REVIEW: E4’s The Aliens is standard E4 fare with a clumsy social message
When I think of aliens, I imagine the stereotypical green men with some passing resemblance to Master Yoda. I certainly don’t imagine them looking (and behaving) exactly like I do – and yet that’s the premise of the interesting and fun-filled new E4 comedy-drama The Aliens.
The world of The Aliens is our world, except forty years ago a spaceship landed and its remarkably human-like residents slowly integrated into life on Earth. They got on with their lives in much the same way as regular humans – apart from a fondness for smoking personal body hair – and thought nothing more of it until right wing politics and growing public resentment forced first and second generation galactic immigrants into ghettos.
The world of The Aliens is our world, with a clumsy alien metaphor. It highlights a world of prejudice, filled with fears about immigration and politicians pretending to be concerned but really only looking to boost their own public platform. The Aliens gets across its point on how ridiculous this all is by the fact the so-called aliens have basically no features that distinguish them from regular human beings. The social message is like a sledgehammer to the head – impossible to miss. Disney are routinely subtler than this.
The “Us vs. Them” mentality is a common theme across young adult audiences, and 16-24 year olds are E4’s target audience. The Aliens could be described as this year’s Humans, though it is not as deftly written. It also shares a strikingly similar tone to E4’s Misfits, though this is no surprise as writer Fintan Ryan is at the helm. Ryan was also involved in BBC Three’s zombie hit In The Flesh a couple of years back, which was also similar in tone. The Aliens is a very solid example of the genre – funny, hard-hitting and socially conscious – but lacks any unique quality that might ensure it is noticed for more than its stance on immigration.