find out their parents might be even worse than they think they are. It’s a good premise for a show and one that works on a couple of different levels.
For the most part, Runaways successfully delivers on the themes of what it feels like to be a teenager and takes some of that to its logical extreme. How often did you feel that your parents were truly evil and only out to make you miserable? Runaways benefits from a talented cast of youngsters who can convincingly “act” their age, even if the dialogue lets them down from time to time. If being a teenager is about crossing the threshold of believing in black-and-white truths to learning that the reality of life is gray, the actors do a great job of being caught right in the middle. Likewise, their parents are also successful — albeit a little less convincingly — at straddling the line between doing nefarious things but only in the service of protecting their kids. They commit the same mistakes every parent does at that age, of underestimating exactly what their kids are capable of while realizing how much control they no longer have.
Unfortunately, it’s the overarching plot and writing around those characterizations that often let the show down. Characters will flip-flop between hating and liking each other with alarming frequency. Some of that can be chalked up to hormones and the gravity of certain situations — less so when it happens so consistently. Some of the romance also feels wholly unearned, and on more than one occasion, characters will do or say something entirely out of character. The overarching plot is clumsy at best, and a botched finale sacrifices all momentum for the promise of plot threads that may or may not pay off in the distant future. In a rare move for a comic-book-based property, Runaways sticks too close to the source material for its own good
Despite all that, it still works where it counts. It’s hard to deny how familiar it feels, to think you’re invincible and feel the urge to wrest control of the world away from the people you think are ruining it for your generation. Hopefully this freshman season has given them the confidence to stray a bit from the shadow of its origins and focus on what really makes it work in its titular Runaways.