Two years later, ‘Aliens in America’ cancelation still worth lamenting

Cast--aliens-in-america-653847_769_1024I was going to write this post after the dismal ratings for the series premiere of “Fly Girls” on the CW, then decided against it.

Then I saw Amy Pietz beginning a recurring arc on NBC’s “The Office” Thursday, and I couldn’t get the premise out of my head.

The two small events both make me think of “Aliens in America,” the great comedy that aired for one season on the CW in the 2007-08 season before being canceled. And the premise is this: 

If you’re going to get lousy ratings, at least do something worthwhile.

“Fly Girls” got a 0.5 rating in the 18-49 and 18-34 demos and barely more than a million viewers overall. And to what end? A glossified infomercial for Virgin America (an airline, I’ll confess, I love) that basically no one wants to see. 

In contrast, “Aliens in America” was something special. As I wrote about the show upon its demise:

… throughout the season, the show never sold out its characters in its pursuit of a good time, cloaking in its humor a number of real issues and nicely paralleling Raja’s insider-outsider status with the struggle of lead character Justin (Dan Byrd) to fit in at school. The final three episodes were something of a tour de force, addressing sex, drunk driving and, in Sunday’s finale, the push-pull relationship between American and immigrant Muslims, as illustrated by Raja’s first pursuit of a girlfriend. Material this intelligent or nuanced is still pretty rare on television, and rarer still when you can laugh and feel at the same time.

Others here will tout “The Big Bang Theory,” but in my mind, “Aliens” was the best freshman sitcom on network television this season. And now it’s gone. …

And now series lead Dan Byrd is on ABC’s “Cougar Town,” and Lindsay Shaw is on ABC Family’s “10 Things I Hate About You,” and Adhir Kalyan has been doing CBS’ “Rules of Engagement,” and the rest — including Pietz — are underused.

I realize TV is not as simple as this-for-that, that all kinds of economics are involved and so on. The CW isn’t even in the comedy business anymore. But the CW simply doesn’t have enough content to make palatable letting a gem like “Aliens in America” go.

As shows like “Fly Girls” crash and burn, it just seems like a shame.  Critical value isn’t everything, but it should count for something — especially amid a dearth of compelling alternatives. “Aliens” should be giving the CW the happy buzz of a successful, increasingly watched third season, rather than fading into distant memory.

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  1. Roxanne says:

    It`s been a long time since I came across such a truly pure and funny tv series. All good things must come to an end, I guess, yet I still feel we were robbed since it was just 1 season. Here`s hoping good tv doesn`t go extinct.

  2. Jon Weisman says:

    Of course, Cougar Town – that’s what I meant. That ABC comedy block is a tricky one :)

  3. A says:

    Dan Byrd is on Cougar Town, maybe you have heard of it, a comedy that was originally about a cougar’s dating life but has since retooled to be a fun show about this group of likable quirky friends.

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