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V-The TV Series

Political Parable or Lizard-Spotting Drinking Game?

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A massive new world order arrives with good looks and smiles, claiming to cure diseases while providing free health care to everyone. Small sacrifices are required in exchange for the service--minor inconveniences such as enduring 29 city-sized spaceships hovering above humanity and spying on everybody. The magic medical providers are actually reptilian murderers from outer space tricking us into voluntarily enslaving ourselves by accepting the claims that their interstellar road to Earth was paved with charitable intentions.

That's the premise of ABC's V, which has returned for a second season. It's quite an allegorical stretch, of course, to think that sort of thing could ever happen in our world. Governments never hurt anybody, and besides, what harm could come from an inescapable program that makes anything anybody does or eats the business of everyone else? Plus, outer space alien lizards have been extinct for years.

Compared to most science fiction, the scary-government symbolism in V is subtle--and, even if you're the kind of person who attributes noble motives to state-sponsored doctor visits, the show is worth watching. If nothing else, it's fun to guess who has secret lizard skin.

V's creators have denied the obvious political parallels--despite dialogue that includes "hope," "change" and "universal health care"--but authorial intention is irrelevant to interpretation. If the show isn't at least partially a commentary on the dangers of surrendering to the "help" of an authoritarian government disguised by fake compassion, what is it about? Fancy spaceships and sharp-fanged lizard/people babies? If so, it's probably still worth watching until it inevitably jumps the shark or nukes the fridge or switches Darrins or hires Hayden Christensen or whatever pop-cultural metaphor fits.

The new season has already begun but, assuming you don't mind Internet commercials for other Internet commercials, you can catch up at hulu.com.

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