You Should Watch: Extraordinary

Laura J. Burns
Laura J. Burns writes books, writes for TV, and sometimes writes TV based on books and books based on TV. She will never, however, write a poem. She’s the managing editor of The Antagonist.

I binged an entire show in one sitting because this scene came across my feed.

Extraordinary on Hulu isn’t a particularly original show, or even necessarily a great one. But goddamn if it isn’t the most fun I’ve had in ages! We follow the adventures of London 20something Jen and her flatmates Carrie and Kash, who are a couple. Everyone is special in this version of the world…except Jen. Most people get their power on their 18th birthday, but she didn’t.

Did you catch the metaphor? She’s just an ordinary girl, which makes her extraordinary in a world filled with powered people. Still, she feels like an outsider, a loser, as if life is passing her by and she’s the only one who can’t quite catch up, who hasn’t yet figured out how to fulfill her potential, etc. I could go on and on, but you get it. She’s a normal person in her twenties. Everyone feels that way, and if they don’t, well, who wants to watch a show about people like that, all well-adjusted and happy? This is a typical coming-of-age story about a woman in her twenties dealing with the challenges of romance, work, friends, and family all while figuring out who she really is. Plus superpowers.

And about those superpowers…even this conceit isn’t new. Piers Anthony did the whole “hero who’s the only one without powers” back in Xanth when I was a wee lass too young to realize how horrifically sexist everything he wrote was. It’s a classic trope. By the end of the first season, we still don’t know where it’s going in Extraordinary, and also we don’t care. Because again, damn is it fun!

If everyone has powers, no one’s powers matter all that much, and frankly that’s hilarious. Kash can TURN BACK FUCKING TIME and he uses it to erase stupid things he’s said to his girlfriend. Jen’s mom can manipulate technology, but like most parents she has no idea how technology works so she doesn’t know what to do with this ability. In London there are people flying around, but who cares? If only one person can fly, he’s Superman. If several people can fly, they’re just people who can fly. Some powers are incredibly mundane, like changing your hairstyle. Some are badass, like shapeshifting. And then there’s Carrie’s.

Carrie can channel the dead. She uses this ability to work at a law firm allowing the recently deceased to weigh in on their wills. And as the season progresses, she realizes there are other options, like completing the never-finished work of long-dead artists, dating centuries-old royalty, and generally avoiding living in a present that forces her to confront the fact that her boyfriend turns back time to manipulate her. I love that this is a show where people have super-strength and can 3D print things from their buttholes, but the most interesting power is to talk to dead people.

Meanwhile, Jen is on a quest to find her own power while also largely ruining the lives of everyone she knows, from her younger sister, to her best friend, to a stray cat, to her own. Kash is a slacker who wants to start a band of do-gooder vigilantes but is even worse at it than Deadpool. And through it all is an always-relatable thread of the haves vs. the have-nots, and a great soundtrack.

Have I mentioned that this show is SO MUCH FUN?

Extraordinary aired on Disney+ in other countries, which is an enormous mindfuck to think about given how constantly sex-obsessed and foul-mouthed it is. But as with most cheerfully rude stories about misfits in their twenties, this is at heart a story about friendship and how much we all need it. And you should watch it immediately.

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