The X-Files

On being a 21st-century X-Phile

Guess what, guys? I’ve joined a new fandom! So naturally, I’m going to drag you along with me!

Actually, this is not a new fandom by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just new to me. The X-Files is one of those 90s things that I missed out on because I was too busy being a tiny, sheltered homeschool kid. But now, thanks to Netflix, I’m catching up on a lot of the things I missed as a child, including this lovely show.

For those of you who also missed out on the 90s, here’s the plot of The X-Files: Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully make up a special branch of the FBI dedicated to investigating “x-files”–that is, unsolved cases involving strange, unexplainable phenomena. Mulder is a respected criminal profiler and also a firm believer in everything that goes bump in the night, from UFOs to vampires. Scully is a forensic pathologist who believes all those things are figments of Mulder’s imagination until proven otherwise. (Spoiler alert: It’s usually proven otherwise.) Together, they uncover alien activity, evil government conspiracies, and monsters of every description. And fall madly in love, although they refuse to admit it for the looongggeeessst time.

Basically, The X-Files is everything I want in a show. There’s a new case and a new monster almost every episode, and most of them are very creative; there’s a nice blend of humour, horror, and pathos, and a balanced number of light-hearted and really intense episodes; and most importantly, the characters are fantastic. I love Mulder for his conviction, his sense of humour, and his all-around adorableness. I REALLY, REALLY love Scully for her smarts, her coolness in the face of danger, her open-minded skepticism (it makes sense if you watch the show), and for being played by Gillian Anderson, who is a truly brilliant actress. And together, they’re easily one of my favourite TV couples of all time. Fun fact: it was fans of this show who first invented the term “shipping.”


And that’s not even getting into all the fun side characters, like the Lone Gunmen; or the fantastic villains, like the Cigarette Smoking Man. One thing The X-Files excels at is character development.

Of course, it’s not a perfect show. It was made in the 90s, after all, so there are…shoulder pads, and other horrors best left in the past. The writers also had this annoying habit of making Mulder and Scully do long voice-over monologues in the most dramatic episodes, and they were almost always painfully cheesy. Plus, according to the interwebs, the whole show went downhill after season 7, and apparently most of the big questions (What happened to Samantha? What exactly is the Cigarette Smoking Man up to? What kind of name is “Fox” for a dude?) aren’t answered very well.

But that’s one of the benefits to starting a show more than a decade after it stopped airing: you get to find out in advance when it stops being good, instead of watching it slowly spiral down into oblivion while vainly hoping that it’ll somehow recover its former greatness (like I’m doing right now with Supernatural, for example). The downside is that there’s nobody around to obsess over The X-Files with me, because the original fans have got over the obsession by now, and most people my age or younger haven’t seen it. And that is why no one will understand my Halloween costume this year. Sigh.

Luckily, I have a blog! So fair warning: A lot of my posts in the coming weeks will probably be about The X-Files. Feel free to join me in obsessing over outdated TV–or not, as you so choose.



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