The “Roswell” Retrospective

 “Roswell: New Mexico” certainly took off after my previous review comparing the reboot to its predecessor, and I couldn’t be more delighted with the outcome of the season as a whole. This show has been a rollercoaster of emotions, plot points and excitement, and I’ve fully fallen in love with the characters. Michael, played by Michael Vlamis, barely left an impression on me in episode one, but became the love of my life and absolute favorite character on the show. He’s sensitive but with a tough shell to crack, cares deeply for his friends and just wants to be loved and belong. The character is also incredibly attractive and bisexual and a space cowboy and everything I’ve wanted to see on television in a long time. 

Then again, I could write a whole different article praising Vlamis, but this one has to do with the show as a whole. I loved the original so much, and it was me and my mom’s guilty pleasure. I was worried this new series wouldn’t live up to my expectations, or it wouldn’t try hard enough to differentiate itself from the cult classic ‘90s show and pale in comparison. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

While watching “Roswell: New Mexico,” I rarely thought back to the original in each episode. At first, I was guilty of comparing the characters to their former counterparts, but creator Carina Adly MacKenzie swiftly adjusted them to become all their own people. The first seven episodes of the series feel very exposition heavy in the best way possible, because they were preparing us to let go of our preconceived notions of the previous series. We had to let go of the original Liz Parker and Max Evans in order to embrace the new romance and relationship between Jeanine Mason’s Liz Ortecho and Nathan Parson’s Max Evans. We needed to accept Michael and Alex could be romantically involved, as well as Michael and Maria. Comparing the new series to the old one can only get us so far in enjoying and understanding “Roswell: New Mexico” as it is. 

One of my favorite things about the new series is the love triangle between Michael, Alex and Maria. Twitter stans Malex, but my heart can’t help but desire the original powerhouse relationship that we saw between Michael and Maria. Luckily, Mackenzie knew how much I wanted both relationships so we get both in this season, and my bisexual heart can’t help but soar. Accurate portrayals of bi and pan characters are still a rarity, and when we do see them it’s not usually in a realistic or truthful way. It’s important that we see them as regular people rather than overtly sexualized unicorns, which I commend the series for. For me, the LGBTQ+ representation on the show makes me very happy, especially because these characters are full people who embrace themselves, and their whole being is not dependent on just their sexuality. Michael is an alien, a friend, a lover, a badass and bisexual wrapped up into a complex character. 

Something else that worried me about the new series was that this story takes place 10 years in the future, with Liz returning to Roswell after being gone due to her career. I feared that despite being adults they would still act like children. At times, their lack of communication does feel very teenage, but nine out of 10 times they act their age. The delightful high school chemistry between Liz and Max is mature and developed since they are now adults and this solidifies their dynamic, while still echoing that original chemistry. The CW is famous for their extremely teenage plotlines with shows like “Vampire Diaries” or “Riverdale,” and while “Roswell: New Mexico” feels very much at home on the network, its edge comes from this level of maturity not seen in their other shows. This slight adjustment from the original “Roswell” also helps keep it fresh for a new audience. 

I deeply enjoy the political commentary that arises from this show as well. The writers do not steer away from being upfront about their opinions on our current political climate, and it adds an interesting layer to the show. The strong messaging against xenophobia and racism permeates every episode in a way that forces audiences to think about the volatile political landscape we encounter in the news everyday, and the creators take their proximity to the border in New Mexico very seriously. Sometimes, it gets a little too upfront like in the last episode which I won’t spoil, but I’ll just say that their stance on gun control is clearer than the plot of that episode. The show feels more real with the characters confronting the issues of today, and with the biases made apparent I feel even more comfortable with the agenda behind those messages. 

On that note, however, I also enjoy how the writers and actors challenge gender stereotypes and behaviors. Liz and the other strong female characters on the show never need a man to save them, and they often save the day themselves. The characters work together to achieve their goals, and their gender doesn’t affect their abilities to help one another. The showrunners focus on the strengths and weakness of them as people, not as women or men. Liz is incredibly intelligent just like she was in the original, but with more backbone and flare reminiscent of Elena from “Vampire Diaries,” yet with a taste of the original Liz Parker. The men in the show aren’t afraid to need help, cry or express their emotions healthily, which is a breath of fresh air compared to other intensely masculine characters on television like Klaus Mikealson from the CW’s “Originals.” This slight switch makes the show even sweeter. 

To pick on a few things I want improved in next season, since the show has officially been picked up for a season two, I want a strengthening of the plot to make it more cohesive. With only 13 episodes, there was a struggle for an ebb and flow of exposition and plot, so a lot of it felt crammed into certain episodes, such as episodes nine and 11, and it made for easy confusion as to what was happening. The last episode is full of power and vigor, but imperative plot points are placed very oddly at the end of the season and leaves us wondering how so much came together so quickly. The “boss battle” falls a little short in this episode as well and is disappointingly anti-climactic. I also don’t like how Maria has been left in the dark about aliens the entire season when she could be a valuable asset to the team. 

As the website Den of Geek puts it, “[‘Roswell: New Mexico’ is a] well-conceived nighttime soap that’s full of equal parts nostalgia and contemporary social sensibilities.” To give out one tiny spoiler because I waited all season to hear it, the final episode ends with the theme song to the original series, “Here With Me.” Dido championed the original song and it was a staple of “Roswell,” and the new series found a great new version of it by Daniel Blake that fits its aesthetic perfectly. This show has quickly become a new favorite of mine. I am crazy excited for season two of “Roswell: New Mexico,” and I hope a lot more alien cowboy goodness comes running over, full speed ahead.

Madalyn Alfonso
About Madalyn Alfonso 85 Articles
Madalyn Alfonso is a fourth-year English major with a minor in Theatre. This is her sixth semester on The Oracle. Previously, she was the Arts & Entertainment Editor. She loves writing any and every thing she can for the Oracle, whether it be a hilarious Top Ten or a thought-provoking Culture Critique. She hopes you all love reading the Oracle!