Nerds & Netflix: The X-Files

Hey, fellow geeks! My name is Jessica, and I’d like to welcome you to Nerds & Netflix, where I’ll be talking about great and geeky television available to you on the wonderful gift that is Instant Netflix. My goal here is to not only make you aware of shows you can watch to up your geek credential (note: this is not a real thing), but also to highlight some lesser-known sci-fi shows that might be up your alley.

Today, I’m going to talk about the show I’ve been slowly working my way through since last December: The X-Files. Now, I’m going to assume that if you’re alive and involved in pop culture at all, you’ve heard of it: Special agents Mulder, a believer, and Scully, a skeptic, investigate weird cases for the FBI involving things like creepy children (so many creepy children!), a young Mark Sheppard (a staple in any good sci-fi show,) vampires, and aliens. Lots of aliens. Actually, aliens might not exist! We’re not sure.

And Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are going to find it.

In my opinion, X-Files is one of the most important geek shows out there—if not just one of the very best—and that’s because it has left such a mark on our pop culture as a whole. Trust me; at least one thing you love is probably connected to it in some way, whether big or small. In the sixth episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy accuses her mentor Giles of “trying to Scully her” when he’s skeptical of her theory; in a college-age flashback on the sitcom New Girl, a character has an iconic “I WANT TO BELIEVE” poster in his residence hall room; and I recognized a set from The X-Files in the pilot of my favorite but lesser-known sci-fi shows The Middleman.

Buffy:  (exasperated) I cannot believe that you, of all people, are trying to Scully me. There is something supernatural at work here. (grabs some books) Get your books! Look stuff up!

 Giles:  (takes the books) Look under what?

 Buffy:  I don’t know. (exhales) That’s your department.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, episode 1×06, “The Pack”

Even the people who make the things you love watched X-Files. So you’re excited about the end of Breaking Bad? Guess what show Vince Gilligan worked on. Ever heard of a guy named J.J. Abrams? (Probably not, it’s not like he’s involved in a billion franchises.) Abrams has said many times that his work on Fringe and Lost was influenced by X-Files. I can’t find the exact quote, but Abrams once wrote an introduction to an X-Files book, in which he said that everything we are watching on television now lives in the shadow of The X-Files.

This gif (from Tumblr, because of course) compares the title sequences from The X-Files and Fringe. This is only one of many nods to X-Files in the show.

X-Files spans nine seasons and two movies–one that fits between seasons five and six in canon, and one that came out in 2008 after the show had been over for a while. That seems pretty daunting, but come on, look at it this way: watching X-Files is like doing your geek homework. Plus, it’s got everything: great characters, hilarious comedy, heart-wrenching drama, plenty of monsters-of-the-week, and good lord, the pretty people. Fun fact: guess which fandom the term “shipper” came from? You guessed it. Mulder and Scully are such an iconic pair, and for good reason. If you’re into ‘ships in your shows, this one’s a long-burning flame, but absolutely worth the wait. Hilariously, show creator Chris Carter wanted them to be platonic, but he didn’t do a very good job of it—even as Mulder claims, “I do not gaze at Scully,” the audience is rolling their eyes and making fanvids to prove him wrong. Even if you’re not into shipping, Mulder and Scully are clearly important to each other, and their bond is crucial to the show (and will also hurt your heart, trust me.)

Nope, no gazing here. None at all. Just super platonic work partners casually dancing together.

I could talk about X-Files further, but I’m sure you guys would rather start watching it. Seasons 1-9 are available on Netflix streaming, and the movies are available on DVD from Netflix or from our very own media library! I recognize that it’s a lot of TV to get through, but come on—who doesn’t love a good Netflix marathon session? It should be noted that the show can get kind of scary and gross at times, so if you would like forewarning on triggers and common fears, someone on Tumblr has written a really great and extensive guide that covers all the episodes and both movies, which you can find here. Please let me know in the comments if you’ve watched it or if you’re going to start, and maybe we can start a support meeting where we yell very loudly about how upsetting Mulder and Scully’s faces are and how ridiculous Krycek is at any given time. Best of luck, and remember—the truth is out there.

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