While 2022 is about as stacked as it gets when it comes to upcoming sci-fi and fantasy shows, one that we aren’t going to see is Noah Hawley’s small screen Alien series. The news broke last year that the Fargo showrunner was going to be developing a new story in the Alien universe. It’s been confirmed that the show will be set on Earth — a first for the mainline Alien series, where the question of “what would happen if these killing machines ever made it back to our homeworld” was always looming in the background. We also know it won’t include Sigourney Weaver’s character Ellen Ripley. “She’s one of the great characters of all time, and I think the story has been told pretty perfectly, and I don’t want to mess with it,” the director said.
Beyond that, details have been sparse. But in an interview with Esquire to promote his new novel Anthem, Hawley dropped some updates and outlined some of the show’s big themes.
Alien TV series could air in 2023
“It’s going great. It’s going slowly, unfortunately, given the scale of it,” Hawley said of the Alien show. “I’ve made a certain business out of reinvention. Alien is a fascinating story because it’s not just a monster movie; it’s about how we’re trapped between the primordial past and the artificial intelligence of our future, where both [are] trying to kill us. It’s set on Earth of the future. At this moment, I describe that as Edison versus Westinghouse versus Tesla. Someone’s going to monopolize electricity. We just don’t know which one it is.”
I’ll just speak for myself here, and say that it is really reassuring to hear the person helming this new Alien project talk about some of those crucial themes. The idea of humans being caught between the vicious xenomorphs and advanced AI — or to take it a step further, the corporate greed that fuels that AI — was always central to the original quadrilogy of films. So it’s a great sign that Hawley is keeping that in mind.
“In the movies, we have this Weyland-Yutani Corporation, which is clearly also developing artificial intelligence — but what if there are other companies trying to look at immortality in a different way, with cyborg enhancements or transhuman downloads?” Hawley continued. “Which of those technologies is going to win? It’s ultimately a classic science fiction question: does humanity deserve to survive? As Sigourney Weaver said in that second movie, ‘I don’t know which species is worse. At least they don’t f**k each other over for a percentage.’ Even if the show was 60% of the best horror action on the planet, there’s still 40% where we have to ask, ‘What are we talking about it, beneath it all?’ Thematically, it has to be interesting. It’s humbling to get to play with the iconography of this world.”
Cyborg enhancements and transhuman downloads? From the sounds of things, this could be a really fascinating take on the Alien universe, tying in other sci-fi elements that have never been featured in the series before.
For now though, we wait. The Alien series is expected to roll out on Hulu in 2023 at the earliest.