Some of the things that made ABC’s new show V terrible can doubtless be attributed to the constraints of making a pilot: the rushed pace, the thin characterization, the complete lack of any visual design sense, perhaps even the terrible dialogue. But the main problem is the show’s politics, which are so stupid as to become offensive. The problem derives in part from the original miniseries, a well-meaning anti-fascist allegory (which opens with a scene of heroic Sandinistas), in which the fascists are reptilian aliens from outer space; the difficulty, of course, being that the idea of an insidious alien threat is itself an uncomfortably fascist one. Still, the original miniseries skirts over this problem, and focuses on collaborators with and resistors to this rising fascism.
The remake, on the other hand, takes this potentially fascist starting point and really fucking runs with it. The new aliens aren’t just lizards, they’re secret lizards who have infiltrated the government and the media, and now they are offering universal healthcare as an attempt to poison humanity’s precious bodily fluids. They are, in other words, an anti-semitic stereotype. Now, I’m not saying that ABC and the makers of V are actually anti-semites. Rather, by making vague and deeply stupid gestures towards contemporary politics (ooh, universal healthcare, how topical), the show accidentally exposes underlying anti-semitism in contemporary political discourse: it’s the teabaggers and birthers as sci-fi (and it’s surely no accident that the one significant black character in the pilot has a secret radical past, and the same beard as ex-Maoist Van Jones).