This week I watched the Pilot episode of Aliens in America (David Guarascio & Moses Port 2007-2008). Aliens in America is a thirty minute comedy about an American family who joins the student exchange program and, much to their surprise, get a sixteen year old Pakistani Muslim called Raja. The show deals with difference in a comedic way, rejecting ideas that all Muslims are terrorists or that all Muslims are responsible for 9/11. Through exaggerated ignorance and irrationalism, these prejudices appear ridiculous as do the people that hold them, including students, teachers and, for a time, the family that Raja lives with. Amir Hussain writes that Aliens in America is one of “the few shows to present some of the ordinariness of North American Muslim life” (np). From what I saw of the pilot, Raja is neither presented negatively or overly, positive, rather he is presented as a normal everyday outsider in an American school. This is enforced further through his relationship with the main protagonist and narrator, Justin.
The Show is not seen through Raja’s eyes, but through the eyes of Justin the sixteen year old son of the family. Justin has been an outsider his whole life but has now made a friend of Raja. The show draws parallels between the two as outsiders, showing that difference is not just about race or religion and people can relate to each other regardless of their background.
Aliens in America has some touching moments, and clear messages regarding prejudice, racism and difference, often using parody to get these points across.
Aliens in America. Dir. Guarascio, David & Moses Port. CW, 2007-2008.
Aliens in America. TV.com. 18 May 2008. 27 August 2009.<http://www.tv.com/aliens-in-america/show/68743/summary.html>.
Hussain, Amir. Aliens in America. Religion Dispatches. 20 February 2008. 27 August 2009. <http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/mediaculture/85/aliens_in_america>