Review: Alien News Desk “Ungrateful Wads of Protein”

Who says journalism is dead?

Overview (Spoilers Below!)

Aboard the studio ship Integritus, alien Drexx Drudlar and “journaloid” Tuva Van Void are here to bring you all the latest news from the weirdest aliens out there—earthlings. Drexx doesn’t quite understand the assignment, and sampled a wide variety human flesh (instead of human culture) in preparation for this show. He had no choice but to take this assignment because he’s notoriously difficult to work with. A whole show about Earth exists in the first place because humans are about to set a record for fastest self-extinction of a species, meaning that Earth will soon be on the real estate market.

Drexx and Tuva mock the Oscars before segueing into the HGTV parody segment “Invade it or Avoid it,” in which they share a (mostly comically inaccurate) history of Earth and determine that invading the planet is indeed a good investment. They mock fracking and the British royal family before moving onto the segment “Eye on Education,” which explains the four-year Earth prisons known as “universities.” Afterwards, Drexx and Tuva cover topics like online universities, airplane travel, smoking, and clowns. Drexx mistakenly believes that Popeyes is a religious institution called “Pope Yes,” and Tuva corrects him. They report on horse racing and Las Vegas before signing off.

Our Take

Since this show is a faux-news report and there’s no narrative plot to speak of, how well the writers can carry it off wholly depends on how well these jokes land—and I’m pleased to say that they almost always do. I laughed at loud several times during this premiere, which isn’t something I’m prone to. Drexx and Tuva are sharp, observant, and intriguing, and I can’t wait for next week’s installment.

The first three jokes of the show start off with one bang after another—these three wry reinterpretations of reality disarmed me and made me smile as they set the stage for the series’ tone. Apparently, “more Americans are hiding their valuables in the body cavities of dead birds,” the Earth “has developed a taste for human architecture,” and Drexx doesn’t understand the difference between a male and female nip slip.

Often, like in the nip slip comment, Drexx and Tuva’s misunderstandings of humanity pave the way for sharp social commentary. Their confusion makes us question why, exactly, a female nip slip is considered more scandalous than a shirtless man. In a similar manner, Drexx and Tuva slam fracking, pointing out its devastating environmental effects without coming across as preachy. Their discussion of the “rapidly gentrifying Milky Way district” and humanity’s decision to make “their rainforest more open concept,” as well as their harsh criticism of the royal family’s unearned wealth, display a strong anti-capitalist, pro-environmental message.

Occasionally, the jokes fall back on alien clichés that land a bit flat due to their lack of creativity. Drexx delivering cooking tips for humans has been done to death in science-fiction, and his feeble protests that he does, in fact, get invited to brunches is a staple of subpar sitcoms. I’m also deeply tired of jokes where the whole punchline seems to be the fat people are grotesque—come on, Alien News Desk. You can do better.

But in other moments, even the characters’ word choices are hilarious. Tuva refers to Jupiter as “this thick gassy freak.” They consistently pronounce “USA” and “UK” phonetically rather than as abbreviations, referring to the nations as Oosa and Ook. I laughed particularly hard at Drexx’s horror about the evangelical chicken restaurant “Pope Yes” (made even funnier because that’s basically Chic-Fil-A).

Some other jokes that had me chuckling: Tuva refers to the TV show This is Us as “human tear induction therapy.” Drexx shows a few depictions of TV aliens and grumbles, “Humans apparently think we look like shit. More on that as it develops.” They interpret the question “Who are you wearing?” at the Oscars to mean the stars “murdered their compatriots and donned their hides.” Fireworks are “new aggression in the ongoing war against the sky,” fishing is “a hilarious switcheroo” in which “a fish is removed from water and placed on land.” Bills and coins act as Horcruxes for the royal family, and lighthouses are “king-sized navigational penises.”

Breaking headline: Alien News Desk is 22 minutes of good, silly fun.


Bodie Shanis

Bodie is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. You can often find him in odd costumes, either because he's at an anime convention or performing in a musical. He's currently working on his first novel.

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