Hulu decides to join the comic book frenzy with their own original series, The Runaways, based on the Marvel comic book series of the same name. The Runaways is about a group of six childhood best friends who stumble upon their parents’ annual meeting, after which massive secrets are revealed. The show might feature the same characters from the comic, but make no mistake this is where most of the similarities end. The Runaways has numerous flaws and directional choices that weigh down the show and make you wonder if you made the right choice investing into this series, especially when there are other comic book based shows on the market. Before I get into the flaws, I have to praise some of the things the show actually manages to get right.
One thing that makes this show a standout amongst the wave of shows based around superheroes and comics is its setting: the west coast in Los Angeles. The city provides sunny backdrops, a warm California feel, and overall a unique look to the genre. The setting of the show is accompanied by a great soundtrack from current artists who make the show feel new and fresh. I knew the soundtrack was special when Asap Ferg’s “East Coast” was featured in one of the first episodes.
Hands down the best part of the show are the characters, but more specifically the teenagers. They all have their unique personalities and eventually power-ups that make them stand apart. The teen cast even have a pet dinosaur that listens to voice commands; how cool is that? Watching the teens piece together the mystery of Pride (the name of the parents’ organization) while balancing their lives of being students is the main draw of the show. Despite the parents being the villains, they are not just one dimensional and are actually fleshed out; however, this leads to the negative aspect of the show…
The Runaways spends too much time focusing on the parents, to the point where you wonder if this show is even about the teens. The show wants us to feel bad about the parents and show their plight only to re-confirm that they are actually villains. I appreciate what the show is doing by showing the parents’ side of things, but it actually eats up time we could be spending with the teenagers. Speaking of time: this show has no respect for yours, as it uses all ten episodes to reach the same conclusions we made by episode five. So much time is wasted while leaving so many questions unanswered that are essential to the show. To name a few: why are the parents so afraid of one person? why did they join this madman in the first place? why did they wait so long to finally realize this was a bad idea?
Another thing is the inconsistency of the characters’ personalities and powers displayed. There are characters who make you think they change or are feeling one way and then they change in less than one episode with no explanation. I guess you can chalk it up to “kids being kids” but how do you explain the parents’ heel turns? Moving on to the powers, some characters display powers or unique acts, but when they do it again it is completely different. It is like their powers and or feats change to fit the narrative of the episode. Something to be noted, for a comic book show, The Runaways has some of the worst action scenes of 2017 and is at best serviceable.
Furthermore, how the hell do you have a vicious yet intelligent dinosaur, who is only used to be covered up and left in cars? I have never felt so bad for a dinosaur until this show, and I hope he has more purpose in season two besides playing hide ‘n go seek. Another thing that bothers me is the frequent use of Lyft, which is name-dropped and used so much you have to wonder if Lyft funded this show.
Overall the show has a massive amount of wasted potential: exploring characters and plot threads the audience already figured out or, worse, don’t care about. If the show wants to have a successful season two then more screen time should be used on the younger cast and moving the plot forward. instead of backward.