Don't miss Regina Nigro's new review, on our online Culture page, of the new sci-fi series "V," in which she praises the show's appeal, but also dissects its hidden xenophobia. The show's theme--aliens "cultivate" relationships with humans on earth--proves to be morally problematic.
“V” is one of the most engaging, tightly structured, well-paced miniseries that has aired in recent memory. No moment of screentime is wasted; every scene is designed to either reveal a character detail or advance the narrative. All the characters have understandable and explicable motivations. But while this incarnation of "V" is an intriguing reimagination, there is one issue that rankles. The writers' cleverness at reinventing the alien sect as a terrorist cell, with earth as its battleground and humans its quarry, is marred by that conceit's troubling lack of self-consciousness. The Visitors have no political context or history. They are terrorists who are "alien" and "foreign": worse still, they are literally non-human, reptilian.
It is disconcerting to imagine the American viewing public watching “V” and reflexively linking aliens with terrorists and reptiles—beings who also, as other critics have noted, apparently support universal health care. Surprisingly, “V”'s most worrying political underpinnings is that it has no political underpinnings. “V” is inevitably operating at cross purposes, drawing on a political trope widely familiar to the American viewing public--terrorism--that is steeped in political events while adopting an unnuanced apolitical stance toward these alien terrorists.