Quick, X-Files fans, what was the big idea behind the series? If you said anything about conspiracies you’re wrong.
So unless you’re a long term fan this is going to be a bit of a shock to you but on the show they never proved anything. All the evidence of conspiracies to hide aliens and their invasions and super soldeirs created from them and space babies....and whatever else I’m forgetting...all the evidence is lost or destroyed. At best it’s placed in some file Mulder gives to the government to never be viewed again and at worst, like several different times, the duo of Mulder and Scully are right there as the thing is happening, maybe aliens landing or taking off in a ship that’s clearly alien, yet they don’t see or remember the event. Seriously anyone see that first movie? They’re all on an alien space ship and seemingly just forget any of that happened and never really mention it again.
The show would go back and forth, was Mulder a man with a deep desire for the truth or someone who just couldn’t live with the real world and wanted some anwers to explain away the traumas and pains of his life. A sister that disappeared when he was young, a father that wasn’t home and the parent’s divorce.
As the seasons went by the show slowly morphed into a series of 2 different critiques laying side by side but arriving at this back and forth. We’d get more alien stuff, more conspiracy stuff, but, and this always happened, we’d go to a more realistic explanation for things. Maybe it was all the militia stuff and the creators didn’t want to foment anti-government sentiment that would just result in bad press and loss of life but there seemed to be a clear story the show wanted to tell. Basically that everything people thought was a UFO was really just secret government aircraft, what’s more, the UFO stuff, the alien idea, was all a fantasy the government let exist because the reality-the cold war, the rise of terrorism, and the shrinking of power around the globe to a few superpowers-this stuff wasn’t pretty. Basically the interesting moments, to me, of the X-Files was when every so often they’d sort of break the fourth wall and talk about how weird the real world was. “Hey, viewer, this is our actual history since WW II, it’s more interesting than these UFO stories, right?”
In more recent years, as the internet became the watering hole of fan theories, we got more and more theories about popculture being told from an unreliable narrator. Like the stories where people say Harry Potter isn’t the hero of Harry Potter we now are inundated with theories about all of our favorite shows having actually been about something else or having had a perspective that made everything interesting. Like how Home Alone is just the sad fantasy of a kid whose family died in a plane accident.
The X-Files is a show that is a lot more interesting to watch, at least on repeat, when you look at it like Mulder is really just a huge asshole with problems.
You see an alien? No Mulder’s story wants their to be an alien. Scully, trying to argue that he’s wrong, that he needs to get over himself, she’s the person in the real world trying to get through to a person who is becoming her friend. I mean why else would they still just be normal FBI agents when any one of their cases have made them super famous?
What’s interesting about the new X-Files is watching the show with that perspective. It’s like they seriously want you to have that view. There’s a scene where Mulder is explaining to Scully that he now believes something, and she’s telling him that he needs to get over it, and then this young woman who has been staying with Mulder comes to the door in that very TV way. Scully gets it, and as an audience member we’re supposed to go “no, Scully, Mulder is onto the truth you should trust him and not think he’s giving it to this woman.” No, viewer, Scully has known this guy for over two decades. How about for once you see things from her perspective. And finally it seems like the show really wants you to.
Or maybe it’s the only way they can keep the show’s fiction afloat after so many years, the “is the truth out there”, Fox and his fantasy versus Dana and her pragmatic rationalist approach, maybe it’s not working any more. I mean agruably it stopped working during the original run, but maybe this new set-up is how that subtext manifests in this new show.
Seriously though, if you watch the show and just imagine everyone looking at Mulder is thinking “not this shit again,” it’s like 1000% better.