the early word

The CW’s ‘Aliens in America’: Season-Pass It!

Adhir Kalyan, Amy Pietz and Dan Byrd in Aliens in America.Courtesy of The CW

Vulture’s taking a look at some of the most prominent of the picked-up fall TV shows. Which are good? Which are horrible? And most important, which will be worth a precious DVR season pass?

Title: Aliens in America

Stars: Dan Byrd, Adhir Kalyan, Amy Pietz

Network: The CW, Mondays at 8:30

The pitch: Pakistani exchange student brightens the life of an outcast in a Wisconsin high school.

Pilot report: When unpopular 16-year-old Justin (Byrd) is named “eighth-most bangable girl” in his high school, his mother Franny (Pietz) takes things into her own hands, inviting an exchange student into the family. But her dreams of a cool, ready-made friend for her son are dealt a blow with the arrival of Pakistani Muslim student Raja (Kalyan), who despite his sweetness and enthusiasm is unlikely to help Justin become more popular in central Wisconsin. Franny tries to have Raja sent back, but the entire family warms to him, Justin in particular, and by the end of the pilot Raja is welcome to stay.

Representative dialogue: “I always felt like an outsider and a weirdo, and then here comes this kid from a village in Pakistan, and I’m not an outsider anymore. Just a weirdo.”

Breakout star: The producers are clearly grooming Lindsey Shaw, who plays Justin’s newly buxom sister, but we’re fond of Pietz as Justin’s mom, Franny, once a popular girl herself, whose desperate love for her loser son drives her to somewhat reprehensible behavior.

Worth a season pass? Yes. There’s a bit of a Freaks and Geeks vibe to Aliens in America — the show doesn’t skimp on details of how awful high school can be. We wish they’d cut down on the shots ogling the budding Shaw, though that’s surely the fault of pilot director Luke Greenfield (The Girl Next Door); we imagine future directors will remedy this. The show could do with a bit less clueless-Midwesterners humor, but a solid setup, good performances, and an off-kilter comedic voice can take a sitcom a long way.

The CW’s ‘Aliens in America’: Season-Pass It!