Extraordinary is a show that doesn’t try to be, well, extraordinary. Instead, it goes the exact opposite route, wanting to be relatable and identifiable with its target audience. Taking place in a world where everyone gets a superpower after they turn 18, the show follows a 25-year-old woman named Jen who doesn’t have a superpower yet, despite having waited 7 years.
Not just that, but she’s single, lives in a house-share, hates her job, and constantly butts heads with her family. To Jen, her life seems like it’s over, but this only inspires her to take charge and turn her life around with the help of her two best friends.
Let’s start with the most pressing question: Is this show relatable? Well, both yes and no. Relatability is subjective, of course, and largely dependent on the experiences of the person watching, but Extraordinary has enough going for it that most new adults would recognize themselves in it.
There are liberties taken, of course — despite their money problems, characters can seemingly go out whenever they feel like it and don’t seem to have any proper work schedule — but for the most part, Extraordinary feels inspired by real-life experiences minus the superpowers.
Unfortunately, Extraordinary also tries too hard at times to be relatable, with the characters occasionally slipping down to caricature-level. Jen is, at times, just the sarcastic bitter friend, Carrie the ditzy blonde, and Kash the man-child. The three make choices that don’t really make sense for people their age to make, and say things that don’t really make sense in the context of their characters.
Adults can still make awful decisions, of course, and say things to hurt others intentionally, but actions like embarrassing your teenage sister during her graduation or scoffing at your friend for crying over her problems feel like things teenagers would do rather than adults, no matter how new to adulthood they are.
Maybe you’re thinking that there are 25-year-olds out there who would do such things, even if most don’t. Girls had a similar situation as well — Hannah Horvath and her friends constantly acted in ways most 20-somethings would consider beneath them — but Girls had smart enough writing that most of the actions made sense in the context of the characters. Hannah and her friends were pretentious and self-absorbed so they acted accordingly, and they also lacked the self-awareness to know better.
Extraordinary’s characters, however, all seem grounded and sensible enough. They should have the knowledge to at least think twice before doing something awful, but the show occasionally forces them to act meaner and dumber than they are in order to force a coming-of-age narrative for the episode. These moments make the characters feel under the foothold of the screenplay rather than their actions and dialogue happening naturally.
Luckily, Extraordinary is a pretty funny sitcom. Even if the laughs may happen a little too sporadically, Extraordinary succeeds in its humor. There are some really clever and quick-witted jokes here, especially ones that concern the superpower world they live in. One particularly funny one is when Jen jealously watches a girl magically change her hair color and says, “I can do that. It’s called a wig.”
However, the corny sitcom-style humor is still there in tidbits, like when Jen starts acting high and infantile after going to the dentist. Depending on your tolerance for this kind of joke, Extraordinary’s funnier moments may not be worth it, but if you can stomach the show occasionally going for juvenile humor, Extraordinary is sure to give you at least one laugh-out-loud moment with every episode.
The show is also bolstered by a stellar cast — Máiréad Tyers, Sofia Oxenham, Bilal Hasna, and Luke Rollason all give stellar performances as their respective characters. The four main cast members all have great chemistry with each other, which is needed for a show with so many scenes of the friendships between the main characters.
Extraordinary could’ve actually benefited from doing away with the searching-for-romance subplot (or at least kept it to a minimum) and instead focused greater on these four just being friends and dealing with the ups and downs of adult friendship. The show’s friendships felt far more genuine than the romances.
One character, in particular, develops an interesting friendship with Jen, only for her to disappear after one episode. The show acts like she never existed afterward, despite the fact that Jen seemed genuinely happy to have met her. It feels like a missed opportunity for a show so interested in growing into adulthood to not explore how friendships change as you get older, at least not past the surface level.
Extraordinary also has two other saving graces: its soundtrack and cinematography. Young and new adult properties always seem to have the best songs in them, or at least, the songs that best appeal to their target demographic, and Extraordinary is no exception. There is some great indie pop and rock here that fit very well with the scenes they accompany.
The show also looks fantastic, with plenty of pleasant-looking shots and camera work. The characters often walk around their city and Extraordinary makes it look very welcoming. There’s a sense of warmth and even nostalgia with how the setting is presented, making the show even more inviting to anyone wanting to reminisce over the fun and troubles of growing into adulthood.
If you liked shows like Girls and Love Life, you’ll probably like Extraordinary just fine. Titles like these are easy to make fun of (Girls, in particular, has been parodied a lot) but there is a place for movies and shows that empathize with the average new adult, the same way many empathize with the average teenager. Extraordinary isn’t for everyone, and even for its intended audience, it isn’t an especially memorable time either — but it is funny, charming, and sentimental enough that it’s worth a watch.
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Extraordinary offers a sweet and funny enough look at being in your 20s, but can’t quite compete in terms of depth and intelligence with other titles that attempt the same thing.
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