Roswell is a character-driven show that is not afraid to get emotional
When physical copies of your favorite guilty pleasure shows start to skip because of scratches from the many times you’ve watched it, it is nice when the campus library has it on hand. Roswell (1999) is my choice when it comes to needing a study break or even while I am studying since I can likely recite every episode.
Roswell revolves around a circle of friends from Roswell, New Mexico who become close friends with aliens who hatched from pods after the Roswell crash in 1947. The catalyst happens in the first episode in the first season is when a gun goes off and the bullet goes through Liz (Shiri Appleby), but Max (Jason Behr) heals her and swears her to secrecy.
What I love is each of the characters has their own personalities and adds to comedic relief. Max, for instance, while he has gentle qualities can sometimes frustrate his brother Michael (Brendan Fehr), who has more of a rebellious spirit. His bad-boy attitude attracts Maria (Majandra Delfino), full of compassion and ditzy, who was raised by a single mom who is a hippie. Max and Liz are also parallels for each other since Liz is a responsible student absorbed in biology and Max is a king from the other world he comes from. Meanwhile Isabel (Katherine Heigl), while beautiful, attracts Alex Whitman (Colin Hanks) who is a sweet but awkward and clumsy in most social interactions.
Not only is it just about the characters but as abstract as sometimes the episodes are, the solitude that is explored as each of the characters figure out who they are. Max, Michael, and Isabel’s goal is to find a way home to their planet but they learn to be human through the other characters. None of them desire to let any of the humans in as far as romantic relationships but in the end, together, both the humans and aliens realize that their flaws are what make each other complete in the strange way.
Overall in reality, the plot is highly underdeveloped and by the third season, any possibility of it resurrecting crashed and burned. It started back midway through the first season when the new guidance counselor, Kathleen Topolsky (Julie Benz), arrives to Roswell High School only for the friends to discover that she is an undercover FBI agent. While the FBI become involved with the human aliens throughout the show, it never is quite clear what the interest is, aside from that they are aliens.
It turns out that Topolsky is on the friends’ side, but no reason for that is ever revealed and she disappears into another plot hole that Roswell never unfolds. Later when Max sends Tess (Emilie de Ravin), the fourth missing alien the friend group discovers, home alone and pregnant with their son, Roswell should have escalated. Instead the plot sizzles and the sparks die by the final season when Max goes on a mission to seek his son out. It becomes more of a complicated romance puzzle among the friends and their significant others that goes nowhere or that takes on more of a drama rather than the science fiction potential it had in the first couple of seasons.
I can say my love of Roswell stems from its ability to reach into the depths of human emotion and be honest about it. And despite that there are still similarities with more popular science fiction movies like common suspicion of hostile aliens, Roswell sheds new light on how it presents aliens. It was the first show I saw that made aliens more human, especially in a coming-of-age context as well.