All the drama of high school, plus space aliens!
Parents recommend

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The main characters are all privy to a huge secret -- that four of them are from another planet -- and must often lie to protect their knowledge. They're hunted by another group of aliens who are devious and violent in their efforts to find the visitors from space.


Some fighting and the occasional explosion, but no graphic violence.


Though there's no onscreen sex or nudity, a good chunk of the series centers on who's dating whom and how far they go.


Fairly mild: "Bitch," "damn," "hell," etc.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this teen drama centers on a group of high school students who are hiding a huge secret -- from their families, from teachers, from the world. Certainly the stakes are high; if word gets out that actual aliens are living among the unsuspecting residents of Roswell, there could be all kinds of trouble. Still, the series' entire premise supports the idea of teens hiding important things from their parents. The characters also deal with the usual batch of angsty high school issues related to friendship and dating.

What's the story?

Navigating the social minefield of high school is hard enough for regular people, so imagine the challenges faced by a quartet of extraterrestrials trying to pass as ordinary students in a small New Mexico town. Of course, these four are anything but average -- not only do they possess superhuman abilities, but they're considered royalty on their home planet and are expected to save their people from a terrible calamity. That's the basic premise of ROSWELL, an intriguing teen sci-fi drama that sometimes feels like a cross between The X-Files and Beverly Hills, 90210.

Is it any good?


Max Evans (Jason Behr), his sister Isabel (Katherine Heigl), and their friends Michael Guerin (Brendan Fehr) and Tess Harding (Emilie de Ravin) could probably have stayed comfortably under the radar if not for a freak accident that left fellow student Liz Parker (Shiri Appleby) mortally wounded, prompting Max to reveal his powers and save her life. The incident proves a powerful bonding experience between Max and Liz, who -- along with a few close friends -- promises to keep the foursome's secret. But as Max and Liz are falling in love, he learns that he's destined to be with Tess, and much of the show centers on the conflict between Max's desire to be with his human girlfriend and his sense of duty, which requires him to give her up.

The four aliens are being hunted by another group of extraterrestrials living incognito on Earth, the Skins, and many of the episodes center on this conflict. With its battling aliens and superpowers, Roswell is clearly sci-fi, but below the surface lies a more fundamental issue -- who will end up together in the end? -- that makes the show similar to any other teen drama.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about fate and free will. One of the main characters is an alien prince who has fallen in love with a human, but he's repeatedly told that it's his destiny to marry one of the other extraterrestrials. Should he follow his heart? Should he sacrifice what may be the great love of his life to save his people? And how can he even be certain that the future of his planet will be affected by his choice? How do the issues the alien characters deal with reflect real-life teen concerns? Are the characters' lives at all realistic?

TV details

Cast:Jason Behr, Katherine Heigl, Shiri Appleby
Networks:Syfy, Syndicated
Genre:Science Fiction
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Roswell was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Cult vampire series has witty bite and strong role model.
  • Three witchy women flirt and fight evil; teens OK.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 11 year old Written byjemismom August 1, 2013

Not really a zero on the sex rating

I think the sex rating is a bit off. 0 stars made me think it was okay for my 11yo to watch, but we are only on episode 5 and so far two main characters were rolling on the bed in one scene, very passionate kissing in another, with the male characters hands sliding under / up the female characters shirt.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Parent Written bymyab January 21, 2015

Good Story With Plenty of Sexual Themes (But Not Gratuitous)

I watched this when it originally aired, and have been watching again on Netflix. This is definitely worth watching for the appropriate age group. Be aware, there are sexual themes throughout the series (heavy necking, lots of leg, back, arm groping, discussions about sex, and eventually sex itself) though it tends to fade to black when it becomes very intense. However, the sexual themes are relevant to the story lines that are being presented, even if you aren't aware of it at the time. That's all I can explain without giving out spoilers. Other themes are: Constant mortal danger of our heroes and heroines, though it creates strong bonds between them. There are several deaths of both good and bad humans and aliens, as well as the death of a main character which was completely unexpected. However, just as with most themes of this show, it was extremely relevant to the progression of the story. The aliens are very much like humans, with some bad and some good, so it isn't just a typical "humans are evil and want to wipe out something they don't understand". There are also strong families represented, with both typical 2 parent households as well as single parent homes. The themes of adoption (in the good sense), abusive parenting (by a foster parent), and the struggles of parents and teens trying to understand each other are also woven throughout. Overall, this is a good show. It was so popular in it's original run that when it's premature cancellation was announced, viewers began a "Tabasco Sauce" campaign (once you watch you'll understand) which gave it an extra season and a good wrap up. It's a soap opera-esque, sci-fi, teen angst world filled with both beautiful and plain people (which I found refreshing). With themes that become darker as the show progresses, plus the sexual content, I wouldn't recommend it for anyone under 16, unless they are a very mature 15.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Teen, 14 years old Written bypopcorn1 July 13, 2010

not of interest to younger children.

though slightly cheesy this show is really good. It isn't persay inappropriate there is little kissing, It just wouldn't be a show that would be of interest to anyone under 13. there is little violence, some swearing and noticable Yahoo! product placement on lockers.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide