USA’s new Colony is not a story of alien invasion, it’s an espionage thriller with a sci-fi backdrop, executive producer Carlton Cuse told reporters today at the TCA Summer Press Tour. In crafting the series, he and EP Ryan Condal instead had in mind photos of Paris during the Nazi occupation that showed well-dressed locals sitting in sidewalk cafes drinking espresso as stormtroopers passed by.

Colony - Pilot“We wanted to make sure we aren’t doing another show in the aliens-vs,-humans genre,” Cuse said. He called the show more of a metaphor for Afghanistan, in much the same way the U.S. went into Iraq and Afghanistan and “put local governments into place but at the same time ones that were loyal to, and responsive to our needs. That’s kind of all we know at the beginning and over time” locals will figure out “what their greater purpose is.”

In February, USA Network picked up Colony to series with a 10-episode order. Written and executive produced by Cuse and Condal, the drama stars Lost alum Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies (The Walking Dead). Colony takes place in Los Angeles in the near future, in a state of occupation by a force of outside intruders. Some locals choose to collaborate with the authorities and benefit from the new order; others do not, and suffer the consequences.

The outsiders already have taken overusa-network when the series begins and “there isn’t an explainer character,” Cuse said, adding. “The history of colonization is a history of subjugation.” The mystery element is in learning what are the new rules and what’s outside the high metal walls now surrounding Los Angeles. Portions of L.A. have survived, including Santa Monica and the San Fernando Valley. Downtown still stands but there is not a soul around, and beyond that is a launch pad from which spacecraft depart and arrive.

Asked if they thought it was possible for Americans to envision being overrun by any power other than aliens of the outer-space sort, Cuse responded, “Netflix?”