It wasn’t until I started watching Extraordinary (2023) that I realized how badly I needed a show that was absolutely, off-the-charts goofy, while still maintaining enough humanity and heart to make you really care about the deeply, deeply flawed and flummoxed characters as they flounder about, trying to find their way in a world made all the weirder, funnier—and often cringier—by the presence of everyone’s superpowers. (Well, almost everyone’s, that is.) Although some of the humor sometimes skewed too far into unexplored regions of cringe-landia for my taste, overall, the series made me laugh out loud and softened portions of my petrified black heart. 

Unlike everyone else she knows, Jen (Máiréad Tyers) didn’t get a superpower when she turned eighteen, and it certainly hasn’t shown up in the six years since then, so she’s just walking around power-less in a world full of power-filled peers. It could be, like, a whole metaphor and shit, but really Jen just wants a fucking superpower like everyone else so she can feel less inadequate. It doesn’t even matter that, in practice, having a superpower looks like it can be a real pain in the ass. Like, take Jen’s mom (Siobhán McSweeney), for example; she can control technology, but since she doesn’t understand how technology works she only makes a muddle of things. Or Jen’s colleague at the Party Supply store whose development of helium-filled lungs on his eighteenth birthday ended his promising career as a tennis player. (Jen really wishes he would stop lamenting his lack of super speed or racket hands all the time.) Or even Jen’s roommate and best friend Carrie (Sofia Oxenham), who has the ability to channel dead people, which means she’s often left feeling more like a needed appliance in her job settling estates and such, than a full person. None of this matters to Jen, though, in part because she’s a pretty selfish and self-centered person who’s so wrapped up in her own shit that she rarely stops to contemplate other people’s problems, and in part because she really thinks a power will get her life on track. 

A man in a furry costume, minus the head. Standing in front of a large selection of sample balloons. Around him are many inflated balloons. He looks morose.
This is Jen’s coworker whose superpower is helium filled lungs, but he’s mostly just super sad.
Carrie as she channels a nasty dead man. She is winking at a woman.
This is Carrie as she channels some nasty dead old man. He’s winking at his second much, much younger wife while telling his first wife to fuck off.

We first meet Jen when she’s interviewing for an office job, which she doesn’t really want, but the pay is good. The interviewer’s power is that she compels people to tell the truth. Well, not just the truth, but, at least in this case, a very detailed and awkward telling of the truth. So we learn about the odor of the bus that Jen rode to the interview, the current state of her tampon, and all the deeply personal reasons she didn’t sleep well last night. And when the woman asks Jen what her greatest weakness is, it’s like a great tsunami of self-awareness is unleashed as Jen explains that she has “crippling insecurity,” she’s lazy, lacks ambition, is stubborn, argumentative, and jealous. She adds that she only washes her hands “if there’s someone else in the bathroom,” she doesn’t think she’s capable of love, and she’s worried she might be “a little bit racist.” Obviously, she’s not getting the job, but she is charming her way straight into my heart. No, that’s actually not sarcasm. Her immensely flawed but self-aware and vulnerable character is immensely appealing and funny. 

Jen in front of large office windows that overlook a cityscape. She is dressed in professional clothing and looks somewhat hopeful.
Look at that little innocent face. Still filled with hope.
Jen standing on a street corner in the city as a man redirects water from a puddle in front of him directly into her face.
On her way home some schmuck with the power to move water throws an entire puddle in her face. He’s not trying to be an asshole, it just comes naturally because he’s a self-centered prick who doesn’t look around to make sure he’s not actively harming someone else in the process of making his life every so slightly more comfortable.

After attending her boastful and ridiculously successful half-sister Andy’s (Safia Oakley-Green) eighteenth birthday party—where Andy is thrilled to learn she now has super strength and Jen is disgusted to learn that Andy has been accepted to some fancy music conservatory for violin—Jen is feeling extra lost and hopeless. On top of that, she finds the hot but dickish guy she sometimes hooks up together with another woman, and then he quotes some RuPaul line to her about loving herself first. So she’s really in the dumps and just wants to find her power to fix all the hurt. In times like these, when she’s so sad, instead of talking to her mother, who’s bristly, judgemental, and seems to like Andy better, she often talks—via Carrie—to her long-dead father, who gives her pep talks from beyond the mortal coil and encourages her to go out and get her power. 

Jen's sister Andy holding the refrigerator door above her head after she has ripped it from its hinges. Her mouth and the mouth of the woman standing to her left are both agape in shock.
This moment cracked me.
Jen and the guy she hooks up with lying in her bed. He is looking a his phone. She is looking sad and uncertain.
After they have sex this asshole says, “nice one mate.” He’s an armpit’s armpit.
View out Jen's window into the night where the dickish hookup guy is looking at his phone as he hovers in the air.
And then he just flies off without even saying goodbye. You’re too good for him, Jen!!!

With renewed determination, Jen and Carrie head off the next morning to Discovery, a very sleek and swank looking clinic that promises to help people “discover their power.” Jen is absolutely filled with hope up until the moment the woman tells them that packages start at £9,500—at which point they decide it is absolutely a better idea to just DIY the whole thing, because who has that kind of money?

Several billboards. The central one is muted colors of off-white and blue. There is feminine person standing in the center with one hand raise. Their head appears to be an upside down lampshade? Text: Discover. Find your power.
Not sure I would trust a place that wants to turn your head into a lampshade, but to each their own.

Armed with the internet and assisted by Carrie’s live-in boyfriend Kash (Bilal Hasna), they get straight to work! They are initially thrown a bit off-course, however, when Kash accidentally looks up ways to induce labor instead of ways to bring on your power, which leads to Jen eating some extremely spicy food. She bolts to a corner market where she is caught in the act of chugging milk straight from the bottle by her dickish-sometimes hookup. Not the most auspicious start. Not to worry, though. Soon enough, they are on the right track, where things, honestly, don’t go much better or less embarrassingly overall. 

Jen and dickish guy in  front of dairy coolers at store. She is holding a jug of open milk and her face is bright red. They are both looking toward the contents of his basket.
Right about now I would like the superpower to make Jen understand that it matters not one bit what this guy thinks. That she should guzzle that milk and then walk away with her dignity fully intact—leaving him standing stunned, alone, and momentarily blinded by the beads of her sweat that get flicked into his eyes when she turns suddenly to sashay away.

Now is as good a time as any to let you know that Jen also takes a stray cat who she, Carrie, Kash affectionately dub Jizzlord after an unfortunate event involving Gordon (Eros Vlahos), Jen’s date from an app, who has the power to make people (and maybe cats) orgasm simply by touching them. Anyway, his name and orgasm are just a side note to the fact that it turns out that Jizzlord (Luke Rollason) isn’t actually a cat, but rather a man with the power to shapeshift who got stuck in cat form about three years ago. Jen discovers this when Jizzlord suddenly turns back into a stark naked man in the middle of her bedroom while she’s in the midst of taking some intimate photos to send to her dickish hookup guy to distract him from a very rambling voicemail she left him while high on valium from a surprise dentist’s appointment sprung on her by Carrie while she was locked in the trunk of Kash’s car because of a failed faux kidnapping attempt. I told you the DIY power-getting project didn’t go so well. (I’ll admit that prior to this, I didn’t really give any thought to what a man who spent a solid chunk of time stuck in cat form might look like, but, wow, did they really nail the casting on this one.) Jizzlord, who is extremely relieved to be back in human form, has a lot of trouble remembering exactly how to human again or anything about himself. He remembers that he used to go someplace that was like “sadness but money,” which they put together is a job, but doesn’t remember his name or where he lived or a lot of other things. While Kash thinks they should send him away, Jen insists that since she took him in, it’s her responsibility to keep him until they find out who he is, which is how Jizzlord joins the gang. Probably unsurprisingly, Jizzlord turns out to be pretty insightful in his naiveté about how human beings work and what they actually need to be happy, while still saying absolutely bizarre and off-the-wall things.  

Also stellar casting? Gordon. The man who can make anyone orgasm by the merest touch.
Jizzlord
Jizzlord.
Jizzlord vs. can of tuna.
Jen's stepfather, mother in the front seat. Jen, her sister, Carrie, and Kash in the backseat as the voicemail that Jen left begins to play over the car's bluetooth speaker.
Please give the series an award for this scene when the embarrassing voicemail begins to play over the car’s bluetooth system while Jen, her sister Andy, her stepfather, and her mother, Carrie, and Kash are all a captive listening audience.

Meanwhile, Kash, who doesn’t have a job, but does maybe have dreams of being a superhero, gets the idea to start a vigilante group to fight crime. He has the power to slow down and reverse time, up to a certain point, which he mostly uses to help Jen be less late to work and to fix arguments with Carrie.

Kash standing by his mirror in a blue super hero costume with stick on orange letters that spell super clock, but the L has mostly fallen off. Jen is standing with her back to the camera, looking at him.
There is this moment when Jen catches Kash posing in his superhero costume that is supposed to say Super Clock, but the L has had a major mishap. He uses his time reversal powers in this instance as well, though the end result isn’t much better for him.

Am I making him sound like a bad guy? He’s not really. But he is apathetic and immature. Or as Jizzlord explains to him, Jen said he’s a “feckless loser who sponges off his girlfriends. And this nostalgic imitation of virility gives [him] the illusion of control over [his] emasculated, directionless existence.” But, Jizzlord adds gently, he didn’t really understand what most of those words mean. So, Kash auditions people for his group, which ends up including Seb (Sam Haygarth), who can summon sea creatures (but not control them) and has a really rich dad, Ade (Abraham Popoola), who can phase through solid objects (but not with his clothing on and he can’t always get back out), Randall (Shaun Mason), who can 3-D print things with his ass, which is as cringe-worthy as it sounds, and Gregor (Chris Lew Kum Hoi), who has both super-speed and a super-cocky attitude. These fellas get together and brainstorm exactly what kind of crime they’re going to fight—child sex offenders, telemarketers, rapists, and people who put their bag in the empty seat next to them all make the list. They finally decide on helping women, but definitely not because said women might be so grateful and thankful that it could possibly lead to the vigilantes getting sex out of the whole deal. Absolutely not that. In a very tense debate about whether Kash or Gregor should be team leader, Gregor nearly has the edge on Kash when he claims that by not having a girlfriend he “doesn’t just see women as sexual objects.” But then Kash makes the audacious claim that he knows where the clitoris is, which is met with astounded gasps from the other men in the room. The tension only grows tauter, though, when he’s challenged to prove his knowledge by labeling a diagram of female genitalia on the white board. Will Kash be able to deliver the clit in time? All I’ll say is that there are certain benefits to having a completely guileless former cat in your life who may or may  not have gotten so overwhelmed in the sanitary products aisle at the pharmacy that he passed out cold and then asked the friendly pharmacist what a period even was. This whole thing is a delightfully funny commentary on the pitfalls of the patriarchy. Anyway, a bunch of self-appointed heroes in homemade costumes, leaping upon unsuspecting, unconsenting women to “save them” from indeterminate dangers goes about as well as you would expect. And meanwhile, Carrie, feeling quite ignored by Kash, may try to find solace in long-dead men and may almost consider exploiting the same touch that earned Jizzlord his name. 

The vigilante group sitting in Kash's kitchen.
The vigilante group ready for a brainstorming session.

By now I hope it’s quite clear how divinely silly this show is, but what may not come across quite as much is how it manages to balance that with touching and tender moments that really highlight how the characters are trying to figure out themselves and their place in the world. In between all the antics and hijinks and ridiculous stunts is a deep well of human emotions and vulnerability. Like when Jen is telling Jizzlord that he needs to find out who he is, even if he’s afraid he won’t like who he used to be. “You can’t keep putting it off just because it might not be the answer you want,” she tells him, before realizing the same advice applies to her as well. He tells her that she’s very smart and she replies, “I’m a fucking idiot. I’m scared…nothing will change and then I won’t even have hope, I’ll have…me. I don’t like me.” It’s a rare and good show where in the same episode (or even the same scene) you can snort with laughter about something utterly ridiculous and then feel tender emotions about something that exemplifies the human experience. Some might even say it’s an extraordinary show that can do all that? What? Yes. Fair. Fair. I’ll see myself out. But do watch the show! 

Overall Rating on the Chronically Streaming Pain Scale:

1-Comfortable: Maybe there are some annoying twinges here and there, but overall the good outweighs the bad.

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