Life & Culture

Extraordinary TV review: A British sitcom with its own super power

Great concept and laughs aplenty from winner of scriptwriting competition


Disney + | ★★★★✩

A new comedy is like meeting a new classmate or work colleague; there’s hope and interest, but it’s best to remain noncommittal in case they turn out to be annoying.

Occasionally though, from that first moment of greeting, something magical happens and you’re pretty certain you’ve just made a new best friend.

The opening scene of a job interview in Extraordinary deftly lays out its premise, a young woman living in a world where everyone gets a random superpower at 18, but at 25 she’s still not found hers.

So far, nice concept. But as Jen keeps talking, and it transpires that the interviewer has the ability to get people to tell the truth, a few things become apparent. Jen’s a funny character with the perfect neurotic blend of innocence and cynicism.

Máiréad Tyers who plays Jen has funny bones. The script is really funny. too. And even though it’s about superpowers and is on Disney+, this most certainly isn’t for kids. Unsurprisingly, Jen fails to get the job.

As the world of the series opens up, what is surprising is how much money has been invested in special effects to properly sell it. It isn’t Marvel level, but this is more cinematic than any other British sitcom I’ve seen, yet maintains a certain grounded, grungy charm.

What’s also a shocker is how original they have developed the not massively original idea (see the Astro City comic book) that everyone has superpowers, and not only for comedic exploitation).

I say “they” but I had to stop the first episode after five minutes to look up who was responsible. Emma Moran? No real prior credits.

A bit more Googling and it turns out this was greenlit after she won a scriptwriting competition that she entered while living back home with her parents during lockdown. I’m not sure whether to be inspired or depressed. I dive back in.

Everything just makes sense. Of course when everyone has a power some are bound to be rubbish, and, of course, entire industries are going to be set up to cleverly exploit those powers.

In fact, the real freaks are more likely to be the people who want to use theirs to stop crime, embodied by flatmate loser Kash who can turn back time.

Which he uses to extricate himself from embarrassment when we first meet him into a situation just as awkward. His girlfriend Carrie has the ability to channel the dead, so she works for a law firm settling wills.

And when off-work she brings back Hitler.

It’s done as a party trick to make Jen feel better, so they can shout abuse at Hitler and wind him up with the prevalence of homosexual and interracial relationships.

This scene’s indicative of much of the eight episodes. It might seem a bit distasteful, but it’s funny and I bet it’s what someone would do given the chance.

And then Jen drops the line, “The Jews are broadly doing OK.” Broadly! I guess Emma Moran’s super power isn’t just being funny. It’s astuteness.

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