How Gay Do You Want Your "X-Files"?

Fox Dramas have a complicated history with gay stuff dot tumblr dot com. Fox Comedies like Glee, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, or even the long-running Simpsons have sparkling LGBT track records. Yet the network’s dramas edge slightly more toward their news department: either we’re nonexistent or there’s actively troublesome depiction like in the famously conservative 24, in which a Season 2 senator’s gay son accidentally exposes America to terrorism via boudoir. But what of Fox’s Alpha drama, The X-Files, which just scored a six-episode mini-series return?

The few times X-Files stepped into explicit LGBT territory were M E S S Y. The most egregious example is in the 2008 film I Want to Believe, a project so dismal and forgotten it could be easily forgiven as non-canon. In the movie, the non-supernatural kidnapper antagonists turn out to be a reclusive gay couple hellbent on transplanting one of the men’s heads onto a female victim’s body. It’s like the creative team watched Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs and said, “NOT DISQUIETING ENOUGH.”

My favorite “bitch, PLEEEZ” dialogue is when one of the agents (blissfully not Mulder or Scully) lets his team know the kidnappers were “married in Massachusetts” with an eyebrow so cocked it flies off his scalp and lands with a soft plop on the ceiling.

So X-Files isn’t stellar on teh gay boys or trans people, so don’t expect these new episodes to venture into that territory; they’ll just butterfinger it and land in a Tumblr Honeypot. And we already have a gay boy X-Files; it’s called Teen Wolf. Much like Teen Wolf features little to no gay men yet traffics in hardcore gay sensibility, so does X-Files travel in a lesbian appeal without featuring any explicit lesbians.

Laurie Holden, Mimi Rogers, Annabeth Gish, and the grand dame herself Gillian Anderson each came packing in suits, severe haircuts with a pomade slick, and enough eye-rolling to power future generations of GIFs. They were no one’s Girl Friday, filmed in a sensible light that refreshingly never smacked of The Male Gaze. The show’s rare tonal slip-ups in its early seasons always involved Scully’s imperiled fate in the hands of Mulder. Our agents shone best when it was Scully as Mulder’s savior. These decisions are ultimately up to Chris Carter and not gay-faves Anderson and Duchovny, so my only gay wish for this revival is to stick with the gay appeal it knows best.

The one good thing I Want to Believe gave us was it set up this new season (Season X if you will!) to cut the fat and head straight back to Season 1-era skepticism. Scully and Mulder are no longer hunted by the FBI for whatever those silly Season 9 shenanigans were; Samantha Mulder is no longer a topic; William Scully is out of the picture; and Gillian Anderson, of whom I’ve discussed my standom for exhaustively elsewhere, has only aged deeper into an ice-cold diamond I can’t look away from. Harness her newfound power, show gods! Take her humoring of Mulder back down to absolute zero.

adammichaelsass's picture
on March 26, 2015

ADAM SASS begins all his writing in Sharpie on dozens of Starbucks pastry bags. This may cause him to be late making your cappuccino, and he sincerely apologizes. His Writer’s Digest award-nominated story "98% Graves" appeared in the anthology STARTLING SCI-FI: NEW TALES OF THE BEYOND. He lives in New York City with his husband and two dachshunds.

Find Adam at AdamSassBooks.com, his pop culture writing at GeeksOut.org, or keep up with him on his (over)active Twitter @TheAdamSass.