Ancient Aliens first aired on The History Channel in 2010, and for one month this year, I let it take over my life. The documentary-style series, produced by the Emmy Award-winning Kevin Burns, follows a group of conspiracy theorists as they attempt to convince the audience that life and culture on Earth began with aliens. Many of the “experts” featured in the show have no credentials other than having authored non-academic books on the subject. In fact, most of their claims have been blatantly rejected by actual scholars with training in archeology, and even Carl Sagan did not believe in UFOs.
The first time I watched this show, I was in disbelief. This piece of media called Ancient Aliens is out there, and the people that the show cites as specialists in alien activity are apparently real. But, from the get-go, before any so-called ‘experts’ have even been introduced, the show already had me in a daze of wonder and confusion.
One of the immediately startling aspects of the show is its terrible production quality. The show uses bad artist renditions to help the audience visualize the encounters of ancient humans with extraterrestrial life, and I cannot imagine a worse use of money. Within seconds, I was hearing blatantly false statements, including that scientists do not understand the Bermuda Triangle. In reality, the phenomenon of airplanes and ships disappearing in the area between Southern Florida, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico has been explained by scientists as nothing abnormal. The narrator, Robert Clotworthy, had already thrown a series of bold claims at the audience with absolutely no supporting evidence even before someone that the producers cite as an expert makes an appearance on screen. Words like “decades” and “millions” are used arbitrarily, seemingly at random, without citing any actual research.
The first ‘expert’ that appears on screen in season two is none other than the disheveled-looking conspiracy theorist of meme fame Giorgio A. Tsoukalos. While I am delighted that most people do not take him seriously, it is still beyond me that anyone would pay him to appear on a show where all he does is throw meaningless sentences at the camera. What sets the cast of “experts” in this show apart is that they had the gumption to go out there and make these claims to the public.
The title sequence is a remarkable piece of television. Ominously vague questions such as “Who were they?” and “Why did they come?” flash across the screen. These words, which rattle my core to this day, float mysteriously across stock images of the pyramids, Stonehenge, and other famous landmarks that drift around the words.
Ancient Aliens went so far as to actually make me believe in aliens less. I have always accepted that the universe is infinite, so it makes sense that there would be life out there somewhere. But, the cast of this show and their alleged “evidence” of aliens have made me reconsider where I stand. Everything they say seems to discredit them more and more, yet the show stays true to its path. I can only compare the producers of Ancient Aliens to a horse with blinders on, except they put the blinders on themselves to actively ignore the scientific evidence that overwhelmingly counters all of their claims. In a weird way, I respect their stubbornness, and maybe it was the sheer audacity of everyone involved in its production that convinced me to keep watching the show a decade later.