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5 Shows like Roswell: Teenie Bopper Sci-Fi

James Thomas itcherEvery genre on television seems to be getting the young adult fiction treatment. But what if I told you this was a trend that started well before the “Twilight” series and that these shows were good? Today we can see that TV shows like ‘Roswell’ are going strong. If you enjoy interesting genre shows check out ‘X-Files,” ‘Kyle XY’, and ‘Buffy: The Vampire Slayer.’ ~ James Thomas

Welcome to Roswell

‘Roswell’ is a show that brings groups that don’t typically overlap (the UFO conspiracy crowd and the folks who love young adult fiction) together successfully.

The premise of the show revolves around three absurdly attractive teen aliens and a human heroine all residing in Roswell, New Mexico, a town that might as well be an intergalactic truck stop.

Roswell has a reputation for being the town near a UFO crash landing that happened back in 1947, creating a booming tourist industry for the little burg and the perfect spot for a group of aliens to hide in plain sight and breed tons hybrid human/alien children.

The drama of the show comes from the need to protect the secret of ‘Roswell’, as well as the main characters keeping their hormones in check as they tumble from one love triangle to another.


Shows Similar to ‘Roswell’…

‘Kyle XY’ (ABC Family, 2006-2009)

You could call ‘Kyle XY’ the young adult version of ‘E.T.’.

It shares its DNA with series similar to ‘Roswell’ as its cast is made up of people who seem to have just seen the northern end of puberty, but this show has some interesting twists and turns.

The main character, Kyle, is found naked in the forest like a fraternity pledge by a kind family who is so positive they don’t question the fact that the boy lacks a belly button.

Kyle is blank slate mentally, and most of the show tension revolves around either the family attempting to pass him off as a distant relative, their efforts to avoid shadowy figures hunting him down, or Kyle displaying strange abilities.

Similarity Match: 95%
Like ‘Roswell’, ‘Kyle XY’ blends the world of young adult angst with a science fiction narrative in clever and slightly family friendly ways. However, Kyle’s origins are much closer to home than those of the aliens of ‘Roswell’.

‘X-Files’ (Fox, 1993-2002, 2016)

TV shows like to ‘Roswell’ owe the ‘X-Files’ for proving that a show based on alien encounters could make it on modern television.

The story centers on a paranoid FBI detective, with arguably the coolest name for a nerd in a suit, Fox Mulder.

Mulder is an avowed conspiracy theorist who is a poster boy for the quote “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”

He is a firm believer in many mundane theories about how the FBI is undermining society with lies, using fluoridation of the water as a control mechanism, and even the concept of chem-trails. But his passions lie in UFOs and alien encounters.

He happens to be right about that last one.

With the help of the brilliant and skeptical FBI agent and doctor Dana Scully, who he drags along to every sighting he thinks might be worth their time, Mulder travels to places like Roswell, Antarctica, and Area 51, engaging in a crusade to expose the alien conspiracy.

Similarity Match: 90%
The ‘X-Files’ deals with themes of extra-terrestrial beings coming to our planet in the same way as ‘Roswell’. But, in the ‘X-Files’ very few of the aliens have anything other than sinister plans for the human species, and there is a shadow government assisting the aliens in their plots.

‘Buffy: The Vampire Slayer’ (The WB-UPN, 1997-2003)

Most of the young adult shows can’t even begin to pay back what they owe ‘Buffy’. Shows like ‘Roswell’ would likely not have been half as popular as they were if it wasn’t for the plucky vampire-bane cheerleader and her backup dancers.

‘Buffy: the Vampire Slayer’ is about a peppy girl who is chosen by the powers that be to stop the vampire scourge.

The character is brash, smart, and funny. Thanks to the writing of Joss Whedon the stories are smart compelling and have female characters who know how to through punch and not get kidnapped.

Similarity Match: 80%
‘Buffy: The Vampire Slayers’ has a horror fantasy narrative that is pretty far removed from the more science fiction based story of ‘Roswell’ and the main female character has much more agency. But, as in ‘Roswell’, the world of the weird and the world of the young adult blend seamlessly.


If You Like ‘Roswell’, You Will Like…

‘Roswell’ takes characters that have to deal with relatable struggles and drops them into the weird and wonderful world of science fiction.

The next two shows are either more mature in terms of their target audience or deal with a whole different side of science fiction.

‘Angel’ (The WB, 1999-2004)

A spinoff from ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, ‘Angel’ hits some of the same beats as ‘Roswell’ in terms of romantic and interpersonal themes in a deep genre narrative.

It is a show set in Los Angeles, for reasons of puns and overbearing irony, and also because at the time that was where every young person thought they would go to make themselves famous.

The main character was Buffy’s ex who happened to be a vampire, proof that the heart wants what it wants, even when you should be driving a stake through it.

Angel is a tall, handsome, brooding vampire with a soul, which is probably why fans of shows like ‘Roswell’ responded to him when the shows fell into syndication on a neighboring network.

Similarly to ‘Roswell’, ‘Angel’ brings conflicted romance into a fantastic setting however the focus is more on horror, and it plays to an older crowd.

‘Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles’ (Fox, 2008-2009)

This series was a serious departure from the source material and ultimately a very different show.

Its narrative is propelled by youthful angst and testosterone similar to ‘Roswell’.

The story centers on a young John Connor but not the young John Connor from ‘Terminator 2 Judgment Day’.

John is in his late teens and on the run with his mother after dropping the friendly T-800 and the hardcore T-1000 into a molten metal hot tub.

The mother and son believe that the end of the world has been thwarted, but they discover their error when a new Terminator appears in the form of an attractive 20 something informing them that judgment day is still coming.

While it doesn’t deal with love triangles or aliens in the way that shows like ‘Roswell’ do, ‘Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles’ does feature a young protagonist coming of age in impossible science fiction themed circumstances.


Growing up Sci-Fi

Combining young adult angst with genre fiction in TV series like ‘Roswell’ has become its own genre.

How do you think this trend will change with the popularity of movies like ‘Maze Runner’?

Let us know in the comments down below.

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