“September 23rd. Journal entry one. I’m Liz Parker and five days ago I died. After that, things got really weird…”
Roswell is a city in New Mexico, USA. It’s a center of UFO conspiracy: it’s where in 1947, the US government collected and hid the remains of a crashed UFO and its passengers, fiercely combating all reports to the contrary. Either that, or it simply reported on a weather balloon crashing. The truth is out there.
Tripadvisor says that there’s more to Roswell than mystery and innuendo, but who needs more than that? It clearly looks like the best place ever. Mystery and innuendo also create a picture perfect backdrop for a teen drama.
Press play on season one, episode one of Roswell, the television series that began in 1999 and lasted for three seasons, and be completely sucked in. Feel all the feels.
It begins with Liz Parker. She’s probably about 15 or 16. Played by Shiri Appleby, Liz goes to school and works with her best friend, Maria, in a diner that her family owns called The Crashdown Cafe. Maria wants to be a rock and roller, and Liz wants to be a famous scientist.
One day, while waiting tables, a gun gets fired by a customer and Liz gets accidentally shot. She’s down for the count, until a schoolmate waves his hand over her chest and uses his regenerative powers to heal her, leaving her with just a glowing handprint. The schoolmate is Max Evans, and he, his sister Isabel and his friend Michael are all human-alien hybrids.
This would be a spoiler if it didn’t all happen in the first five minutes of the show. This is more drama than some shows manage to pack into an entire season.
One episode of Roswell is enough to let you know if you’ll be hooked, and, if you do get hooked, it’ll get you good.
If you do get hooked, you get a little bit of rom-com with your sci-fi and your escapism. Roswell has it all.
There are the characters:
Maria: Liz’s fiery best friend.
Kyle: Liz’s quarterback boyfriend.
Sheriff Valenti: Kyle’s dad and a hard-nosed cop who is hot on the trail of the truth, and regards Max Evans as being very suspicious.
Isabel: Max’s beautiful and standoffish sister.
Michael: Max’s hot-headed, impulsive best friend from the wrong side of the tracks.
Alex: Liz and Maria’s nerdy best friend.
There is the setting:
The retro diner where staff wear alien antennae on their heads.
The school football team called The Comets.
The town festival that recreates the UFO crash and leaves the Evans’ and Michael pretty bummed.
The dedicated UFO enthusiasts who mill about in the background, trying to break the case wide open.
There’s the storyline:
It’s basically Romeo and Juliet, with aliens. Or Dawson’s Creek, with aliens. The will they, won’t they nature of Liz and Max’s relationship speaks to that part of us all that fights against doing the things we most want to, and wanting to surrender to it.
Then there is the soundtrack:
It’s so gloriously nineties, with Dido and Coldplay featuring.
The charm of a tv show like Roswell is that it holds up, so well, to the binge-viewing nature of our time. Back in 1999, Netflix wasn’t a thing, you had to be home at the right time to catch a tv show unless you taped it, you definitely had to wait a week to see the next instalment, and intelligent discussion on internet forums grappled with the question, “Will DVD get so popular that it replaces the VHS?”
— Shiri Appleby (@ShiriAppleby) May 28, 2016
Now, trying to find a show you love enough to commit to an entire season of can be tedious. Once you’ve caught up on your favourites – where else can you go? To the past. Going backward can unearth some genuine gems. Art doesn’t have a use-by date. It just doesn’t.
Roswell speaks to the parts of us that distrust authority, and the parts of us that dream of something more. It lets us live vicariously through a girl who finds her great love is an alien and isn’t even sure if she gets to be with him.
We’re only getting closer to trying for life in outer space, too. There are already people who are on the shortlist to be the first to go. It’s kind of nice to think that space is pre-populated with dreamy kids who are just like us.
Roswell has all of the joy, the heartache, and the heartbreak of real life. With aliens thrown in. And you’ll be able to tell if you’re gonna like it by just watching the first episode.
Give it a shot, if you’d like. It’s no longer available on Australian Netflix so you’ll have to do something tricky to watch it, but it’ll be worth it. Or download it from iTunes. It’ll at least fill the time until The Walking Dead comes back.
“I’m Liz Parker and five days ago I died. But then the really amazing thing happened. I came to life.”