Written by: Sherryn Daniel, Special to CC2K
With the premiere of New Moon, the next film in the Twilight series, less than two weeks away, CC2K contributor Sherryn Daniel reflects on whether the series has some hidden commonalities with a sci-fi offering of a decade ago, the WB series Roswell, and debates the merits of each.
Teens, tweens, and even young girls get flustered when they see or even think about Robert Pattinson, the sexy actor who plays vampire with a bite in the Twilight movies (based off of Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling book series). Many even seem to relate to the character Bella, the lonely, emo heroin from the books and in the movies. But what most Twilight fans don’t realize that in 1999, the WB had a teen drama called Roswell (watch the pilot here) that pretty much has the same plot with aliens instead of vampires. The show never had as much popularity as Stephenie Meyer’s creation, but it did have just enough to become a cult classic.
Twilight is the story about a lonely teenager from Forks, Washington, who gets saved by a supernatural hottie, vampire Edward, and she lets him make it his mission to protect her at all costs. Bella was saved from getting smashed by a car when her quiet yet hot biology class partner Edward Cullen uses his vampire strength to halt the car, he puts his secret and life at risk for hers. Of course, the relationship is fraught with other-worldy peril—but they’re soulmates, after all, so they can overcome all obstacles.
Roswell was based the Roswell High book series by Melinda Metz. The storyline in the first Twilight book/movie and Roswell’s pilot resemble each other tremendously. Roswell’s pilot is the story of a sensitive girl named Liz Parker (Shiri Appleby) who has lived in the hum-drum town of Roswell, New Mexico, her whole life. She has dreams of being a famous molecular biologist and has close knit friends whom she grew up with. One day, she gets shot at her family’s restaurant but is saved by her quiet yet hot biology class partner Max Evans (Jason Behr), an alien masquerading as a human teenager. By using his healing powers publicly, he puts his secret and life at risk for hers.
Both of the series have a gripping plot and an addictive romantic storyline that hooks viewers into being lifelong fans. But even though they have extensive similarities, there are distinct. It begs the question: which is best, Twilight or Roswell?
Both Roswell and the Twilight film feature voiceovers from the female leads but there is a stark difference between the tones they use. Appleby conveys warmth and sincerity when she talks about her life changing, whereas Stewart’s voiceover is shrill and simply pronounced words coming out of her mouth. Both female leads are straight-A students and highly proficient in science.
Another similarity is found in the attraction between the otherworldly hunks and their objects of desires in that Edward is strangely attracted to Bella because of her unique scent while Max has loved Liz from the moment he laid eyes on her, and they formed an alien-ignited bond after he healed her. Of course they fall in love, and Max’s alien roots gets in the way of their happily ever after. Since Bella’s scent tantalizes Edward, it makes him not only drawn to her but it draws in a murderous vampire who tries to kill her and Edward throughout the story, but they do love each other and form a bond over their time together.
Liz and Bella are both depicted as “average” girls. But Bella differs from Liz because she is portrayed as an angry, pretentious, loner who doesn’t seem to have any other dreams except chase after Edward and doesn’t put forth effort into making lifelong friends like Liz does.
Both stories feature sexual tension by way of biology (class). In Roswell, the tension can be found in Liz’s and Max’s soulful stares. However, in Twilight, the main tension consists of Bella reiterating in her head, over and over again, that yes, Edward is smoking beautiful.
Max’s alien family—his sister Isabel (Katherine Heigl) and friend Michael Gueren (Brendan Fehr)—oppose the budding relationship. The three of them play gorgeous loners in their high school. Similarly, Edward’s family members are also attractive loners who initially oppose his relationship with Bella.
One important difference between Roswell and the Twilight movie is that the secondary and tertiary characters are well rounded and also have their own storylines. In the Twilight film the audience can only grab bits and pieces from who the background characters, who are only on screen a very short period of time.
Both the show and the Twilight books and movie use Native American mysticism, and the music selection from Stephenie Meyer’s playlist (which she published on her website) list is very similar to the music selected for Roswell: largely dark with romantic tones. Older male authority figures also play important roles in both stories: Bella’s father is cop who complicates his daughter’s relationship, while Roswell’s Sheriff Valenti does the same exact thing.
Some may argue that Twilight does not resemble Roswell and that it’s better than this cancelled WB/UPN show. When I was a tween, I watched Roswell and fell head-over-heels with the story of an alien from the 1947 crash saving an every day girl. Of course, I had a mad crush on Jason Behr (the 90s version of Robert Pattinson, in my opinion). And when I watched Twilight in theaters, it felt very similar to my beloved alien TV show.
I personally think Roswell is better than the Twilight film because the pilot is warmer, wittier, and better plotted. Although both are enjoyable, you just don’t get as much realism and soul with the Twilight film as you do with Roswell. That said, Roswell also had three seasons to develop its characters and storylines, so perhaps New Moon will allow Twilight’s characters to grow and evolve the way Roswell’s characters did.