Netflix's 'Alien Worlds' Is the Ultimate Escape From Our Doomed Planet

Take me to the alien planet populated by fuzzy cat-sized crabs, please.


Now that we’ve been stuck inside our homes for almost a full year, most of us are desperate for any sort of escape. But what if slapstick family comedies and drug cartel dramas and superhero shows aren’t cutting it anymore? We humbly suggest leaving this whole dumb planet behind and journeying a few light years away to the fantastic planets dreamed up by Netflix’s new pseudo-docuseries Alien Worlds

Alien Worlds, at only four episodes long, gives us a taste of what extraterrestrial life might look like, based on what we already know about the weird and odds-defying ways life evolved on Earth. It’s part documentary, part science fiction, interspersing computer-animated visions of lush alien worlds with a potpourri of comparisons to the wild animal and plant life on our own. On far-off Eden, a day takes an entire year to pass, and monkey-like predators migrate with the sun while the offspring of their prey wait in spherical cocoons up in the trees. On the exoplanet (the word for any planet outside our own solar system) Atlas, fish-like birds are airborne for their entire lives, while on tidally-locked Janus, five-legged crustaceans called “pentapods” mature into two drastically different forms of the same species, depending on which side of the planet their larvae land on. It’s great fun to see how the animators of the show took ideas from our own planet and translated them into different environments, creating not only fantastical creatures but weather patterns and air densities that could only exist on worlds that bear barely any resemblance to our own. If you’re into, for example, the insane amount of time and energy James Cameron and his crew put into describing and providing Latin names for every single bug and weed that appears in Avatar, you’ll find endless joy in watching all the “what ifs” play out in Alien Worlds

Secretly, though, it’s the Earth-bound science that ends up being the most interesting part. Over the course of its episodes, the show consults with specialists in a wide range of areas, from cavers hunting for gloopy bacterial colonies delightfully known as “snottites,” to mycologists studying the network of fungal mycelium that connect the trees in a forest. The series documents the symbiotic relationship between African hunter-gatherers and a bird called a honeyguide that communicates with them to lead them to a hard-to-reach beehive, and the biodiversity that exists within a single species of leafcutter ant whose offspring have the ability to grow into vastly different types suited for vastly different jobs. They even drive up to the gates of Area 51-but, sadly, no one is allowed inside. Oh, well.


A segment in one episode features Didier Queloz, one of the Swiss astronomers who won the Nobel Prize in 2019 for discovering 51 Pegasi b, the first-known exoplanet orbiting a Sun-like star. Since then, and using his team’s methods, we’ve found tons more, increasing the probability of one day finding not only another planet that is habitable, but another planet that contains an entire extraterrestrial ecosystem, and perhaps even intelligent life similar to our own.

Later, the show visits the Arecibo Observatory (of GoldenEye fame), from which we once beamed a message describing Earth and humanity into the far reaches of space. So far, we’ve received no response. Given how many planets are out there, and how many more must be out there just by raw statistics, and how many of them we haven’t tried to talk to yet, there’s still plenty of hope that little green men are out there waiting for us to send another shout into the cosmos. Or maybe they’re more like little green crabs. Need help finding something to watch? Sign up here for our weekly Streamail newsletter to get streaming recommendations delivered straight to your inbox.

Emma Stefansky is a staff entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @stefabsky.


Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.


Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.


BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

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