The writing by newcomer Emma Moran is sharp, pacey, with an admirably light-touch handling of generational observations that might be hammered flat of humour by other hands. Progressive male anxiety forms a B-plot, one episode sees Carrie tempted to ignore her feminist values for a fat pay cheque, a pharmacist affectionately comments “you young people and your genders. Love it!”… It feels modern but airy and preaches to nobody.
The two leads – Tyers and Oxenham – are terrific. Motormouths well able for the often-strange demands of this comedy, they’re both convincing and charismatic. Treats pop up all over the supporting cast too, from screen magic Luke Rollason to Call the Midwife’s Ella Bruccoleri. Not least, Derry Girls’ Siobhan McSweeney as Jen’s mum, who’s great but underused until the finale and should be written into every scene of the soon-to-film second series – even Jen’s sex scenes. More Siobhan McSweeney in everything, please. Ardal O’Hanlon plays Jen’s dad Martin, perhaps her only healthy family relationship, with touching affection.
Affection that never sways into schmaltz. Overall, the sense of humour here is juvenile and refreshingly allergic to sincerity (one episode is titled ‘The Real Powers are the Friends we Made Along the Way’, for a sense of the ironic tone). There are sex gags, bum gags, a very good line about someone having super-powered tits… But there’s also the relatable charm of jokes based on real-world stuff, like being treated as an appliance at work, or being broke and dreaming of Tenderstem© Broccoli.
There are also odd moments of real connection between the characters, and the whole thing is steeped in a very recognisable sense of mid-twenties frustration. The feeling that everybody else is doing better than you at life is written in flashing lights ten feet tall for Jen, who is defined by her lack of power, career and boyfriend. Over the course of these eight half-hour episodes though, if it’s not too cheesy a remark, even she gets somewhere empowering. A very enjoyable binge-watch. Bring on Series 2.
Extraordinary is available to stream now on Disney+ in the UK and Hulu in the US.