A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Resident Alien is a comedy-drama series about an extraterrestrial trying to fit in among humans in a small Colorado town. The series stars an ethnically- and racially-diverse supporting cast of characters that, while generally flawed, possess some admirable qualities. Language includes the use of "s--t," "d--k," "bastard," "hell," "bitch," and "taint." Characters, including a child, “flip the bird.” A character flirts in a bar, and another talks about her teenage pregnancy. A nude, male character is shown briefly, although his private parts are hidden from view.
The series contains some potentially unsettling scenes and imagery, including a man attacked and drowned by an alien, as well as an autopsy featuring plenty of human organs. There's also plenty of references to murder, including a running joke about the alien needing to eliminate a child that can identify him. There's also a character in a physically abusive relationship, who displays cuts and bruises on her face. A man also reveals a gun in his belt in a threatening manner. Characters drink beer and whiskey to the point of drunkenness.
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What's the story?
RESIDENT ALIEN is based on a comic book series of the same name. It tells the story of an alien who's crashed his ship on Earth, while on a mission to wipe out the human race. This quickly leads to the extraterrestrial invader (Alan Tudyk) killing a local doctor and stealing his identity in an attempt to fit in among the quirky populace of a tiny Colorado mountain town. This premise takes the series in a number of narrative directions, borrowing from various genres and subgenres, including comedy, drama, science fiction, and mystery.
Is it any good?
Countless TV series and films have utilized the fish-out-of-water premise, mining tons of comedic and dramatic mileage from characters trying to acclimate to unfamiliar environments. At first glance, Resident Alien's extraterrestrial-stuck-on-Earth story seems like another attempt to squeeze any remaining originality from the cliched conceit. But thanks to fantastic performances -- most notably Tudyk's thoughtful, nuanced turn as the titular foreigner -- this latest trip through well-trodden territory feels like a breath of fresh air.
Even when the series walks the tightrope with potentially tired jokes, like an alien consuming alcohol for the first time, Tudyk puts an unexpected spin on it. It doesn't hurt that the show isn't the straight comedy you might expect, but rather a bizarre blend of genres that continually surprise. One moment Resident Alien might evoke the folksy, quirky charm of Northern Exposure, before pivoting to a murder mystery, or taking an even darker, more mature turn. The unpredictable structure might not appeal to everyone, but again, Tudyk's excellent performance -- whether he's playing clueless doctor, armchair detective, loyal friend, or evil-doing E.T. -- is the common thread that'll keep you engaged regardless of where the wild plot takes you.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the various characters in the small town. What are their professional roles in the town? What are their relationships like? How do their lives differ from people who live in large cities?
What human qualities does the alien possess? How does he relate to the humans? What circumstances make him empathetic toward the human characters?
How does the series use different genres to tell its story? What other series similarly blend different genres? What genres do you recognize in the series?
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