(Spoilers? Sort of?)
Guys. It’s happening. The X-Files is making its return to television. A wish I never even thought to ask for is coming true. It’s happening. I’m so excited.
Let’s back it up a little bit. The X-Files originally aired in 1993. I was three years old, and hopefully needless to say, I wasn’t watching The X-Files at that point in my life. All cards on the table: I didn’t actually watch The X-Files until I was twenty-two, which was not long ago, but when I fangirl I really throw myself into it.
I’ve been a fan of sci-fi and fantasy for a large part of my life, and as an ardent consumer of a lot of it since I was a kid, I’m glad that I waited until I was twenty-two to watch The X-Files. Unlike Star Trek: The Next Generation or Farscape, shows for adults that because of their tone and aesthetic can also be appealing to younger audiences, The X-Files is a show exclusively for adults. It starts out dark and only gets darker. It deals with personal loss, disturbing crimes, graphic scenes, and, as if that wasn’t enough, by Season 4, they throw cancer into the mix.
The very nature of sci-fi is to explore what it means to be part of humanity as it changes and grows into itself, an idea that Star Trek: TNG explores with progressiveness and gravity (pun obviously intended). The X-Files, however, explores what it means to be human in the modern day against forces bigger than ourselves–often in a visceral and uncomfortable way. Where other shows, like Firefly and even Battlestar Galactica, imagine elaborate future societies where humans embrace that they aren’t the only players in the universe, The X-Files asks us to consider our beliefs right now. “I want to believe” is probably the most appropriate tagline of all time; not only does Mulder want to believe, we do too. Like Mulder, we want to believe that we aren’t alone—not just in terms of aliens or the supernatural—but that there are people who care about us unconditionally, who will choose to fight on our side, who will believe in us when we aren’t even sure what we believe in.
While the sci-fi and supernatural element of The X-Files has remained fairly on point throughout the series and films (but seriously side-eyeing you, I Want To Believe), it’s really the human element of the show that keeps it relevant, beloved, and influential to subsequent shows (looking at you, Supernatural). I also think that’s why this mini-reboot will be successful.
The creators probably learned a lot from I Want To Believe, and now, bringing it back to its original form, television, and ending after six episodes, I think they’re probably minimizing their margin of error. As long as they focus on characters, make the X-File cases compelling and complex but not convoluted (easier said than done, I realize), I think the reboot should be fine. I have reservations: rebooting anything beloved by fans is a situation practically begging for inevitable disappointment, especially when it’s going to be a continuation after “a 13-year commercial break” rather than a total reboot à la J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. It’s also supposed to be “mind-bending” which is promising, as long as it isn’t some kind of baffling and fruitless wild goose chase, a line the show is usually, but not always, good about approaching but not crossing. With a healthy dose of Scully-esque skepticism, I think this is going to be good. I want it to be good. At the risk of sounding repetitive: I want to believe.