Why USA Network’s Colony Is Still Missed

Sci-fi series Colony was cut down after three seasons with still more story to tell.

Season 1 of USA Network's Colony
Photo: USA Network

Science fiction television is one of the hardest genres to master in the industry. Sci-fi that focuses on alien invasions is even more difficult because of the intense scrutiny from the audience who has a specific vision for what it would look like in the real world. When a great sci-fi show is released, it’s often too expensive to survive or doesn’t receive the patience it deserves. 

USA Network’s Colony fits a lot of these descriptions. Starring longtime genre TV actors Josh Holloway (Lost) and Sarah Wayne Callies (The Walking Dead), the show was a great look into the life of a family just trying to survive the aftermath of an invasion by aliens we never really learn fully about. This is because the show was intended to go five seasons by its creator, House of the Dragon showrunner Ryan J. Condal. It was unfortunately canceled after only three. This was confirmed by Holloway in 2020 to Collider

Four years after it left the air, sci-fi fans are still missing the interesting dynamics presented in the post-apocalyptic Los Angeles presented in the show. We’ll talk about some of the main reasons it endures with its cult fans in 2022. 

Colony Disappeared Suddenly. What Happened To It? 

Colony ran for only three seasons on USA Network from 2016-2018. The show never got the ending the writers wanted to give it, though, and they didn’t try to wrap up any of the storylines for the fans of the show. Often when showrunners think there is a chance of cancellation, they try to give some closure to characters, but Colony was clearly setting up for more that needed to be told. Some fans hoped Netflix would be the outlet to pick up the show after its cancellation, but the mega-streamer didn’t step up to the plate, and the cliffhangers in the season three finale are still lingering over four years later. 

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The fate of the protagonist family in the series, the Bowmans, is left up in the air as they spent the first two seasons in an alien-controlled colony in Los Angeles, California and the third season in a colony in Seattle, Washington. The humans in the colonies are being used as pawns by the invaders in an inter-galactic war they are apart to be a part of. Unfortunately, we never get the payoff of this storyline. 

Colony is another example of an ambitious set of storytellers who never quite found the proper home for their show. It was likely an expensive series to produce, with a large amount of special effects and set pieces. This has always been an ominous dichotomy when producing science-fiction: viewers want to see brilliant, dystopian depictions that the genre is capable of displaying, but the lack of belief from the network executives snuffs out all the potential for the audience to enjoy.

The Acting Was Really Good

Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies are no strangers to hit TV. Holloway starred on Lost, and Callies on The Walking Dead and Prison Break. Their chemistry as a couple who is hiding secrets from one another in the middle of the apocalypse was an interesting one with a lot of growth potential, especially because the audience knew things about each person that neither character did early on in the series. 

The wildcard character in the series was Alan Snyder (Peter Jacobson). Snyder was chosen by the alien invaders as the human leader of the Los Angeles colony, the person who would do the bidding of the invaders on the ground level. The topic of humans being used as vessels for alien control is one that is discussed in this show exquisitely, as Snyder doesn’t appear to have any leadership qualities at first glance. As we learn more about his ability to wriggle his way out of any precarious situation, along with his lack of loyalty towards other people, it’s no surprise he became one of the pieces being used to control humanity by the invaders. 

These characters were quite complicated as the layers got pulled back more and more each season, and the acting by each of the leads was really something that should have gotten more credit. 

Colony Explored A Different Side of Dystopian Alien Fiction

Many alien shows and movies decide to take the angle of showing how humans overcome an alien invasion the moment it happens. We see the invaders taking over the planet. We see the people who have the strength and the skills to survive the deadly attacks, and we see who the leaders of the aliens are. Colony decided to take an entirely different route in their version of post-apocalyptic dystopia.

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We never see an alien one time in the entire series. All of their acts are carried out by the humans they’ve put in place, a la the chess grandmaster who knows exactly where to put the pieces on the board. By going this route, we see which people are cut out to save humanity, and which ones are weak and useless. It becomes a story about human motivation and perseverance, which makes it relatable for those who may not be all that interested in the minutiae of alien hypotheticals. 

Colony was yet another victim of television’s science-fiction apathy. Unless you find a network that truly values the genre, it’s hard to fulfill the stories you want to give the world. Alien-centered science-fiction is an arduous path to go down because so many have given their own vision of whether humans are the only sentient beings in the universe, but when a show like Colony really has a grip on the tropes of the setting, characters, and themes of an alien invasion, it turns into something truly novel. Hopefully it’ll be revived someday before it gets put in the dustpan of forgotten classics.

All three seasons of Colony can be streamed on Netflix in the U.K. The series is only available for purchase on platforms like Amazon and Google Play in the U.S.