When Chris Carter announced the return of The X Files to television, where it belongs, I did what any self-respecting geek would do – I marathon watched the entire series plus the two movies. I caught a lot of episodes I had missed during its original run and was surprised by how much I enjoyed season 8 and Agent Doggett – Season 9 is still trash, though.
There has been a lot of television since 2002, when the show went off the air, and a lot of it has been influenced by the spooky monster, medical autopsy, myth arc style of The X Files, but most lack one important element – the brooding government conspiracy angle. Back in the “cheery” 1990s, talk of the US government spying on its own people, false flag attacks on American soil, men in black, and alien abductions were fodder for late-night radio hosts like Art Bell, or for Robert Stack in Unsolved Mysteries. But after the show’s success, cable television couldn’t get enough of experts explaining how aliens built the pyramids and were the original gods, or how secret societies run everything. The X Files played a huge role in paving the way for this conversation.
Flash forward to today and the conversation has progressed from cable television and moved to dinner table chats, political and social rallies, and Facebook statuses and Tweets. In 2016, The X Files will return to a world not too distant from the one it imagined 20 years ago. Mulder’s distrust of the government is no longer lunatic fringe, in fact, his sort of mentality is now a cash cow not only for late-night conspiracy talk radio but for popular daytime talk show hosts like Alex Jones and Glenn Beck. It’s a distrust that is growing worldwide with the topple of every government and with each new populists movement. Many more now believe that it really is the nameless cigarette smoking men in the background who control things.
This leaves The X Files in an awkward place. Popular culture has caught up to Mulder and began to listen to him, as Scully eventually did. We don’t doubt you that much anymore, Fox! So the question is how far down the rabbit hole does Mulder need to go to take us back along on his ride. We live in a world of Snowden, Assange, Anonymous, along with countless other whistleblowers and “truth” seekers bent on not only exposing the government but corporations and religious institutions too – nothing is sacred anymore. This gives our two agents a lot to work with, but they also run the risk of preaching to the choir – which can get boring very fast.
As excited as I am about The X Files returning, I hope Carter and company don’t hold back and dig deep into their most fictitiously-real universe. This generation is both more intellectually and emotionally prepared for a show like The X Files as it is prepared to be bored if they feel that what is already “out there” in the real world is more shocking than what they see on the small screen. If the producers recognize this and don’t hold back, this could be the best X Files season since the show left for Hollywood. If they try to recreate a show from 20 years ago, I will just hit the internet and go back and watch a show from 20 years ago. After I get through all six of these new episodes of course!!!
P. Ray 2015