Blogging The X-Files
Posted on May 15, 2013
This content was originally posted in the summer of 2012. I got through the first season last summer before things got a little overwhelming. I’ll be returning to the series of posts this summer to see how much farther I can get, but first I’ll re-post the old content.
In high school, I was an X-Phile.
I started watching the show in 1997, when episodes were airing nightly on FX. I was a good Christian missionary back then, and I had it ingrained into my supple, evangelical brain that “things of the world” were bad, and that the X-Files was probably a thing of the world. My spiritual leaders had taught me that secular music and R-rated movies were a sin, so I definitely avoided those things at all costs. But despite having heard sermons about the evils of R-rated movies, MTV and Vh1, soap operas, REM (yeah, the band), and a handful of other fixtures in popular culture, no one had ever directly preached to me that watching The X-Files was sinful.
I let myself watch it, but mostly in secret. In case it was wrong.
I was fourteen, watching an episode from season two and an episode from season four every night. It was pretty difficult to get the story straight, but I loved it. I loved the tension between Mulder and Scully, loved the humor, loved the weird little stories. I even loved the ones about the occult, and it didn’t bother me to see Mulder and Scully go at it in their arguments about faith, God, belief, and doubt.
For a while I was pretty worried that my mom would find out I was secretly watching the show in the basement, and that’s why I slipped away every night around 8. Imagine my surprise when I finally screwed up the courage to watch an episode in the living room, and she liked it, too! In fact, so did my sister Karen, and eventually my little sister Sara, too. (I probably should have realized then that my parents’ version of fundamentalism was several steps less extreme than the fundamentalism I was being taught in youth group and on the mission field.)
Once I had the official parental okay, my love for The X-Files went from private to public.
I collected posters, action figures, calendars, books. I bought a hardcover book called The Unauthorized X-Cyclopedia, which indexed the first four seasons by episode, characters, themes, and places. I would put a new tape in the basement VCR every Monday and set the timer to record every night’s episode from FX. Then, during a long snowstorm in 1998, I went through my huge stack of VHS tapes, watched the first five minutes of every episode until I noticed a unique character name or location, looked up that reference in the X-Cyclopedia, marked the name of the episode on the videotape’s label, and got all of the episodes in order. (This would have been a lot easier with the help of the internet, but there is something kind of cute and quaint about a 15-year-old girl in basement during a week of snow days, nerdishly sifting through an encyclopedia ofX-Files episodes to organize her collection of VHS tapes.)
I posed with my X-Files collection for one of my senior photos. I drew a picture of Fox Mulder for an assignment in drawing class. I bought the show’s magazine from Suncoast whenever I saw it there. I discovered the awesomeness of the internet via fan websites, early versions of memes, and audio clip archives of great moments from the show. uring a missions trip abroad the summer that the first movie came out, I refused to let anyone spoil the film by telling me what I missed. The day after I got home from overseas, my sisters and I went to the Ski-Hi drive-in theater, the only place still showing the film, and I spent an hour and a half in X-Phile heaven and angst.
My love for the show stayed strong throughout the series’ run. Now that the show has been off the air for ten years, I have been revisiting old episodes.
I thought my blog would be a good place to chronicle my reactions to those episodes.What made me like them in the first place, when I was a good Christian teenager? Which episodes will stand up to time, and which will be wanti
ng? How would the episodes be different if they were filmed in the present and not 10-20 years ago? Might as well find out.
Note: This content is being published while I am out of the country, so my involvement in the comments may be limited until I return.