In a way, I feel robbed. I have spent the last 23 years in an X-Files-less world, not by choice of course, but because for the past two decades my mother had instilled in me that The X-Files was some sort of bogus show not worthy of my time. “It’s so stupid,” she would say to me as I would pause for a moment on the Fox network, seriously questioning whether or not we should take a moment to hear what the pretty redhead had to say, after all, she was a medical doctor. “You won’t like it,” she assured me, and so,reluctantly, I would flip the channel to her personal favorite — Everybody Loves Raymond (ew).
Last year, during one of the many snowstorms that plagued New York, I found myself at home with a bottle of wine, Netflix, ten whole seasons and two full length films of unchartered X-Files territory, and no mother to protest at my questionable binge watching habit. For the first few episodes I watched as Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny awkwardly gained their footing as Mulder and Scully — the FBI’s most dynamic duo. To say I was a bit confused would be an understatement. Why was everyone so obsessed with a show whose main antagonist was an old man with a cigarette and various monsters of the week? I mean, I’m no horror aficionado, but a man who slithers through the pipes stealing people’s livers, and makes a nest out of bile and newspaper isn’t exactly my idea of pure, unadulterated horror, you know?
Nevertheless, I persisted, and by Season Three’s “Paper Clip,” I had thrown myself head first down the conspiracy theorist rabbit hole, staying up until two, sometimes three in the morning, pouring over countless Wikipedia (the internet’s most reliable news source) articles, only to find that nearly every episode of the X-Files had at least a tiny bit of truth to it. The United States government really had offered Nazi scientists amnesty for their war crimes against the Jewish people in exchange for their scientific intelligence to further advance the U.S.’s space exploration and missile programs. The truth was indeed out there.
But by Season Four’s cancer arc, I was completely wrapped up in the fate of both Mulder and Scully. It seemed unfair that after everything they had gone through, with both Scully and Mulder losing family members in their undying quest to expose the truth, as well as their unlikely friendship, that the two would part ways in this manner. Luckily, I had waited a solid twenty years after the initial airing to actually watch the episode, and was well aware that there were still a whopping six seasons left where my beloved Dana Scully was not dead. Had I watched it in real time in the mid-’90s, I’m fairly positive my seven-year-old self would have woken up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, too nervous over Scully’s fate to sleep. So in that regard, my mother was right — I probably was too young to watch and fully appreciate the complexities of The X-Files.
It’s been 15 years since Mulder and Scully left the bureau, holed up in a dingy motel room — just them against the world. The X-Files wasn’t always perfect (need we remind you about the monstrosities that were Agent Doggett and Reyes or perhaps the bizarre William as the second coming plot line) but goddamn if it wasn’t the best show to ever grace television. It took me awhile to get here, but at 26 years old, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I wholeheartedly want to believe.