Think of the most ridiculous superpowers one could have and you might just find these in the new Disney+/Hulu original series Extraordinary which premiered on January 25th. At a time where pop culture is saturated with superhero related content, Extraordinary may be easy to overlook, but it should be at the top of your next-to-binge list. The cast is led by rising UK actors Máiréad Tyers, Sofia Oxenham, Bilal Hasna, and Luke Rollason, along with Derry Girls star Siobhán McSweeney, film and television actor Robbie Gee (Desmond’s, Snatch), Ned Porteous (Emmerdale Farm), and Safia Oakley-Green (Sherwood).
The British series takes place in a world where everyone acquires a superpower once they turn 18, and there are a variety of powers one can have. Aside from the obvious ones we see early on like the ability to fly, invisibility, and super fast speed, we are introduced to some more unique ones. We meet a character who can make anyone orgasm by simply touching him and another who’s butt is a literal 3D printer (it should be obvious by now that this series is meant for an adult audience). Jen, (Tyers), however is 25 years old and still has not obtained a power.
Jen lives with her best friend Carrie (Oxenham) who can channel the dead by using her body as a vessel. She works with a wills and estates law firm where her power is used to help settle disputes by allowing the dead to communicate their wishes. Jen’s other roommate is Carrie’s boyfriend Kash (Hasna) who can rewind time, but his power is limited to only a few minutes of time. Kash is unemployed and feeling unmotivated until he conjures up the idea to use his power for good by forming a vigilante group of superheroes to protect society. The hilarious auditions scene is where we really get to see the range of powers people in that world have.
Jen’s half-sister Andy (Oakley-Green) is turning 18, and Jen is dreading attending her birthday party where everyone witnesses the arrival of her power. Their mother (McSweeney), who has the ability to control digital devices with her hands, is ecstatic to find out that Andy has developed the power of super strength. This certainly doesn’t help Jen’s ego which her stepfather Ian (Gee) can easily figure out with his ability to read people’s moods. This results in Jen becoming even more desperate to get her own power.
There are clinics specializing in helping those who still have not developed their powers, but of course these are costly and therefore not an option for Jen. With the help of Carrie and Kash she even endures a DIY approach by researching ways to provoke the development of powers. These include ingesting extremely spicy food and engaging in activities that are terrifying for the individual.
Jen, Carrie, and Kash find a new friend in a stray cat they bring in to their home. After a few days, the cat, who they have lovingly name Jizzlord, transforms into a human (Rollason) who informs them that he is a shapeshifter and has been stuck as a cat for three years. He can’t remember who he is or anything about his lifeand the three of them try to help him re-enter society as a human and find out his identity.
The series is filled with humour and over-the-top scenarios while integrating a concept many can relate to: we want to feel like we have purpose and meaning in life. Though Jen’s friends and family all have superpowers, they too are struggling in some way in their lives. While these are more “serious” themes, it is still a comedy at heart and ultimately a feel-good journey.
Before Extraordinary premiered, it was announced that Disney+ already ordered a second season and informed the cast and crew at the launch party. There’s a lot more storylines that could be explored with the series and it will be interesting to see what happens next.
Extraordinary is streaming on Disney+ in the UK, Ireland, Canada, and Australia, and on Hulu in the US.
Watch Popternative’s interview with the cast of Extraordinary here.
Helen Roumeliotis is the Editor-in-Chief at Popternative and currently a PhD candidate in Cultural Mediations at Carleton University. She enjoys writing and learning about how pop culture can be used as tools for education. You can follow her on Instagram @helenroum.
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