Believe it or not: CW Network to air “Aliens in America”

By Malena Amusa Jul 17, 2007

Universe, I’m just at a loss of words about what I’m about to talk about. Watch the video below, and together, we’ll discuss what’s troubling but also intriguing about this new sitcom "Aliens in America" that starts this fall on the CW Network. The CW website describes the show as a look at one white Wisconsin family and its 16-year-old son. Here’s the rap: The son suffers in school because he’s not as popular as his sister and of course, because high school is hell for skinny, pubescent, socially awkward white boys. So to change his life around, the family orders an exchange student at the nudging of a counselor who tells the family they’ll be getting a Nordic stud who’s athletic and charming…you know, someone who can make the American boy look popular by association. But instead–and get this–instead of getting a "cool" exchange student, the site says, the boy gets a Muslim from Pakistan. But eventually, and it better had been this way– the boy and the Muslim form an "unlikely friendship" that becomes the basis of the sitcom. (Oh, Allah!) Here, watch the extended trailer: Is this show wise in our political climate? Because it’s tricky. The sitcom is not full-frontal racism. In fact, and you’ll see, the show mocks Midwestern whites who think Pakistanis executed 9/11; and also the sitcom captures how this white boy–a symbol of white America–derives strength from forming alliances with Brown people. After all, like the Muslim boy said in the movie, "if we brush our teeth together, you’ll see, we both do it the same." So yes, the show runs long on stereotypes and the stuff that makes racial justice progressives shift and turn in our seats, but it establishes a pretty clear social critique that asks: aren’t we all aliens in some spaces?