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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Roswell vs. Twilight: A Teen Love Showdown

Ever since reading Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, I've been thinking about teen romance novels (which is what I think that book is ultimately) and how they bring in readers with simple twists on the same old formula. I'm not against formulaic writing. Sometimes telling the story a certain way just works, and there's no reason to reinvent the wheel each time an author sits down to write. However, I do think it's a good idea to bring something new to the table - whether it's character or setting or rules of the world.

Last night, I stumbled upon the pilot episode of an old teen show I used to watch in college called Roswell. What blew me away is how within the first five minutes of the show, it accomplishes the same thing that Meyer accomplishes in the first 100 pages or so of her book. They open with almost the same exact plot beat, and yet for my money, the Roswell opener is significantly more moving and certainly more efficient.

If you've read Twilight and have the time, take a look at this clip and let me know what you think.

Sorry about the ads - one of the internet's necessary evils.



* This post has become one of the most popular posts on my blog, and I'm thrilled about all the comments I've received and the active discussion about the comparison between Roswell and Twilight. In December, I posted again about the comparison and the success of the film. Please feel free to check out that post here.

38 comments:

Sven said...

I can't speak to anything Twilight, but Roswell was always one of those shows I'd been meaning to watch. Now that they have them up on Hulu maybe I shall.

randika said...

Mmm. Roswell. That first season was just great writing. It's a shame it suffered the fate of many cross-genre shows: people started messing with the balance to make it more one thing or the other. I remember that pilot just blew me away. I think I still have it somewhere... on VHS. Gasp.

Stephanie said...

Randika, you can watch the entire first season on hulu.com for about three or four 15 or 30 second commercials per hour. It's really a great set-up they have at hulu.

I agree the pilot was fantastic. It was an unusual pilot in that it was very self-assured. Most pilots tend to be somewhat uncertain, as if they're not quite sure of their tone, and not quite certain which characters viewers will respond to. This pilot is exceptionally strong though, in my opinion.

However, as I'm watching some of the later episodes, I feel a little bit that they're relying too much on the romantic tension for plot, and after watching episode four last night, I'm feeling a little bit like I'm waiting for the story to really get going. I know that it will though!

Anonymous said...

As a previous (serious) fan of Roswell, and now, a fan of the Twilight series... I must say that I was a bit pissed off at first because of how MUCH it seems like Stephanie Meyer TOTALLY ripped off Roswell!

Though I enjoy the book [Twilight] (friends sucked me in--one of them actually agreed with me on the parallels btw Roswell vs Twilight) I was still a bit upset by the clear similarities...

Meyer claims she saw the whole story unfolding like a movie in her head--must've been rather easy since she had a visual aid [Roswell] to help write the rest! ;) (no offense to the author intended but let's be real here... lol)

Anyone who is familiar with Roswell, and then reads Twilight will see what I mean... :\

-c

jackie said...

I just found this entry, months later because I have just decided to read the twilight books. I was only a few chapters into twilight when I stopped and thought 'this book is becoming increasingly like roswell'. Roswell was one of my favorite teen tv shows when I was growing up, and my sister and I have all of the seasons on DVD (even though it did go downhill). My sister has been wanting to read Meyer's books for awhile now and I told her on the phone last night 'i dont know, i think it's a rip off of roswell!'. I asked a couple of people who read it if they saw similarities and no one was familier with roswell. I finally googled the two just now and came to this blog. I'm happy i'm not alone here...

Anonymous said...

Amen Sister..I've been a huge fan of the Roswell series for years now. My husband and I even joke about opening a crashdown cafe....Last night I took my 14 year old sister in law to watch twilight. 15 minutes into it I thought I was going to puke...I coudn't believe how they took Roswell just added vampires,four inch hair and voila-Twilight was born. What a serious ripoff...This pilot was so much more intimate and soulful than what we get in the twilight film...It really bothers me that the show didn't have a tenth of the success the twilight franchise has. Man if I see another Twilighter, I'm gonna give them a copy of the Roswell pilot and tell them "Look, this is how's it's done"

Anonymous said...

Roswell was and still is one of the best shows that has been on TV. Even though the later episodes got off track, season one was incredible. This was one of the first shows that I waited each week to catch the next episode. I downloaded the videos as they were available online and saved them all. I haven't really cared as much about anything on the air since. I remember that one of the entertainment sites voted the Roswell Pilot the best ever shown on TV. I have no interest in reading or seeing anything Twilight. I certainly don't fit the demographic for either show, being a more mature male. LOL.

Diana said...

When I was reading Twilight, I started trying to picture Bella. I do that when I read books. I try to picture someone to make it more real. From the description in the book I thought of Shiri Appleby. As I kept on reading I realized that Isabel Evans was a lot like Rosalie. That's when I started really thinking about it and noticed all the similarities.

Both shows have mysterious otherwordly guys that reveal their secrets to a human after savig her life. Then they have their siblings that are upset that they going to be exposed. Both have a blonde supposedly gorgeous stuck up sister that disagrees with the relationship. Both struggle with sexual tension because they fear the human getting hurt. Both end up having babies, even though Max has his with Tess. Both stories even have a supernatural other person (tess and jacob) that compete for the attention of one of the two in the relationship and in both cases they feel that's the person they were supposed to be with if it weren't for their partner. They both have the kids team up as biology partners. And both stories have guys who struggle with putting their girlfriend in danger due to their secret and try to pull away for her sake.

There's probably a lot more similarities I haven't even thought of. I have to say that i love both stories but agree they are really similar.

The twilight movies should take an example from Roswell which was filmed a lot better.

Anonymous said...

i completely agree. the similarities between roswell and twilight are more that coincidental and make me slightly angry.

http://www.tvsquad.com/2008/12/02/twilight-vs-roswell-are-aliens-more-romantic-than-vampires/

The Casual Critic said...

Ever since I watched Twilight I had the same thoughts, having been a Roswell fan and watched all three seasons.

I just finished writing them down (in an attempt to start writing again on my vastly ignored movie reviews site) and then went on to google for "roswell twilight". I was happy to find your comment and see that others noticed the same similarities as well.

It's a shame. Roswell covered these themes much better.

Casual Critic Twilight minireview

Anonymous said...

Although its similar. the way they are written is completley different. Twilight is more modern and better for people who like 1st person books. Meyer used a very elegant writing style which made every sentence interesting :) They have a similar plot but they are also both alike to dracula. and other stories. so whats the big deal?

Jayeded said...

As a Roswell fan myself, I agree it was a great show. But after the first season it went COMPLETELY downhill, and that kinda spoils my memory of Roswell.
I mean, how GREAT could Max and Liz's love have been if he sleeps and impregnates a fellow alien first chance he gets?

Edward would NEVER do that to Bella. He would rather leave her to see her move on and have a happy, SAFE life.
In the second season of Roswell Max is chasing after Liz even though he knows his life is dangerous and harmful to her.
I have many more points like this, but simply: Twilight to me is just a much better love story.

Elle said...

Twilight is just perfect i love the books and the movie. I like Roswell thought but its very different in my oppinion. ;)

Anonymous said...

I completely agree. Yes, the end of Roswell took a turn, but looking at the root story, the pilot, there are a ridiculous number of similarities. Had Twilight been expanded into a television show, I'm sure they would have had more trouble keeping Edward as the "perfect" boyfriend, simply because that tends to happen over a longer series. Outside of the plot, though, the characters are remarkably similar. Rosalie was a dead ringer for Isabel, as was Emmett to Michael.

Bombayorker said...

I was getting bored @ the airport & bought 'Twilight' the book, it was great,, saw the movie also afterwards which was a decent adaptation of the book.. I was then just going thru Hulu that I saw Roswell, had a look @ the plot & saw the pilot .. everything was just the same, replace aliens by vampires.. I thought I was the only one noticing this.. so googled 'roswell & twilight'.. Stephanie Meyer, took off Roswell... On her website she says she dreamt of it.. glad that others here feel the same...

Bombayorker said...

I finished watching 1st season of Roswell.

Similarities:
SIster's name is Isabella in Roswell.
In a Roswell canteen scene, Isabella carries a apple in the same way as seen on the front page of the book.
Maria drives a VWagon.
They all drive a Jeep.

The love story in Twilight is written well tho.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

My teenage girls feel betrayed that they got sucked into Twilight when it's an obvious ripoff of Roswell.

The nice thing about being burgeoning young adults though is discovering cool stuff from a decade ago that they were too young to notice the first time around....that would include Roswell. My girls are also just now into Legolas waaayyyy after everyone else has moved on. :)

One more Twilight comparison not discussed here: The fact that Max "shines" when he's around Liz. Hmmm, now how "ingenious" is Stephenie Meyer for coming up with that particular vampiric twist? Yeah.

Anonymous said...

OMG!!! The similarities are too much for me. I was so in to twilight series i didn't know why. there was something oddly familiar about it. Today i came across the WB website with Roswell episodes and watched the pilot. MY JAW DROPPED OPEN. I am happy now that i know why it was so familiar but feel somewhat betrayed....

check it out for yourself - http://www.thewb.com/shows/roswell

Anonymous said...

I am not a big Twilight fan - I just read the book because my daughter left if here in case anyone wanted to read it. Having been a big Roswell fan, I of course noticed the similarities right away and thought that Twilight was a ripoff of Roswell. It is like someone took the major theme of Roswell and just changed aliens to vampires. I couldn't wait to see if there were any others who felt the same way on the internet - I knew there would be other loyal Roswell fans out there who would feel the same.

Dernhelm said...

dude I just caught the movie and I was thinking "Dude, they seem similar, maybe it is just me." But I see that I am not the only Roswell obsessed fan that sees it in everything. Thank you all for sharing, and that I am not crazy.

Ling said...

I'm glad that, lame as it may be, at least Twilight seems to be giving Roswell a second wind. I thought it was just me who thought that, as Roswell was one of my favorite shows ever.

Anonymous said...

another similiarity is that each alien in roswell had a unique power..(healing, dream walking etc)...while edward can read minds and so on. It's also kinda hard comparing books to a tv series. But Roswell hands down is my favourite paranormal romance...they had lots of quirky humourous moments and characters that were more interesting.

Anonymous said...

Wow, finally! I thought i was the only few out there who felt the same. Even though I have since grown up and matured from the days of the show, I do still watch a couple of episodes now and then and think to myself, "wow, for a teen drama, the show was pretty good." I cant bear to touch the twilight series, when the similarities are just so obvious, the minute I caught a glimpse of the movie trailer. It's a shame Roswell had to suffer the constant threat of cancellation, while a lousier version of it is basking in an overrated amount of limelight today.

Anonymous said...

What an interesting find on the internet!! My sister gave me 2 Twilight books for Christmas and I've just started the first one (obviously) Am thoroughly enjoying the writing and the style and the plot BUT... as a huge fan of Roswell -( own the DVD's etc,) I am reading this thinking, hey, this is just like Roswell!! The things that happen in the science lab, when Edward saves Bella's life and then they have to hide it, teenage angst at school, etc etc all happened in Roswell too. I don't know if the rest of the book continues in the same way, but certainly the early part is a complete parallel/copy of Roswell!! Hmmmmmm.

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled upon this link out of random curiosity and all I can say is thank God I did and thank God there are still some Roswell fans out there!

Roswell came out before I was too old to watch it but I remember watching its reruns later on and thinking 'wow, this is actually really good!'. I'm not sad that Twilight has taken the same whole 'forbidden love' formula (after all, every generation needs to have this sort of tale they can rave about) but I find it a real pity that many of them actually think Twilight is the greatest and most original thing ever, with the best writing and best acting and they don't even notice the complete rip-off that just happened. It's a shame that a real gem like Roswell has been forgotten by most, even if its last season was seen as a disappointment. Or maybe I was just too much of a fangirl of Max and Michael to have noticed anything. =)

Anonymous said...

I love Roswell and I noticed the similarities myself which was sort of funny since I read and saw the Twilight movies prior to watching Roswell and couldn't believe how similar they were. I do love that in Twilight Bella and Edward actually get to be together, it seems, a little more than Max and Liz. I hate that Max and Liz were always struggling. :(

Anonymous said...

I am a big fan of the Twilight saga, and a few weeks ago I ordered the Roswell complete series and totally agree with everyone here, Twilight is so much like Roswell it's scary. I have actually been making a list of the similarities ha ha.

Firstly, the more obvious - the name Isabella - Bella Swan.
Secondly, Shiri Appleby's character is identical to Bella Swan.

Thirdly, Edward is described as having beautiful auburn. bronze hair - identical to Michael's in series one.

Another character name - Mike (twilight) - Michael (roswell) .

Isabel is totally the same person as Rosalie, the stunningly beautiful sister.

Another thing, Maria reminds me a lot on Alice, especially in season one with her short hair.

In season two, there is this group of enemies called 'skins' - the leader of this alien group has the same powers as the one from twilight who can know all the thoughts one has ever had with one touch (aro it think his name is)

Tess can influence mood in roswell, as can Jasper in Twilight.

And another thing that confirmed it for me that stephenie meyer must have been a fan of roswell was when , in season two, the episode where the guy who owns the UFO centre is taken as a 'host' body. Stephenie Meyer's only book outside the Twilight saga is called 'the host' and is about aliens.

There's a lot more other small similarities, but too much to be coincidental if you ask me. I'm still a huge fan though.

Anonymous said...

I also noticed that Maria's mother (roswell) is pretty much the same person as balla swan's mother (twilight) - a hippie. The characters were so similar that I actually thought it was the same actress initially - I now realise that not to be the case but they are just so similar!

She also is dating the local sheriff. Bella Swan's dad is the local sheriff, or police man of some kind.

Edward Cullen is also very much like a mixture of both Max and Michael.

Anonymous said...

I just watched the episode from season three called 'to have and to hold' and noticed that a man (the band's manager) refers to Maria as 'Alice'! That was so weird, since, as I said previously - i think Alice from Twilight is very similar to Maria from Roswell.
(i'm the same person who wrote the previous two comments)

Anyway, just that that was another strange coincidence that I should add.

Anonymous said...

When Bella is pregnant, the baby grows at a much faster rate than any normal human foetus would. Just like when Tess is pregnant in Roswell.

Mela said...

i remember watching and loving roswell during the golden age of the WB when i was its prime target audience, about thirteen years old. i loved the show, the whole story, i owned all the books and even co-ran a michael/maria fan fiction site with my best friend called the heat wave.

yes, i was a middle school loser.

i read twilight much later when i was in law school, mainly because i needed something to numb the brain pain during finals & my contracts teacher had said it wasn't too awful after reading it with her kids. i loved the twilight story and still do, but after realizing that roswell has a second life on netflix instant, it is really disenheartening.

yes, most teen dramas are formulaic, especially those with an occult theme - buffy & roswell at the turn of the century, twilight & the vampire diaries now. however, i think what makes roswell more compelling than twilight is the relationship between the other characters.

of course, everyone roots for max and liz because we're supposed to and we do see the series (somewhat) through liz's perspective as the occasional first person narrator. but to me what made roswell real and compelling and ultimately richer than twilight is the interplay of michael, maria, alex, isabel and ultimately kyle, valenti, and jesse.

the moments between those characters were the ones i felt most, alex's death and everyone's pain, isabel's letting jesse go in the end because he never signed up for it.

everyone else here has reiterated the blatant similarities: the aliens/vampires individual powers, the rosalie/isabel archetype (though i disagree about liz and bella - liz is way more of a developed character than bella can ever be), and the tess/jacob parallel.

i think we're just "old timers" remembering when we used to walk fifteen miles through the snow home from school, but i'm happy that my tortured teen dramas were roswell and buffy and that i can enjoy twilight as frivolous entertainment as an adult.

oh yeah and season three? what was that even about? the only thing good about it was the ending, the show totally lost its way, but hey, blame the wb or upn or whatever it was at that point.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how Stephanie Meyer didn't get sued. If I wrote a paper as close to Roswell as twilight was my school would kick me out for plagiarizing.

Anonymous said...

I have noticed a few more things recently, yet again confirming my thoughts that Stephenie Meyer is a copycat!

In Twilight, Jasper is dating Alice (who is like Maria and Maria is once referred to as Alice) but he was turned into a Vampire by another Vampire called....MARIA!

Also, in season three of Roswell, Liz begins to develop powers and the ability to see into the future.

I also noticed in season one, there is an Indian Character named EDDIE. (Edward).

Faar too many similarities.

Andrew Ronzino said...

Hello, I just stumbled on this post. It's it's funny, because a few months ago, I also rewatched my old Roswell DVDs, and as I did so, I realized that Roswell and Twilight are VERY similar, and more than just the beginning. So, I spent weeks compiling info on both Twilight as well as Roswell and comparing the two. I then placed it on my blog. If you're interested, please take a look my full comparison review, I would love to hear what you have to say about it. Here's the link, and warning...the review is long: http://greaterthanknowledge.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/twilight-vs-roswell/

Thank you,
Andrew

Anonymous said...

I was in love with Twilight for the longest time, but I've kinda settled down with that. I recently found Roswell on Netflix and am loving it. But, being the avid Twilight fan that I was, I can spot ALL the similarities from a mile away. I'm not going to list them, but let's just say that in my opinion, Stephenie Meyer ripped off a high amount of KEY elements from the show. She just took the alien hybrids and turned them into vampires. And the similarities between the characters just blow me away. I don't even think I need to state it, but in my opinion, the most striking similarities are: Isabel=Rosalie, Max=Edward and Liz=Bella (except Liz is way more awesome than Bella, and this is coming from a former Twilight fan so you know that's legit haha). I think Michael is also very similar to Jasper, and that Alex was a bit similar to Emmett. Maria was only a tiny bit similar to Alice.

Anyway, in my opinion, this is blatant thievery. I want to find Stephenie Meyer and give her a stern talking to, then find Melinda Metz and give her a hug.

Anonymous said...

I LOVED Twilight! I can quote almost every line in the book. then i watched Roswell. It is almost Identical! I was so upset! I can hardly watch Roswell without having Twilight Flashbacks. I get that you can use an other piece of writting asinspiration but this is blatant plagerism! TEAM ROSWELL!!!!

Anonymous said...

as a loyal roswell fan, i thought a lot about this too...
http://vanessasgreatperhaps.tumblr.com/post/6731697133/are-vampires-sexier-than-aliens

Anonymous said...

I completely agree. I first watched Twilight as when Roswell was aired I was almost 8 or 9.

Now seeing Roswell I am completely in love with Max and forgotten about Edward the serious caring lover.

Twilight movie should have starred Jason Behr and Shiri Appleby!

Their chemistry is too intriguing than anyone I have ever seen.