Imagine living in a world where everybody has a superpower. Now imagine living in that world when you are the only one who doesn’t have one. Would you feel happy? Frustrated? Something else? A new comedy follows a young woman who is living that exact situation.
Opening Shot: A young woman sits down for a job interview, the skyline of London in the background.
The Gist: The interviewer, who happens to wear an eye patch, has a particular power: She can get people to tell the truth. Jen (Máiréad Tyers) can’t help but spew all sorts of unflattering things about herself, none of which fazes the interview. But when Jen is asked what her power is, she says that she doesn’t have one yet.
Jen lives in a world where everyone has some sort of superpower. Everyone, that is, but her. She was supposed to get the power after her 18th birthday, but she’s now 25 and it still hasn’t come. In this world, people use their superpowers for stupid, mundane reasons, like the guy who is able to throw a puddle of water onto Jen so a cab doesn’t drive through it and splash him.
Jen’s roommates have interesting powers: Carrie (Sofia Oxenham) channels dead people, which comes in handy when the solicitors she works for have to negotiate an estate dispute. “I’m an appliance,” she tells Jen when she realizes that’s the only reason why she’s there. Carrie’s boyfriend Kash (Bilal Hasna) can turn back time, at least by a few minutes, but he uses it to do things like making sure Jen doesn’t see him in a costume that says “SUPER COCK.” He wants to create a group of vigilantes instead of finding an actual job.
She sees the ads for a center that will help people who are stuck like her bring their powers out, but feels she’ll discover it any time now. But it’s frustrating that people feel bad for her, and that she has to date guys like the handsome dude who flies like Superman and the nerdy guy who can make make living beings orgasm with just his touch. She brings the second guy home, hoping that she can get off by even some incidental contact, but he insists on wearing a glove and seeing if he can make her come on his own. The next morning, the black cat she found outside her flat jumps on the bed, puts out a paw, and… well, there’s a reason why the flatmates decided to name him Jizzlord.
Jen goes to the 18th birthday party of her overachieving half-sister Andy (Safia Oakley-Green). Almost as soon as she blows out the candles the minute she turns 18, she tears the door off the refrigerator, showing newfound super strength. This is when Jen decides to try to dig her power out of wherever it’s hiding.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? The tone of Extraordinary reminds us of The Boys, but the story is more akin to another Hulu series, Shrill.
Our Take: Created by Emma Moran, Extraordinary has big laughs because it exists in a world where having superpowers isn’t a big deal. So, when Jen walks down the street and doesn’t even take a second look at all the people using their powers around her, we’ve already set up a story that has a different vibe than most superhero shows we’ve seen.
Will the gag that people use these superpowers for mundane and often selfish reasons get old? Maybe. But the fact that Jen doesn’t have powers, wants them, and is desperate enough to do whatever she needs to do to unearth them, will drive the series. Tyers is funny as the adrift Jen, looking with exasperation at everyone else’s powers, getting encouragement on the phone from her father (more on that in a moment), or being completely contemptuous of her suck-up half-sister. It’s that frustration which will inform the series as it goes along.
But the superhero moments are also pretty funny, like when Carrie channels Hitler so that they can torture him and make Jen feel better, or Jizzlord transforming into a dude (Luke Rollason) and then back again, seemingly unable to figure out how to control when and where he does it. Also, the powers that are shown seem to be limitless, but doesn’t make the people who have them powerful: Jen’s mom Mary (Siobhán McSweeney) is able to control electronics but has no idea how to use any of them, and her stepdad Ian (Robbie Gee) is an empath whose accurate guesses on people’s emotions are more annoying than anything else.
We also appreciate that Jen isn’t buying the whole “your power is being you” BS. That’s more appropriate for a kids’ film like Encanto; in the “real life” of Extraordinary, Jen is allowed to be angry and bitter about it. It’s a whole lot more entertaining, anyway.
Sex and Skin: Does a cat having an orgasm count?
Parting Shot: After finding out how much it costs to have her powers found by the wellness organization, Jen says, “Yeah, we’re gonna DIY this thing.” Then we see a mid-credits scene of Jizzlord changing into a human man as Jen sleeps. “Oh, no…” he says before he changes back.
Sleeper Star: Yes, we want to see a lot of Luke Rollason as the human version of Jizzlord. And, yes, we love typing the word “Jizzlord.”
Most Pilot-y Line: We did guess exactly who Jen is talking to when she talks to her dad on the phone before we saw the scene that explains it. But, despite how not surprising it was it was still a sweet scene.
Our Call: STREAM IT. The first episode of Extraordinary sets up a pretty funny premise; we just hope that the joke that everyone in the world has powers except Jen doesn’t quickly wear out when the novelty of it does.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.
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