Historically, it has been difficult for teen girls and young women to find science fiction television shows that are geared toward them. I’m talking about futuristic programs with no supernatural fantasy or horror elements. Therefore, shows such as ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ wouldn’t count. The teen drama ‘Smallville’ has science fiction elements. However, the ‘Roswell’ show is probably a closer match. While written primarily with females in mind, the show has plenty of male fans.
‘Roswell’ aired from 1999-2002. The initial series idea is based on the ‘Roswell High’ young adult book series written by Melinda Metz. The TV show was originally called ‘Roswell High,’ and the WB network shortened the title to ‘Roswell.’ A fortunate move, because with the earlier title, the marketing department may have wanted the show to move in a less serious and more campy direction than it did. The show has funny moments, but it is ultimately a well-written drama, though some seasons have better writing than others.
The show begins with a revelation that three aliens have emerged from pods in the desert. They are in the form of young human children, two boys and a girl. Two of them are adopted by a wealthy family and given the names Max and Isabel. The third grows up in a trailer park and is named Michael. The show occurs during the time these aliens are in high school. Max heals the student waitress Liz Parker after she is shot in the lower chest by a gunmen. Max uses alien powers to heal her and leaves a white, glowing handprint mark on her skin. This event causes certain authority figures to become suspicious of the teens.
During the first season, the FBI’s special alien hunting unit becomes interested in the students at Roswell, suspecting that some of the students are not human. A local sheriff also becomes suspicious of the alien trio. This is where the good writing and acting of the show pays off. The intense level of paranoia, intrigue, and fascinating alien mysteries elevate this show above the typical high school program.
There is a palpable sense of “meta” about the show. It’s surreal to watch Max working at a UFO Center where there is a life-size display of a 1947 Roswell “alien” being dissected on a table. Max eventually becomes the leader of the trio of aliens, with a fourth teen alien girl added at the end of the first season. The power struggle between the alien teens is interesting to observe, particularly because Michael is the rebel of the group and Isabel is a control freak.
After the first season, the WB network almost cancelled the show because of low ratings. However, the show had a loyal cult following who engineered one of the most creative fan campaigns in the history of television. The aliens in the show are known to have a fondness for Tabasco hot sauce, so the fans mailed many bottles of Tabasco sauce to the network, resulting in a renewal for a second season.
All three seasons of ‘Roswell’ are available for purchase on DVD.