The misfit as portrayed on television has evolved from an unaccepted loser forever trying to fit in into a quirky yet self-confident character with no desire to conform. The self-awareness of being “different” is no longer accompanied by misery but rather by acceptance. Characters like Larry in ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ are comfortable in their identity as a misfit, and don’t feel the need to think worse of themselves or react more appropriately. Someone says in passing that “abnormal is now normal,” and it basically sums up this shift in media portrayal and also in society’s acceptance of the misfit.
The misfits have always been endearing and sympathetic in an underdog way, and it’s interesting how people tend to root for the underdog. I know I do. It’s almost an innate desire in every human to see the impossible be broken. And it’s strange, because these characters may not even be real, but seeing them succeed despite the odds makes me feel like I can too. When I remember the shows and movies from ten, fifteen years ago, I remember the classic nerd with the too-big round glasses and the too-short-at-the-ankles overalls. He and his goofy self were too smart for his peers, underappreciated, lonely. I remember the impossibly absurd Homer who would cause trouble, be trouble, or plant trouble. These characters, while far from normal or envied, still have a natural, genuine charm to them. There are no lies, no masks, no “two faces,” no struggle to hide who they are or to be someone else. And it’s uplifting that these qualities are now more appreciated and accepted by society, and that it’s being reflected in media. Hopefully that’s the message people are getting as well.