Season two of People of Earth premiered on Monday, and the reception was…what’s the opposite of resounding? Quiet and dull? Hollow? Muted? Well, pick any of those. It’s a show nobody’s talking about, but they should be.
The pedigree is impressive. Greg Daniels and Conan O’Brien have both put their stamp on it as executive producers. Don’t look for the bite and edge you might find in Daniels’ other shows, like The Office or the venerable Parks and Recreation. What you will find, though, is the cuteness of those two series. The universe of this show is chockablock with a real parade of weirdos, and proud of it. You can expect to see this new softer approach to supernatural conspiracy TV again in the upcoming Ghosted, too. It’d be a mistake to glance over these shows because of their lighter tone, which seems to be exactly what’s happened with People of Eearth.
We’ve grown too accustomed to a dark, “This goes all the way to the top!”, running through dark woods and skulking in shadows approach to alien abduction and conspiracies. The gold standard of The X-Files basically made it a requirement for any shows that followed. While that is easily one of the greatest shows of the last twenty years, that doesn’t mean it has to be imitated forever. Lighter and funnier works, too.
Do yourself a favor and start with People of Earth’s pilot. You’ll have no trouble catching up fast because the way the story unfolds is contagious. The jokes are strong but not mean. This show is the television equivalent of the Nice Guy: I have no idea why it’s not getting the play it should and that’s a shame. It celebrates these self-labeled weirdos and peppers in just enough twists and turns to keep you watching. Give “sweet and happy” a chance when it comes to conspiracy television. Sometimes, alien abduction is downright adorable and it’s your loss if you’re missing it.