Its departure after 18 episodes got nary an extended thought in the press, because it didn't quite muster the iconic cult status of high school dramas "Freaks & Geeks" or "My So-Called Life," but let me be at least one person to tell the folks behind the CW's "Aliens in America" that they deserved better.
As a 30-minute program, "Aliens" mined for comedy more often than the aforementioned shows — and usually succeeded, cleverly (though not gratuitously) playing on the mix of "Fargo"-like Americans and Pakistani exchange student Raja (Adhir Kalyan). An early gem involved the suspicions Raja aroused as a Muslim trying to purchase rocket materials after he innocently joined the school's model rocket club. Later, Justin's appearance in a community production of "Rent" opposite his mother (Amy Pietz) evoked the greatness of the Motherboy episode of "Arrested Development."
But 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. Hopefully, someone will preserve it on DVD someday so that it isn't lost forever.
— Jon Weisman