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The CW's Aliens in America

Justin Tolchuk is a sensitive, lanky 16-year-old just trying to make it through the social nightmare of high school in Medora, Wisconsin, with the help of his well-meaning mom Franny, aspiring-entrepreneur dad Gary, and his popular sister Claire, who is sweetly unaware of how good-looking she is. When Franny signs up for the school's international exchange student program, she pictures an athletic, brilliant Nordic teen who will bestow instant coolness on her outsider son. However, when the Tolchuk's exchange student arrives, he turns out to be Raja Musharaff, a 16-year-old Pakistani Muslim. Despite the cultural chasm between them, Justin and Raja quickly develop an unlikely friendship that just might allow them to navigate the minefield that is contemporary high school. It's going to be a very interesting year for Raja, Justin, his family and the entire population of Medora.

Just finished the pilot to "Aliens in America", CW's new teen-comedy. The story centers around a tortured teen and the new exchange student that comes to live with them. The show is really very good and I am extremely impressed. Every character in the show is rich and engaging, all have a deep well of comic resources for the writers to deliver with. The money-hungry Dad actually has a pack of llamas in his back yard he is breeding for money. The shallow sister contemplates how making the Senior Guys "Top 10 Most Bangable List" will effect her social calendar. A list, by the way, the central character Justin came in at Number 8, adding to his tortured high school experience. The exchange student, Raja, is the classic fish-out of water gag, and it works in all the right ways. He sits in stunned silence as he listens to a narrow minded teacher lead an open discussion in class about how angry they are that he helped bring down the Twin Towers, to which his protest falls on deaf, ignorant ears. The over-bearing mother sees Justin praying with Raja towards Mecca and quickly tells Justin to get in the car because his grandmother is dying, which of course turns out to be a lie because she fears her son will become a Muslim. All of this ignorance and intolerance is light-hearted and actually very funny, because its clear in the end that the characters will learn from their mistakes and gain a broader perspective of the world, which of course they do.

Bottom line: Great show, I loved it for a great many reasons. I enjoy subtle, intelligent humor that doesn't require a laugh track to remind me to laugh. If something is funny, I'm smart enough to know it without the aide of canned laughs, and I appreciate a show that much more for it. This show is a real treat and will be a welcome addition to my season-pass.

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