Extraordinary is a super-powered comedy that’s expansive, sassy and eatable

The jokes in Hulu Extraordinaryset in a world where every member of humanity gains a superpower on or around their 18th birthday are coming your way fast.

And wide. And silly.

very stupid indeed. And often stupid.

Most of the time they walk the thin, porous line between coarse and vulgar, between clever and crass.

Do not believe me? Meet the one minor character who was gifted with a butt that doubles as a 3D printer. Or the guy whose mere touch brings people to orgasm (also note his extensive collection of gloves, a requirement that allows poor Schlub to live in society without wreaking a uniquely satisfying, if chaotic, level of havoc) .

The eight-episode British comedy series, the debut of creator/writer Emma Moran, focuses on Jen (Máiréad Tyers), a 25-year-old Irish woman in East London whose power has yet to manifest. She’s not happy about it and she’s just self-obsessed enough to drag down those she cares about.

There’s her long-suffering best friend and roommate, Carrie (Sofia Oxenham), whose ability to channel the dead makes her wonder if anyone ever cares you may have to say. Carrie’s lazy friend Kash (Bilal Hansa) can reverse time, but mainly uses this ability to save himself embarrassment, jumping back a few seconds to erase moments when he says something stupid. There’s Jen’s mother Mary (the great Siobhan McSweeney, Derry girls‘ Sister Michael) who has the power to control electronics – which would be wonderful if she could just figure out how it works.

As Jen navigates her ordinary, underperforming existence by making a series of poor life choices (like constantly texting that distant, handsome guy who literally flies away after sex), she struggles to save money for a clinic that promises her super power once and for all.

But while all (well, most) of the super power gags thrown around here are clever enough, don’t be fooled. They’re not what really drives the series.

Extraordinary asks how something as miraculous as the sudden granting of mass superpowers would transform humanity. And it provides a clever and unfortunately compelling argument for his answer:

They wouldn’t change us at all.

The series knows that humanity real Superpower is the extent to which we collectively refuse to grow and change to answer the call for adventure. Instead, as a species, we simply acclimate. We return to the form. With each new opportunity, we embrace the incredible, the wondrous, the new with a reckless determination to make it ordinary, familiar, and boring.

Extraordinary is a show about our tendency to settle down.

You can see that in every frame. It’s there in the background, in the chirping slogans of public health posters trying to reassure (“Some people have visible farts! It’s just LIFE!”). It’s there in the locked comic book store on Jens Street – what are comic book superheroes for in a super powered world? It’s there, in the nothing-new-under-the-sun way, that Carrie’s employer simply takes advantage of her unique skills without adequately compensating her for it. And it’s because Kash’s decision to form a team of costumed crimefighters is greeted by everyone around him as ridiculous and pointless at first glance.

The reason that Extraordinary But works goes deeper: the same stasis, the same tendency to calm down, lies at the core of each character. Jen talks a lot about finding her power, but selfish choices keep her from moving forward and actually making it happen. Carrie’s friendship with the selfish Jen is just as unsatisfying to her as her sex with Kash – but she won’t take the necessary steps to change, either. A third roommate, played by Luke Rollason, is obsessed with power and doesn’t want to find out what kind of person he used to be (“What if… I don’t like myself?”).

In the final episode, Jen and her friends manage to break free of their own lowered expectations and self-denying choices in small ways. And it’s all accomplished through something that’s been working in the background of the series from the very beginning.

Beneath the flashy powers and sight gags and broad character types, the observant observer will be able to discern the raw heart of the series on the verge of listening, which is steadily in front of it in scenes that deal with Jen and Carrie’s strained friendship or strained relationship between them hin suggests Jens and her mother.

That’s why these eight hugely boozy episodes make such a satisfying landing, buoyed by an invigorating and welcome sincerity that was always there mixed in with all those fart jokes.

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