Every few years, we get a science fiction primetime comedy that does very well. Then the subgenre lies dormant until another person things it’s a brilliant idea and brings it back to life. Alf, Third Rock from the Sun, and Mork & Mindy are some recent examples. All of these have fairly similar premises. Inhuman beings with a sardonic wit exist among largely oblivious humans. Much of the humor in these shows comes from their odd behavior compared to the surrounding culture and their outsider critique of irrational human customs. Most of the time, the outside characters are aliens, but other mythical beings or even foreigners can fit the bill just as well. Small Wonder used a cyborg girl in this position while Perfect Strangers had Balki from the Hellenic island of Mypos.
People of Earth brings this popular idea back and is a novel take on the subgenre. The first difference from the norm is that they mix the types of paranormal beings that are represented. Drawing from popular ufology, the show displays the three most people types of beings in UFO abduction claims – Jeff is a grey, Don is a white, and Jonathan is a reptilian. The variation doesn’t stop at their appearance, though. Jeff and Jonathan are played like Alf in that they are quirky wisecracking beings who make the typical alien appear like some technologically advanced Joe Pesci or Wallace Shawn. Dawn is more like the cast of Third Rock from the Sun – not only does he look human, but he plays his role as nothing more than an extremely naïve human.
The humans serve as more than just foils to contrast with the aliens’ weirdness or frivolous and irrational stock characters used to build a satire. They have as much, if not more, time on screen than the aliens. The main story centers on a support group for people who were abducted by the extraterrestrials. They are all strange and all interesting. One is an elderly female sex addict, another is a wild-eyed devout conspiracy theorist, and a third is very acerbic and not intimidated at all by her abduction. This is the type of smorgasbord of characters that has made shows like Lost or American Family so popular.
The program enjoys wide support from the masses, even including the critics. Professionals give the supernatural comedy a 72 out of 100 on Metacritic and the exact same score on Rotten Tomatoes, with 91% of critics there determining that it is “fresh.” This should be no surprise at all. The main idea is so infrequent in television that it seems completely novel and the odd characters, both from the terrestrial and the extraterrestrial side, make for nary a dull moment. Even though the writing may not be the best, it is certainly entertaining enough.
As for audiences, they give it a similar level of approval as the critics. 84% of people rating it on Rotten Tomatoes like it and it gets a 4.2 out of 5 from them. Meanwhile, on IMBD it scores a 7.6 out of 10. Metacritic grants it a similarly good score at 8.0 out of 10. While the rank and file audiences aren’t so impressed by the novelty of the scenario as critics, they generally agree that she show is humorous enough and the setup is interesting. With the wild success of Ancient Aliens on the history channel, it’s a surprise the ufology community hasn’t gotten more TV shows catering to them.
TBS is usually known as the old sitcom channel, for a long time being the main TV home of Golden Girls or Married with Children. One can’t argue that the classics are still great, but they seem to be setting their sights on bigger things. This year, they started an aggressive original comedy series campaign. Compared to launchmates as The Detour, Search Party, and Wrecked, #PeopleEarth is moderately competitive, pulling in a little less than the average number of viewers with a little under a million views. Even so, it has better ratings than the other shows from people who’ve watched it. With such good potential it’s very possible that it will last even more seasons.
No matter what happens, we’ll be here reporting. Sign up for our E-mail notification list down below and we’ll send you a short message when #PE
Who is your favorite character on the show so far? Do you think father Doug will come out of the closet publicly? What do you think of the fictional representation of the aliens on the show? Give us your comments and opinions down below.