Extraordinary on Disney+ review: What it lacks in depth the show makes up for in awkward hilarity

Máiréad Tyers in Extraordinary  (Laura Radford/Disney+)
Máiréad Tyers in Extraordinary (Laura Radford/Disney+)

In many ways, the premise of new Disney+ show Extraordinary is, contrary to its title, actually pretty familiar. A group of twentysomethings living together in an inexplicably nice East London flatshare, thrust headfirst into navigating the intimidating adult world of dead-end jobs, dating and friendships with hilarious and heartwarming consequences.

So far, so ordinary (apart from how an unemployed person, a party shop attendant and a legal assistant can afford a split-level, of course). That is, until our 25-year-old protagonist, the hilariously candid Jen (Máiréad Tyers), flunks a job interview (in which, among listing far too many of her worst qualities, she blurts out that “sometimes I wonder if I’m a little bit racist”).

It’s not until she leaves the swanky central London offices that we see where the show derives its title from. Hoards of commuters fly overhead as she walks home, weaving through the capital’s skyline. A passerby chats on facetime in front of an iPhone suspended in mid-air, while another lights a cigarette using just his fingertips.

In this parallel universe, the brainchild of Have I Got News For You writer Emma Moran and the producers of Killing Eve, everyone over the age of 18 develops a superpower. Everyone except for Jen, it transpires.

Jen’s flatmate, a perennially anxious legal assistant Carrie (Poldark star Sofia Oxenham) can communicate with the dead (useful when settling will-readings and the estates of dead celebrities in her law firm). Carrie’s well-meaning but slightly hapless boyfriend Kash (newcomer Bilal Hasna) can turn back time, and has grand plans to use his unemployed free time to build a vigilante army using citizens with the most socially useful powers.

From left, Mairead Tyers, Luke Rollason aand John Macmillan (Laura Radford/Disney+)
From left, Mairead Tyers, Luke Rollason aand John Macmillan (Laura Radford/Disney+)

If you’re thinking that this all sounds a bit silly, don’t worry, it very much is. Luckily, it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Self-aware about its inherent ridiculousness, there is never a sense that the writers or even the cast are taking themselves at all seriously. Adding a supernatural element to everyday situations is obviously very comedically useful and makes for some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments.

Despite being in a parallel universe, there are some constants, and it’s in capturing the awkward and comic essence of the ordinary that Extraordinary excels. Men, it seems, defy galaxies in their capacity to be flakey and toxic. It’s just that when Jen seeks solace in regular hook up Luke, instead of calling an Uber home he literally flies out of the window leaving her stranded during a post-coital pee.

Or there’s another disastrous one-night stand (are you sensing a theme?) with a painfully awkward man with the power to make people orgasm with just a touch – except he doesn’t use it as it’s important for him to know he can “do it himself”. He can’t obviously, in a moment so predictable that you almost expect a Fleabag-esque look to camera.

An alchemical combination of razor-sharp comedic writing with subtle notes of Killing Eve and exceptional talent from largely newer faces provides the perfect backdrop for a Gen Z comedy success. Tyers is flawless as the excruciatingly self-aware and honest Jen, whose misfortunes provide much of the show’s punchlines. Hasna also delivers a masterclass in his debut performance as Kash, instantly stealing every scene he is in with the impeccable comedic finesse of a seasoned professional.

While there are some sincere moments, Extraordinary is ultimately all about the laughs. At times it does feel like the show lacks a little depth – don’t expect any capital-M “messages” or capital-T “themes” beyond the slightly trite notion that it’s okay to just be okay. But what the show lacks in profundity it makes up for in a blend of comforting and awkward hilarity. The perfect antidote to the January blues.

Extraordinary is on Disney+