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TV Review: Aliens In America
Aliens in America
Creators: David Guarasco and Moses Port
Starring: Dan Byrd, Adhir Kalyan, Amy Pietz, Lindsey Shaw and Scott Patterson
Premieres: Monday, October 1st at 8:30 pm on The CW
Aliens in America centers on a geeky teenager named Justin Tolchuk (Dan Byrd) and Raja (Adhir Kalyan), the equally dorky Muslim foreign exchange student staying with Justin’s family. When I heard about the premise of this new CW show, without having seen any promos for the series, I assumed it was going to be a family drama meant to teach lots of lessons about racial/religious tolerance. I was wrong – kind of. For one thing, it’s a comedy, not a drama series and while it does definitely touch on racial and religious intolerance, the show is be doing it from a much lighter, comedic approach.
We’re introduced to Justin Tolchuk, a geeky 16-year-old who can’t seem to fit in at school no matter what he does. This year he thinks everything’s going to change now that he has his braces off. Unfortunately, junior year is looking just as grim as the previous years.
In an effort to help their son get friends through association, Justin’s parents agree to house a foreign exchange student. They’re expecting a good-looking, charismatic kid to show up and instead, they’re greeted by Raja. Raja is a Muslim kid from Pakistan who, under normal circumstances, would be a parent’s dream. He’s polite, hard-working and eager to learn about America. They consider sending him back but eventually, Raja grows on them and they decide to keep him.
So while Raja isn’t going to earn Justin any cool points, the two start to become friends as Justin begins to realize that this is probably the one person who isn’t going to mock or judge him for his dorky ways. I know the premise sounds corny but there’s enough humor throughout the show to make up for the cheesy life-lesson about tolerance. For example, Justin’s sister Claire (Lindsey Shaw), having developed into a hottie over the summer, is thrilled to learn that she’s been included on a list made by the senior guys naming the top ten most bangable girls in school. This is good news, though she does express some concern over whether or not her new social status will conflict with her softball practice. Priorities.
Justin’s parents also serve to add a bit of humor. Gary Tolchuk has a regular job but is always looking for new ways to make money – like breeding alpacas in the backyard. Meanwhile, Justin’s mom, Franny, dotes on her children and even quit the PTA to dedicate more of her time to helping Justin be normal. The thing is, Justin is normal. He’s an average-looking teenager who, due to the cruel politics of high school, just happens to be at the bottom of the food chain.
The first episode of Aliens in America is surprisingly funny and definitely worth watching. The characters are charming and I’m interested to see how the story unfolds as the season goes on. There’s some sex-related humor throughout the episode so I wouldn’t advise parents to let the little ones watch it before they have a chance to see it first. If it were a movie I’d probably rate it PG-13.
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