“What if everyone had power except for you?” That’s the central question posed by “Extraordinary,” a new Hulu original that centers on Jen, a 25-year-old woman who doesn’t get her powers at 18 like everyone else. The first episode serves to set up some essential plot points for our heroine and the universe that she lives in. But for a show that’s called “Extraordinary,” the series seems to take a pretty bland approach to its writing.
Jen is a brash, red-haired narcissist who is surrounded by her supernatural counterparts. This creates an interesting dynamic between her and the other characters, whose unique powers vary in usefulness.
One of the first characters we’re introduced to is Jen‘s lover, Luke, who has the ability to fly. It’s a fairly run-of-the-mill superpower compared to her roommate Carrie, who can channel the dead through her body as a vessel. Although not many superheroes can claim to do that, the show’s uniqueness in powers gives a lot of variety to work with, especially when establishing jokes.
For example, another character — whose name remains unknown in episode one — has the power to make anybody orgasm from skin-to-skin contact. While the idea is childish, it does set up some humor from Jen and the others. Jen, after being cheated on by Luke, finds herself trying to earn the affectionate touch of the unidentified man. After a rather awkward night spent lying next to him with a wall of pillows, he ultimately leaves without any orgasm-inducing contact, adding to her disappointment.
At the very least, the abilities depicted in the show can be described as eccentric. It’s like somebody asked, “What are some of the worst superpowers that a person could have?” and then used it as the basis for all the characters. But the issue is that besides a few moments where the punchline lands, it’s still hard to get through the first episode.
I don’t find Jen to be particularly funny despite her lovably quirky Irish accent. She’s far too annoying as a main character. She’s jealous, miserable and overall terrible at organizing her life. Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue within the world of sitcoms, but the supporting cast around her do very little to make her personality appealing. Even by the end of the episode, where it’s revealed that her father — who she spoke to on the phone — was actually channeled through Carrie, I actually found myself laughing and more surprised than sympathetic to her issues.
I’m unsure if the writers ended up ironing out some of the pilot episode issues, but they were so numerous that it made it difficult for me to continue watching, even with friends. The direction that the episode took through the plot seemed very haphazard, and with poor transitioning sequences. And Hulu, despite having millions of dollars at its disposal, managed to produce some of the worst CGI I’ve seen in mainstream television since The CW’s “The Flash.” Where I ultimately drew the line was when Jen had Carrie conjure up the ghost of Hitler to cheer her up at the dinner table.
I had very high hopes for “Extraordinary” but instead, I was left disappointed. I think the superhero trope has been played out enough and there’s not a lot you can do to subvert our expectations as audiences. However, I was hopeful that the main question posed by the creators of the show would at least give us more to explore than orgasm and Hitler jokes.