X-Files revival less than welcoming to a new generation

x-files revival

The X-Files is one of those shows that has such a strong following that anyone even mildly invested in pop culture is familiar with its world and characters by sheer cultural osmosis. It’s impressive that this notoriety persists today, considering the show’s final episode of its ninth season aired May 19th, 2002, more than ten years ago. But after more than a decade off the air, The X-Files will be returning to television on January 24th, 2016, with a new miniseries and the first episode was aired for thousands of fans in attendance at New York Comic Con this year, myself included.

While I waited for the screening to start, I reflected upon what I actually knew about the series. As a geek in her early-to-mid twenties, I completely missed out on the original run of X-Files; by the time I was old enough that it was age-appropriate for me to watch, the show was off the air. I had never found the time (or, perhaps to be more honest, made the effort) to actually watch the show since its nine seasons and two movies were a pretty ambitious and overwhelming undertaking. The 202 44-minute episodes and two feature films would take over six days to watch in their entirety, and that’s without stopping to sleep, eat, or go to the bathroom. The sheer size of the series means I cannot be alone, though I’m certain there are still some people in my age range that have seen some if not all X-Files. But via that cultural osmosis I experience as a geek, I knew that the show was about two FBI agents, a sceptic and a believer, Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, Scully and Mulder, and that together they investigated paranormal phenomenon and had a lot of sexual tension. There was also a poster. Or something. Perhaps naively, I assumed this would be all I needed to know to enjoy this up-coming miniseries. Unfortunately, I left the screening disappointed.

While my basic understanding of the show’s premise and characters were invaluable for certain, they were far from enough. I felt like I had watched a very late episode of a long running show I had never seen but maybe perused a Wikipedia article of. In fact, that is exactly what had happened but was far from what I expected. Unfamiliar characters were left un-introduced and would often remain nameless for several scenes. I expected a show that was making a return after a decade long hiatus to put some effort into making the new miniseries welcoming to a generation of fans unlikely to have seen past seasons. And to be frank, I can’t wrap my head around why they didn’t.

Surely it would have been possible to be a bit more generous with the exposition in a way that would not have bored life-long fans to tears. Although perhaps the writers thought they did include enough exposition for a potential new audience, but failed by over-emphasizing certain points and completely forgetting others. More likely, though, it seems that to give dedicated fans that “true” season ten feeling, they elected to pick up right where they left off as if nothing ever happened and severely handicapped their potential to bring in a new audience. Hindering their ability to appeal to almost half of the coveted 18 year-old to 30 year-old market may end up being a fatal flaw.

Hopefully the nostalgia appeal will bring in the ratings enough for X-Files fans to get what they want out of the return of the series. However, I anticipate a major drop in the audience after the first episode airs when new viewers feel total loss and confusion. Personally, I’m disappointed I won’t be able to enjoy the new series.

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Genevieve LeBlanc
Genevieve LeBlanc 126 posts

Genevieve LeBlanc is a contributing writer for NerdReactor.com and lives in snowy Canada.