What it lacks in depth, it makes up for in awkward gaiety

Máiréad Tyers in Extraordinary (Laura Radford/Disney+)

Máiréad Tyers in Extraordinary (Laura Radford/Disney+)

In many ways, the premise of the new Disney+ Extraordinary show is, unlike the title, quite familiar. A group of 20-somethings living together in an inexplicably nice flat in East London throw themselves straight into the intimidating world of adults without jobs, dates and friendships with hilarious and heart-wrenching consequences.

For now, so ordinary (except how the unemployed, party shop saleswoman and paralegal can afford a two-story, of course). That is, until our 25-year-old heroine, the hilariously honest Jen (Máiréad Tyers), fails an interview (in which she blurts out that “sometimes I wonder if I’m a bit racist”) .

It’s only when he leaves the posh offices in central London that we see where the show’s title comes from. Crowds of commuters pass overhead as she makes her way home, gliding across the capital’s skyline. A passerby chats on Facetime in front of an iPhone suspended in the air, while another lights a cigarette with just his fingertips.

In this parallel universe, created by Have I Got News For You writer Emma Moran and the producers of Killing Eve, everyone over the age of 18 develops superpowers. It turns out that everyone except Jen.

Jen’s roommate, Carrie’s perpetually restless paralegal (Poldark star Sofia Oxenham) can communicate with the dead (useful when settling wills and estates of deceased celebrities in her law firm). Carrie’s well-meaning but somewhat hapless boyfriend, Kash (newcomer Bilal Hasna), can turn back time and has grand plans to use his unemployed time off to build a self-proclaimed army using citizens with the most socially useful powers.

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

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

If you think this all sounds a bit silly, don’t worry, it’s very much so. Fortunately, it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Aware of its inherent ridiculousness, it never feels like the writers, or even the cast, take themselves seriously at all. Adding a supernatural element to everyday situations is obviously very useful in comedy and results in some really high-profile moments.

Despite being set in a parallel universe, there are some constants, and Extraordinary excels at capturing the awkward and comical essence of the ordinary. Humans seem to defy galaxies in their ability to be flaky and toxic. It’s just that when Jen seeks solace in dating Luke on a regular basis, instead of calling an Uber home, he literally flies out the window, leaving her alone to pee after sex.

Or there’s another disastrous one-night stand (do you sense a motive?) with a painfully awkward man who can make people orgasm with just one touch – only he doesn’t use it because it’s important for him to know that he can “do it yourself”. Of course, he can’t do it at a time so predictable that you’d almost expect a Fleabag look in front of the camera.

The alchemical combination of a razor-sharp comedic script with Killing Eve’s subtle undertones and the unique talent of much newer faces provides the perfect backdrop to the Gen Z comedic success. Tyers is flawless as the incredibly self-aware and honest Jen, whose misadventures make up most of the show’s punch lines. Hasna also delivers a masterclass in her debut performance as Kash, instantly stealing every scene she’s in with the impeccable comedic finesse of a seasoned professional.

While there are some heartfelt moments, Unusual is ultimately about the laughs. At times it feels like the show lacks a bit of depth – don’t expect any capital M ‘messages’ or capital T ‘themes’ other than a somewhat trivial notion that everything is fine. But what the show lacks in depth it makes up for with a mix of comforting and awkward hilarity. The perfect antidote to the January blues.

It’s amazing on Disney+

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