The first moments of Hulu’s new comedy Extraordinary — a series of 8 half-hour episodes this, full disclosure, I’m completely obsessed with – presenting the viewer with a familiar scene and a mundane exchange. A young woman named Jen, dressed to perfection, is shown applying for a job in what appears to be some sort of boardroom. She hands a stack of papers to her interlocutor, and the comings and goings begin.
The familiar questions: Why do you need this job…what do you bring to the table. .. you got the idea. Where things take an abrupt turn, however, is when Jen begins to blurt out uncomfortably truthful answers.
How was your trip?
“It was terrible! I took the bus, because I’m poor, and it smelled like hot raw chicken. And I’m really nervous, so I thought I’d put myself all the way there. inside – but I didn’t! And if I’m sitting weird, it’s because I think my tampon came out… but I didn’t have time to go to the bathroom downstairs, because that I slept in….
From there, you can only imagine Jen’s answers to questions like why she wants this job – and then when the eye patch-wearing interviewer asks if there’s anything else Jen wants. ask, Jen can’t help but ask if there’s a gross, ugly hole behind that patch.
That’s because, as the interviewer explains to Jen — and, by extension, to us — getting overwhelmingly truthful answers from people is the gift of this interview. His “power”, in the jargon of the series.
This is also the simple premise behind extraordinary plot: In the normal, modern world of this show, everyone gets their “power” — from super-strength to shape-shifting — on or shortly after their 18th birthday. Everyone except Jen.
Her boss at work, for example, is an older woman who still looks like a little kid (not sure what a superpower that is, but here goes). Jen’s sister, a violin virtuoso, learns that her power is super strong when she accidentally rips off the front door of her refrigerator. Throughout Episode 1, Jen is shown talking to her dad – but, at the end of the episode, we see Jen, still on the phone with him, curled up on the bed with her roommate as the roommate channels the voice of Jen’s father (talking with people in the afterlife is her superpower, which is how the show tells us Jen’s father is dead).
The show, in my opinion, delivers the perfect blend of goofiness, heart, irreverent humor, and growing-up commentary, making it one of my favorite binges on Hulu for quite some time. Here is the official Extraordinary synopsis from Hulu, which also adds what is sort of the show’s moral:
“Ten years ago, everyone over 18 had their superpower. But Jen, a painfully self-aware 25-year-old, is still waiting for hers. She would take anything at this point. Adrift in a vast, confusing world and armed with nothing but a little hope, a lot of despair, and her housemates, Jen begins her journey to find her superpower, perhaps. But in doing so, she might discover the joy of just being pretty good.
“An invigorating and welcome sincerity”
As we noted in a separate article A few days ago, Extraordinary also happens to be one of the few new streaming shows right now to garner near-universal praise from critics — as Hulu’s comedy still clings to a 100% perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this writing.
“These eight hugely binge-worthy episodes manage to arrive for…a satisfying landing, backed by a bracing, welcome sincerity that’s always been there, mixed in with all those fart jokes,” an NPR reviewer comments on the show, in one of these Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes reviewers. Adds another reviewer, this one from Time magazine:
“True to its title, Extraordinary combines and alters familiar tropes into something truly unique. What he also does dead Pool look as bold as The Incredibles is just a bonus.
As for the audience side of the equation on the review aggregation site, Extraordinary also has a very high rating of 93%, which makes this series one of the few in recent memory where critics and viewers are quite close. Definitely check this one out – and if you need more ideas on what to watch on Hulu, you can always check out our guide covering the streamer’s latest titles below.