When I was growing up, The X-Files was all the rage… almost everyone had seen at least a couple of episodes, and the show itself was firmly planted in the pop culture of the 90s and early 00s. It did a lot of things no other popular show had done up to that point — it toyed with traditional gender roles, introduced the ‘procedural crime drama’ format that is so popular today, played upon Cold War fears of a government conspiracy and the mistrust of those in power (something that I think remains relevant today in a country that has only become more disturbingly complacent since the 90s), and did its best to make the unbelievable believable, the irrational rational. Arguably the biggest draw, however, was the partnership between the two main characters. It was certainly what I cared about when I, at the young and tender age of 11, obsessively re-watched the ‘hallway scene’ from Fight the Future over and over on my VHS tape of the movie. It wasn’t exactly about wanting to see them consummate their relationship, not really; that would have ruined the unresolved sexual tension, anyway, and eventually even Chris Carter gave into the demands of so many fans and gave us the fanservice we all saw in seasons 8 and 9/I Want to Believe. It was because their relationship went so far beyond that, so far beyond what any other characters on television have had since. To go through everything with someone and for someone, to sacrifice it all, to trust someone completely — it’s the perfect union, something everybody strives for but rarely ever achieves. It forever ruined my expectations for a relationship, but that’s ok. It was great television and still is.
For those of you who were mere toddlers when this show was on and popular, I imagine that your experience of The X-Files will be different from mine. The show is so blatantly 90s that the first few seasons bring a nostalgic tear to my eye; awful suits abound, awful hair is cemented into place, and poorly-generated CGI assaults the senses. The latter seasons remind me of my childhood because I grew up watching them on television and loving them as intensely as I do now, but differently, because my understanding of it all then was quite different. But there’s obviously much to love for those of you who don’t feel that generational pang when you watch it. No one has ever done it quite like the X-Files, and certainly no one has ever gotten it so right. You’ll feel that when you start watching it, that it’s something special, that the writers genuinely cared about the characters when they wrote them (although there will be various points when you’ll wonder, mostly as a result of the shit that goes down in Scully’s life) and wanted to pass that on to you. It’s smart, sexy, delightfully dark and angsty television, with a few funny self-aware bits tossed into every season that will make you smile. Savor it — no other TV show has had the cajones to make you wait 6.5 seasons for a real kiss between the two main characters! (Plus, there’s crazy cool monsters. And aliens. Yeah.)