TBS’ People of Earth is set to wrap up its first season on Monday. What initially seemed quirky has quickly grown into a solid show that deftly mixes comedy with a surprising number of heavy topics. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should put it high on your list. After all, life can be tough regardless if you’re human or an alien.
The initial premises showcased a reporter, Ozzie Graham, (Wyatt Cynac) traveling to Beacon, N.Y. to interview an alien support group. The first bits of comedy plays up the “wackiness” of their beliefs. The show quickly turns the premise on its head, however. Throughout the first episode, we see Ozzie suffer from headaches and hallucinations. Very quickly he comes to the realization that while he was in Beacon, he too was abducted. From there, he makes the decision to move to Beacon and investigate not only what happened to him but “why” as well.
From there the show takes off. The tone and style of the show remind me currently of NBC’s The Good Place (another REALLY good show to check out). Both shows have very high-concept premises, but the real comedy and heart come through in the relationships between the characters. Similar to The Good Place, People of Earth has also been slowly developing ongoing plotlines and character arcs that provide a good forward momentum to the series.
“You Are Special”
As People of Earth has gone on, we start to see into the lives of the other abductees (or “experiencers”). We see their lives both before and after their abduction and see how their abduction changed them. For some, it was a traumatic experience; but for others, it gave them purpose. If it all sounds heavy, it kind of is! The show deals with depression, identity crisis, relationships, faith, and trauma. You know, the usual lighthearted material in a half-hour show.
As I mentioned, this is a comedy first and foremost. The series walks a fine line between mining comedy from their experiences and respecting its characters and what they’re going through. One of the recent episodes had the group bring family members in and have a “coming out day”, where they tell their family what happened to them. The whole scene quickly becomes cringe-worthy comedy that has you laughing while simultaneously planning how to get them out of there and buy them a beer because holy crap this got awkward quick.
Work Sucks Wherever You Go
Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention: the aliens are real. Yes, there is an invasion plot of Earth. There’s also a massive conspiracy of lizard people in positions of power. But that doesn’t mean that they enjoy their day-to-day of abductions, memory wipes, etc. They treat it the same as we do with spreadsheets and TPS reports. They bicker and banter, and complain about their bosses. The main alien group overseeing Beacon quickly gets pulled into the main plot, however, when one of them is abruptly killed by one of the support group members. FYI, this is why you don’t text and drive, kids.
From there, equal time is devoted to the aliens overseeing Beacon. Jeff and Don handle Beacon’s monitoring and abductions and report to their point-person on earth, Jonathan. Through them, we see Jeff dealing with grief and anger over the senseless death of their friend (while constantly being snippy over having to do all the work on the ship). Don meanwhile takes this opportunity to go and mingle among humans, even getting a job at the local coffee shop where he starts to woo one of the abductees that he previously connected with.
Jonathan, meanwhile, is put through the paces from all sides. He has to pass as a multi-billionaire media magnate in order to stay close to Ozzie as his former boss. Simultaneously, he’s also middle-managing his two remaining “employees” who don’t like him very much. It’s from the aliens’ perspective that we see the ongoing threat of invasion. As the story has progressed, we also see that some of them have more of a stake in keeping the humans of Beacon safe.
“Defined By Who You Are, Not What You Are”
People of Earth is a quirky show, but it’s also one with a surprising amount of depth and sweetness. Everyone involved is bringing their A-game to characters that are in over their heads but muddling through with each other’s support. That quote above is the major theme that develops throughout the show, for both the humans and the aliens. Their lives have been shaken up and everyone is trying to figure out their next steps. Everyone involved is seeking some form of closure or the truth. We’ll see how it progresses in the season-finale because sometimes one doesn’t lead to the other.
People of Earth can currently be found On Demand, and streaming on TBS.com. The first season wraps up in a two-episode finale on December 20th, and it was just renewed for a second season.