In 2 New Shows, Power To The Powerless

Two new series imported from the U.K. take up the theme of ordinary people endowed with superpowers.

In one of the shows, “Supacell” -- starting Thursday on Netflix -- the story involves giving power to the powerless.

They are ordinary people each living in their own difficult circumstances who suddenly, and with no explanation (at least, not in the first episode), suddenly find new forms of strength.

One of them is a man who owes child-support payments to his ex-wife, has maxed out his credit cards, and was just fired from the job he recently obtained.

When an ATM informs him he has no money to withdraw, he gets a strange glint in his eye, rears back, and shatters the machine with one punch. 



The ATM then shoots all of its cash out of the withdrawal slot and the bills accumulate in a great pile at his feet.

In “Domino Day: Lone Witch” -- starting Thursday on Sundance Now --   a modern-day witch named Domino survives, vampire-like, on what she can suck out of other people.

In this case, it is not the blood of other humans. It is their energy. In Episode One, she is seen transferring a man’s energy via what looks like a stream of electricity from his mouth to hers while having sex with him. Oh, Domino!

The scene was ridiculous, but that is not the point. The point is that she possessed a unique power which she used to cast off her victimhood and turn the tables on this man who was poised to rape her. 

We have seen TV shows about ordinary people with extraordinary powers a number of times over the years. 

NBC’s “Heroes” -- from way back in 2006-10 -- comes immediately to mind, but there have been more on TV, and also in movies.

But why now? The answer seems obvious. People feel powerless. Therefore, TV shows and movies respond, as they always have.

Today, it feels as if we are being bombarded on a number of fronts by great challenges beyond our control.

These threats are often described in the popular media as “existential” ones. If even one of these bombardments goes unchecked, there will be dire consequences for the human race.

As noted here many times, the threat of extinction is the cultural force that has birthed dozens of TV shows with end-of-the-world themes. 

These shows traffic in the same fears as the power-to-the-powerless dramas. What do we feel powerless against today?

The list includes threats to the United States posed by global adversaries. Along with that, we fear the prospect of wars on a technological scale previously unheard of, in which the electrical grid on which our entire lives depend can be disabled, plunging us into figurative and literal darkness.

There is climate change, which threatens to raise water levels, melt ice caps, whip up storms with unprecedented ferocity and drive atmospheric heat up to almost unbearable levels.

There is the fear of mutating viruses. We all got a taste of what a pandemic can do, and how it can kill people and in the process, tear at the fabric of society.

Add to all that the fear of plastics in our oceans, the extinction of wildlife, the unbridgeable social divisions at home, and the leadership vacuum in our national politics and you have a real ball of confusion.

Who you gonna call? Ordinary people with extraordinary powers, if you can find any.

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