I’ve enjoyed SyFy’s weird-things-happening-in-the-world-we-think-we-know shows like Eureka and Warehouse 13, but I sort of thought TNT and Fox stole a bit of a match on the network with shows like Falling Skies and Terra Nova that were based further in the future and did more to posit alternative societies. So I’m excited to hear about Deliverance, SyFy’s upcoming program set in “a world where humans and aliens live together on a planet ravished by decades of war.” Apparently, it’s kind of a western, with a human sheriff and mayor trying to keep peace between the human and alien populations of the former St. Louis.
My boredom with alien invasion stories is well-documented, so this is a nice variation, and the first pop culture product of its ilk since District 9, really. Cowboys and Aliens foundered in part, I think, because it didn’t have a clear sense for who or what its alien invaders were meant to represent. An old-school Western with aliens standing in for George Hearst and his minions, a kind of sci-fi Deadwood would have been sort of amazing, but Cowboys and Aliens was not that thing. The fact that humans are in charge of governance in Deliverance suggests that humans are somewhat more powerful than aliens, but I do think you could do something interesting where aliens are the more powerful constituency without being tyrannical or enslaving humanity. And a situation where aliens and humans are close to parity or co-dependent could be a really useful tool for exploring our attitudes towards immigrants or to coalition-building across constituencies. Stories are better when they know what their metaphors are for specifically, rather than standing in for a Random Big Bad Thing.