On the surface, the premise for Defiance—SyFy’s new “aliens on earth” TV show—has everything to distinguish itself as a science fiction hit. After a period of a long war, alien life forms have settled on Earth; the aliens are forced to integrate into human society after (accidentally) causing the nigh-cataclysmic destruction of most of the planet. The Earth is a shadow of what it once was, a strange place with new technology, mutated creatures, and fragmented societies trying to rebuild. There’s political intrigue, hidden danger, inter-species relationships, and lots of gunfights.
But what makes Defiance stand out is the fact that, like many science fiction shows before it, it’s not really about aliens or technology. At its heart, Defiance is a western, a post-apocalyptic Deadwood that calls to the frontier-lover in us all.