High school? Way not cool.

That’s the anxiety-fueled feeling running through the noggin of shy, socially awkward Justin Tolchuck (Dan Byrd) in the opening of “Aliens in America,” a clever new culture-clash twist on the coming-of-age comedy that brightens prime time with its arrival at 8:30 tonight on the CW network.

Even though 16-year-old Justin is hopeful that his junior year will go better now that his braces are off, he knows better. And as soon as school opens, he’s once again the taunting object of bullies and prankster joking.

But wait. Help is on the way.

Justin’s loving parents — Franny (Amy Pietz) and Gary (Scott Patterson, “Gilmore Girls”) — have just imported an exchange student from overseas to live with the Tolchucks and give Justin an in-home buddy to bond with. How thoughtful.

Except that Franny was sold on the premise thinking the exchange student would be a handsome Scandinavian who could confer a little coolness on her outsider son. But now, instead, it is Muslim Pakistani teen Raja Musharaff (Adhir Kalyan) who hops off the plane in traditional dress to join the nonplussed Tolchucks.

And that’s when the real social satire fun of “Aliens in America” begins.

Because though Raja is earnest, inquisitive and friendly, he nonetheless stirs post-9/11 feelings of unease, cultural ignorance and petty prejudice. (MORE)


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