Roswell follows the story of Liz Parker as she stumbles into the elusive and paranormal world of Max Evans and the Roswell Aliens. Played by Shiri Appleby, Liz was just an average teenager living and working in Roswell at her parents’ alien-themed coffee shop. One day, an altercation breaks out during her shift and Liz is accidentally shot. In a mad dash to save her life, Max swoops in to heal her, but inadvertently reveals his alien abilities in the process. Running off before anyone else has a chance to see, Liz is left with nothing but questions and a mysterious glowing handprint across her abdomen.
Roswell is her chronicling of everything that happens next.
The Voice Over Narration is Liz’s Diary
The story of Roswell isn’t just an account of Liz’s life or the events that happen throughout the series; it’s her diary and the voice-over used directly reflects that. She begins nearly every episode with a dated journal entry that goes over everything she’s learned since the last time we saw her. She expands on what’s happened in her life and asks questions – lots of them.
Liz wants to know what’s going on, and whether her diary is being used to work through her feelings or pine over Max Evans, the narration we hear is her means of figuring things out.
She isn’t just smart and inquisitive, but warm and genuine. Her voice is sweet and inviting, and it draws us into her world.
Liz shows consistent growth and understanding. She’s a budding scientist and great at figuring things out for herself. She uses narration to guide the audience through her thought process and keep us in the loop across the entire series. She’s our point of entry for everything that goes on in Roswell and gives us the complete truth of how she thinks and feels. After all, it’s her diary.
At the end of most episodes, there’s an accompanying conclusion to her diary entry and by using this style of voice-over narration, the audience gets to grow as Liz does. We feel her awareness grow and get to see things through her eyes; ask the same questions she does.
It’s all told from her point of view, and we’re just along for the ride – but there’s a deeper reason for it.
While the audience is staunchly aware that they’re a stand-in for her diary, and Liz’s voice-over is simply her words made audible, the narration serves a much more fundamental purpose from a narrative standpoint. At the end of the series, once the secret of the Roswell aliens isn’t so secret anymore, Liz takes off with Max to evade the government.
The Series Ends with Her Narration
The series finale acts as her last journal entry and gives us the conclusion to everything that happens – somewhat.
We come to find out that all along, Liz’s voiceover was actually her parents reading the diary, and by the end of the series, we’re all caught up on her entries. We learn that the two eloped and plan to use their powers to help people by evading the law and doing good deeds. It’s our narrator’s way of telling her audience that their future is left unwritten and unnarrated – she and Max plan to write it as they go.
The Impact of Liz’s Narration
Liz’s use of narration wasn’t just meant to be a journal, but a heartfelt goodbye to her parents and we find out that her diary wasn’t meant for us, but for their families. It’s meant to clue them in on everything that happened in her life since Roswell began. By doing this, she explains why they had to leave as quickly as they did and what they plan to do with their lives – as well as every event of the series.
The point of her journal was to give the people they care about a sense of closure, not tell an urban myth. She leaves the diary behind for her parents and asks them to burn it after they’re done. It’s a beautiful, albeit abrupt, way to conclude the sci-fi drama that was unfortunately canceled by the third season due to declining ratings.
The Rebirth of Roswell
Roswell bravely attempted to explore some of the more fringe and sci-fi elements that were slightly ahead of its time but didn’t resonate as well with early 2000s viewers. Fortunately, in a post-Marvel landscape, these topics are considered as mainstream as it gets and Roswell got to see a 2019 reimagining in the form of Roswell, New Mexico.
While Roswell, New Mexico deviates considerably from the original and left fans of the classic series divided, both are adaptations from the Roswell High books and draw from the same source material. As a result, the underlying narration style, and method of storytelling, remain intact.
Both of them follow Liz’s point of view as she unravels the secrets lurking within her hometown.
Kim Handysides is an award-winning voice artist, coach and thought leader in her industry. Her narrations have been heard on Discovery, Netflix, and the major networks, in iMax, the White House and the Smithsonian.