Friend: “Did you see the pilot episode?”
Me: “Oh yeah, it was amazing.”
Friend: “I thought the chimp body in the coffin was really scary!”
Me: “Yeah me too.”
This was my very first conversation regarding The X-Files. I had no idea what The X-Files was, I had no idea what a ‘pilot episode’ was. I thought it must be an episode about a pilot. Seems legit.
It was the ‘one to watch’ programme and I didn’t want to be the one kid who didn’t watch it, even though it sounded terrifying, was on at 9pm on Sunday, and I was in Y6 (11 years old). I got home that day and told my mum all about it and begged her to let me watch it that coming Sunday: I wasn’t disappointed. I think my journey started with ‘Squeeze’. You can’t get a much better episode to be your own personal pilot episode!
Mum was worried I’d have nightmares and never sleep with the light off again; how wrong she was! I was hooked. It became the last ray of weekend light before school again on Monday; it also became a great bargaining tool for the parents. It was The X-Files then bed. So, it became the reason I got in the bath when I was told, the reason I didn’t leave my homework till the last minute, the reason I made my bed in the morning…
I loved being able to join in conversations with my best friend about our new favourite show; we bought T-shirts, made our own collages, got loads of merchandise for Christmas and birthdays… I do remember my auntie questioning my mum’s decision to let me watch it:
“Isn’t that a bit scary? It’s all monsters, and blood, and aliens…”
Yeah it is! That’s what made it amazing! It was all make believe told in a real life way; you didn’t have to be scared because you knew they weren’t real. It was the greatest escape into your imagination.
Anyway, how could you be scared when you knew that the two greatest heroes would save the day? The two most amazing adults in the world! Dana Scully became my heroine, my idol; Fox Mulder became the first boy I ever fancied. It was perfect; perfect episode after perfect episode.
Obviously, looking back, there are some pretty shaky episodes in series one, definitely not all perfect! In my opinion, ‘Fire’ is the worst episode of the entire canon (‘Babylon’ is a close second: don’t get me started!) ‘Beyond the Sea’ blew me away, and it still remains one of my favourites, probably top ten. Luther Lee Boggs also makes my top ‘monster’ list: amazing acting from Brad Dourif. I remember it being the episode when I really fell in love with Mulder and Scully and really began to care about what happened to them. Of course, as a kid, I also really wanted them to get together: I think they became my generation’s Scott & Charlene.
The love for this ground-breaking series followed me all the way through secondary school; it formed major parts in science projects, prose writing, and Scully became the reason that I started dying my hair red with semi-permanents at age 13 and carried on with permanents all the way until about a month ago: almost 10 years! I was, and still am, one of those people that can’t believe that there are some people who have never seen it, or have seen it and don’t love it. It became a bit of a mission to convert non-believers: this culminated this year with finally getting my boyfriend to watch all 9 series, and now he loves it too! Series 10 is on the cards.
Throughout the years, one thing has remained constant for me: Scully is the greatest character (possibly in any TV show EVER) and Gillian Anderson is an absolute legend. I love that woman. I loved Science at school: all the dissections, experiments and wearing the white coat. I always pretended I was Scully and some possible major disaster hung on me mixing my bases and acids properly. When I was dissecting a liver, I pretended it belonged to a suspected alien, or had been recovered from Tooms’ lair…
Then, as an adult, I became a teacher (English, not science) and I saw how between the ages of 11 and 15, girls started to lose a love of science. They stopped looking forward to experiments, to making volcanoes with baking powder and vinegar, to throwing small bits of magnesium into water… what was happening? It was then that I became aware of the ‘Dana Scully effect’: the increase in women and girls pursuing STEM subjects at school and University in the 90s/early 00s. I think that says it all. A character so amazing that she inspired young women to follow their passions, and change the world, even though they might have been told that it wasn’t ‘feminine’ (I’m going to blog about this at another time).
Oh, and can we take a minute to bathe in the glory that is Stella Gibson? Wow. Is this possibly the greatest example feminism around at the minute?
Gibson: “That’s what really bothers you isn’t it? The one-night stand? Man f*cks woman. Subject man, verb f*cks, object woman. That’s okay. Woman f*cks man. Woman subject, man object. That’s not so comfortable for you is it?”
It’s Wednesday 28th September today and series 3 of The Fall starts tomorrow. I can’t wait.
For me, The X-Files will always be my favourite ever TV show, starring my two favourite actors in my favourite roles. It’s only by re-watching the whole series recently that I can see how much it affected my teenage life. I love it and I always will, even the really bad episodes with the really bad special effects. Series 10 wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea; it certainly wasn’t mine, but roll on series 11!
Sam Turton will be a regular contributor to the blog. You can find her on Twitter @yorkshireramble.