The X-Files has never been a truly diverse show — in front or behind the cameras. And yet, it felt like this was the time, like we’ve finally gotten to a point where that could change, where our favorite show could provide, not just a badass female character for the ages and arguably the will they/won’t they relationship that defined what shipping meant, but – a truly inclusive, if not cast, at least writers room, that was able to tackle the complex and different subjects that being a human being in our world entail in this day and age.
That didn’t happen. The X-Files season 11 is, once again, the old boys’ club. And mostly an old white men’s club, at that.
So, I figured – why not bring in female superfans (and badass writers) to discuss Chris Carter, the show’s legacy, why the Season 11 writers are a misstep, and almost as importantly, whether Dana Scully is a feminist icon because of the show’s writers, or, in spite of them. Warning: We’re gonna get passionate, we’re gonna get real; and yes, we’re gonna get feminist.
Here we go:
Ahead of Season 10, Chris Carter used the reasoning that he didn’t want to disappoint the fanbase by delivering a show that felt too different as an excuse not to hire new, diverse writers. Do you think that reason holds up? How much of your desire to watch the show is pure nostalgia and how much is just wanting to see a good product? What is your response to CC in regards to this?
Shana (The TV Addict): Can I just write “lol, no” here? Because lol, no. If Chris Carter (Satan) didn’t want to have a different feel, he probably shouldn’t have changed his overly convoluted mythology to make it worse. And, I don’t know, maybe don’t break up two people who have been to hell and back together for….no reason? Just a thought.
Honestly, how much worse could new writers have made things like “Babylon” and “My Struggle II?” Come on now.
My desire to watch the show is probably 50/50 with the quality versus nostalgia thing. Sadly, even when Carter royally screws up, The X-Files is still better than a lot of stuff on television…I blame/thank Anderson and Duchovny for selling it.
Lynnie (Fangirlish): Hi, respectfully, fuck Chris Carter, and fuck this reasoning. The truth of the matter is that when you begin any conversation with a vague excuse of “purity” or “nostalgia”, you’re trying to paint in broad sweeps of lying to yourself and fans, hoping no one will notice your bullshit, cause no one ever calls you out on it, and it’s obvious to everyone but the networks. Good storytelling is good storytelling, and that storytelling means showing the world as it is, with the beauty of all people and all shapes. Showing the world as it is means having a writers’ room that reflects our diversity. Simple, easy. It’s not complicated, no matter how much white men seem to hem and haw over it like it’s a discussion that even needs to be deliberated on. The truth of the matter is that diverse writers’ rooms create better content, content that gets more money for networks, and probably would have prevented whatever season 10 was.
Anam (TVOvermind): My initial response to that statement was “What kind of misogynistic bullshit is this?!” That’s still my response today. I mean — give me a break! — good writers are good writers, regardless of how white and male they are. Hollywood has always played off ridiculous excuses to “hide” their sexist ways. This is just another example of it.
When the show was brought back for season 10, I’d say my interest was 80% nostalgia. I wanted to see my babies live on TV again. Now, it’s more 50% nostalgia, 50% wanting good TV. Back in the 90s, the definition of good TV wasn’t the same as it is now. There is so much good TV out there that trying to build a show off nostalgia isn’t going to cut it. That being said, this is still one of the good ones; and that’s 99% due to Gillovny.
Erin (Just About Write): It wasn’t a good reason then, and it’s not a good reason now. And his reasoning wasn’t even evident in Season 10. That was not The X-Files that I fell in love with, so what exactly was he protecting by not bringing in new and diverse blood? He didn’t want to disappoint the fanbase? Mmmkay. Season 10 was wholly disappointing to me. Granted, I, myself, am not the entire fanbase, but I know from conversing with others and reading reviews (from both men and women) that I am not alone in feeling that way. The Season 10 episodes written by Chris Carter were the worst of the bunch, so pardon me if I don’t exactly trust his view of what the show is or what it was, because we clearly have different opinions.
There is so much TV to watch these days that I want what I decide to spend my time on to be good. I was wary of Season 10, but I was so excited to have Mulder and Scully back. Most of my desire to watch the show was nostalgia, but I wanted to believe that it could be good television, as well. I’ve lost all hope in Season 11, so I will be tuning in purely for nostalgia’s sake and for Gillian and David.
Cherra (Black Girl Nerds): Seriously, what does that even mean? That kind of “reasoning” implies that new, diverse writers are inherently incapable of doing a good job, and that’s bullshit. He’s using shoddy reasoning to protect the status quo…and for what? The show was off the air for 14 years; I expect it to evolve and be different. Chris Carter needs to understand that different doesn’t necessarily mean bad and give fans more respect and credit than he’s giving. We can handle change.
My interest in season 10 was largely nostalgia. I was excited about the prospect of seeing some of my favorite characters back on TV again and didn’t really care much about the quality of the product. This time around, it’s probably closer to 50/50.
Mel (Black Girl Nerds): I picture these 90s big showrunners like Chris Carter, Aaron Sorkin etc. sitting around in a dark room, smoking cigars and patting each other on the back for being the best of the best. ‘What do you mean there’s a problem with women and minorities getting work’, one asks. ‘If they were good enough, they would be here too. So obviously they aren’t good enough,’ another answers. The room becomes an echo chamber of agreement. Nothing changes.
By nature of being a long running show, change is inevitable. Either you change or your show stagnates, loses viewers and is eventually cancelled. As a show, The X-Files changed and evolved over its 9 seasons. So change isn’t the problem. Change that takes them out of their comfort zone is. His reasoning never held up, but now we have a bigger platform to tell him just what we think of it. We have so many more options of things to watch now. Why would I want to watch 1997 The X-Files, now with better tech if not for nostalgia? I would tell Carter that if he wants his show to stay relevant, it’s time to make some big changes. Starting with his writing staff is the first step. You used the nostalgia card last season, it’s not going to work again.
Heather (Freelance): This is a terrible excuse and if you watch Season 10 it becomes apparent very quickly. It’s not 1993 anymore. And while some showrunners have managed to adapt, that was never going to be Chris Carter. Plus, think of how many writers grew up knowing and loving The X-Files. These voices are new, yes, but are also pretty much experts on the show. There was no reason not to bring in additional new writers.
I want to watch the show because I love it. And for that same reason, I want it to be good. Sometimes it seems like you have to love something 100% without criticism or else you get attacked online. Because I love the show so much, I want it to be the best it can be–and that requires change. Change is not bad and in this case it is needed.
Lizzie (Fangirlish): HA, NO. We wanted something that resembled the good The X-Files episode, Chris, we didn’t want to get transported back in time to the days where we had to suffer through episodes like “Fight Club” and “Jump the Shark.” Instead, we wanted more of “Memento Mori” and “Pusher.” Ironically, we wanted you to take us even further, to feel like all these years had passed but Mulder and Scully were still current. Sadly, the only way to do that was to recognize what went wrong the first time – the insistence on keeping Mulder and Scully apart, the mess of a conspiracy not even you could keep up with, WILLIAM, and to change that the only way you could – by bringing in new voices, new perspectives for a changing world.
But hey, you’re still holding on to your own definition of the word platonic, so maybe this was just expecting too much.
Once again, Season 11 will proceed with a predominantly white male writers room. Why is that a misstep for you? What message does it send and what do you think the show will lack because of it?
Shana: The message this sends is simple: We’re still stuck in the past, where we see zero problem with putting a bunch of men in charge of everything. Women’s voices don’t matter and/or there just aren’t any capable women writers from which to choose (bullshit). Men totally know all the things. Don’t worry your pretty heads on silly things like having a voice.
And the misstep is specifically the fact that this message is being sent. Not to mention, seriously?! It’s 2017! By not including the female voice, female characters and women’s interests are going to be just ever so slightly off. Even the best male writer on the planet will never really understand what it is to be a woman and therefore never totally represent us as well as one of our own would.
Lynnie: It’s more of the boys’ club, of men writing from a male perspective, and we have plenty of stories told in this way. What we have less of is inclusive stories that have multiple points of views. Hanging on to this idea of writing with only people who look and think like you is a misstep because the world is moving forward, no matter how much it scares those with privilege. It’s moving forward and people are starting to ask for more, to be included in the dialogue, and refusing to see it is tone deaf, ignorant, and harmful. Art should push the boundaries. It should represent. Yes, there is profit in it in the way we sell it to people now, but at its core, and at its most simple, it is about giving a voice, showing a point of view, inviting you into someone’s life. Not acknowledging that there’s more than one way to live drags us all back a step, and that’s not what we need from our art.
Anam: The message it sends is, “we’re misogynistic jerk-faces and don’t care because we’re giving you The X-Files, so tough.” Being a woman of color who is interested in screenwriting, this leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth because white men are still running the show in Hollywood. It’s 2017, and this is still a problem?! The world is changing; it’s time the powers that be in Hollywood follow suit and bring in new voices. As far as what the show will lack, I mean, there are so many things that you can read about all you want; but unless you’ve lived with those things, you’ll never truly get them. Men will never truly understand the struggles women go through and will never truly be able to write a female character like a woman would. Not to mention, the cast is pretty white washed; and they need to work on diversifying the output as well as the input.
Erin: It’s a misstep for so many reasons. It furthers the misogyny of the industry. It deprives the audience and large fanbase from diverse stories and points of view. We are at Peak TV now. The amount of outstanding shows that are on the air and streaming are a result of different stories being told and writers and directors challenging the norm. If Chris Carter wants to remain back in the 90s (or 50s or whatever), that’s fine, but he and his legacy will be left behind, choking on Peak TV’s dust.
Women — and especially women of color — have to work a hundred times harder to get opportunities, jobs, and chances to be heard. Adding three white men to the writing staff that have one professional credit between them (ONE!!), shows how privileged white men are. And not just in this industry. It’s an example of what happens in every single field. It sends a very sexist message—one that is not new coming from this show. Execs wanted Scully to walk behind Mulder when the show first aired. Gillian Anderson was initially offered half of what her co-star was offered for Season 10, and now this. The X-Files is continuing to set an example of backwards thinking and inequality.
Cherra: How many times are we going to do the same thing and expect a different result?It’s a misstep because it doesn’t allow for fresh voices and perspectives. It sends the message that women and POCs just aren’t as valuable or capable and we know that’s a lie. It keeps the talent pool stagnant and viewers are the ones who suffer for it. Representation is just as important behind the camera as it is in front of it and The X-Files needs some serious improvement in both cases.
Mel: I can’t imagine what a woman or person of color can add to a story about a character who is seen as irrational, an embarrassment and basically trouble. What can they add to a story about fighting against a system that lies to them, betrays them and does everything possible to see them fail?
There’s this implication in Carter’s explanation that hiring diverse voices will cause a significant and negative tonal shift for the show. There’s the implication that the fanbase is primarily white and male and want to see their show reflect that. It says to me that we want your views, support and money but we don’t want you in our world. It says to me that we would rather let this show stagnate and die than let anyone who doesn’t look and think like us into our club.
Science fiction has grown since The X-Files went off the air. Diversifying their writer’s room can only lead to richer stories that reflect the world we live in now. If there’s a government conspiracy, upper middle class white men are the last people I’m going to worry for. Last season felt old and not in a good way. Nostalgia shouldn’t be the reason I come back.
Heather: There is no excuse in 2017 to have a male-only writers room. It’s been talked about to death. So while it was probably again, unintentional, it’s unacceptable. Especially after Season 10 wasn’t well-received generally. There were so many issues. Had it been perfect, then there’s still no excuse but you’d be standing on better ground. Shows are better when there are diverse people and experiences contributing to them. Did they even look for other writers? Did they make an effort? I’m guessing no. Nothing against the three guys they hired, but there were diverse writers much more qualified and experienced who would’ve been better options.
Lizzie:I think the message it sends is that they don’t freaking care. And by “they,” I mean not just Chris Carter and the people that surround him, but FOX, networks in general, studios, distribution channels and a whole host of people at the top. Do I think it was intentional? No. Does that make it any better? Hell no. If you don’t even realize that what you’re doing is bad, that diversity is needed, that Scully’s story can only ever truly be told by bringing a woman into the writers room, then that just means you’ve been living under a rock or you actively don’t understand the world.
And hey, if either of those are true, then you have no business trying to write a TV show.
Let’s talk Dana Scully as a feminist icon – do you think that happened because of the writing or in spite of it? How much credit does Gillian Anderson get vs. the people who created Dana Scully? What has she meant to you and how do you think a more diverse writers’ room would have changed her portrayal on the show?
Shana: Being somewhat of a fandom newbie, I feel like I can only discuss what Scully could have meant to me, if only I’d watched The X-Files sooner: I would’ve felt a lot better about being the smart, nerdy type. I guess, honestly, that holds true even as an adult — but it would’ve been a more powerful message back when I was in school and being bullied for being Smart Girl. (No, really, people just called me that instead of my name…except when they were saying worse things.)
Scully also showed me that I can survive. Like, if Her Holiness Dana Katherine Christ Scully Mulder survived all the garbage Chris Carter put her through, I might get through the wreckage of my own life. A woman can be both smart and tough, both emotionally resilient and a perfect shot. All of this is such an important message to send to women everywhere.
But Scully’s “feminist icon” status? GIRRRRRRLSSS, it’s 100% in spite of the writing. I feel like The X-Files suffers from a certain…Ok, there’s no better way to put it, so here we go: Joss Whedon Syndrome. Chris Carter and company appear to be under the delusion that, just because they created a “strong female character,” they’re very feminist and have done their job; hence, they now get to do whatever sexist nonsense they want with zero consequences. This is a major, epic fail.
Yes, Dana Scully was a badass with a gun. More importantly, she was brilliant. The so-called “Scully Effect” is a real thing and definitely deserves to be commended…But then you have garbage like Gillian Anderson being offered far less pay than David Duchovny, even when the series came back for the season 10 revival. (See also: We can’t justify that second time away with Duchovny being more “established” because uhhh no.) Even worse, Anderson was asked to walk behind her costar in the beginning. That’s not feminism, and that’s not any creative team — writing or otherwise, really don’t care who gave the order when the writers obviously went along with it (sets are collaborative, or so I’ve heard) — intentionally bringing a feminist icon to its viewers.
A more diverse writers’ room definitely would have, you know, prevented Scully’s pregnancy from lasting forever. We might also have not had Scully return to a grueling job five minutes after giving birth. (Seriously, y’all.) And maybe there wouldn’t have had to be this bogus choice between work/safety and the miracle baby??? Not to mention, maybe the entire situation with Scully’s loss of fertility wouldn’t have constantly been just so…wrong. If I never hear the word, “barren” again, I promise I’ll be fine — actual fine, not “I’m fine, Mulder” fine — with that. I don’t know. Just a thought. I also feel like “Never Again,” might not have made me so angry with my queen if it had been written by women.
Lynnie: I have a feeling that if Dame Gillian Anderson played Scully the way the writers wanted her to exactly, we wouldn’t be talking about her now. There were aspects of the writing that was tropey, and aspects where she was the cold, emotionally repressed agent that the 1990s loved to drum up and give to us as the optimal working woman (distant, focused on work, feminist because she didn’t have children, etc.), but Gillian brought such vulnerability and strength and she defied these expectations. She understood our favorite skeptic, made her feel alive and less like a trope meant to prop up Mulder. Gillian was the feminist icon we needed, and we all felt it through Scully. Scully was quick witted, and used her brain, and what science could tell her to reach hypotheses, and that was rare for any show to provide, and it was through Gillian that I believed her – believed that I could be that smart and that able to outthink the boys.
I think a diverse writers’ room would have ensured that there were fewer instances of the tropey aspects we look at now and think “Dana was smart enough to save herself, why did Mulder need to show up?” etc. Also those moments where we thought, “Why is literally everyone white?” It would have taken what Gillian was giving us and doubled down on it, and it would have been glorious. Instead, we get whatever it was last season was meant to be.
Anam: This was totally because of Gillian Anderson. In the 90s, I doubt the creative team wanted her to play it off the way she initially did. They probably rolled with it after seeing the response they got, but this was Gillian. I’m sure if there was a woman writing Gillian, she would have been an even bigger feminist icon than she is today.
Dana Scully showed the world how badass a girl could be. She showed that your sex organs don’t need to dangle to go toe-to-toe with men…or aliens or whatever. Gillian took this character to icon status despite the sexist bullshit she had to deal with. Scully was a force to be reckon with. She still is. She stood strong on her own. Also, ditto to what Shana said about Chris Carter and Company thinking that one strong female gave them the feminist status. If you want to be a show that is celebrated for equality, study Shonda Rhimes’ work.
Erin: Yes, I 100% believe Scully is a feminist icon IN SPITE of the man that created her. It’s easy for a dude to create this idea on paper, check all of the boxes of what he thinks a strong female character is, and then think that he deserves the praise of women everywhere for doing so. Gillian breathed life into this character. She put so much more into her than Carter did. He admits to creating his dream girl in Scully. Well, sorry, I’m not inspired by some guy’s idea of the perfect woman. Scully inspired me because of how Gillian played her: with complexity and heart.
I don’t even want to think of the ways The X-Files would’ve been different if it had more women behind the camera. It’s too depressing. The whole thing with Diana Fowley would’ve been more interesting. Scully’s pregnancy would’ve been treated more thoughtfully. She might not have given up William at all. But even if a woman did write that plot line, I still believe it would’ve been handled better, along with the aftermath. I appreciate that it was discussed in Season 10, but it would’ve been nice for Scully’s perspective to have had the insight of a woman or even a woman that is a mother (gasp!) on the script page. Maybe it takes the sense of a woman to say that it’s not believable that Mulder and Scully broke up for bullshit reasons that aren’t even discussed. I don’t know if the male writers thought that was good storytelling or what, but I like to think an impassioned woman writer wouldn’t let that shit fly.
From what I gather from interviews, Chris Carter seems to have a touch of the God complex. He created the show, so I get it. But, great leaders know to delegate, and to listen to the ideas of others even if it differs from their own. I’m not saying that he should surrender this show that he put his life into (I mean, I wouldn’t be opposed to it, though, either), but hiring some women and people of color hardly constitutes giving up all authority. I do think he’s a talented director (“Triangle” is one of my favorite episodes); but it’s that his story ideas and writing skills are not what they once were. Staffing your writer’s room with accomplished people of all backgrounds would only strengthen the show. It’s disheartening that he doesn’t see that. The three new additions seems like a move from someone who wants to be catered to and agreed with, not challenged. One was his personal assistant, for God’s sake. If he wants to surround himself with yes men and guys that think exactly like him, great, but the show will likely stay creatively stunted.
I would also like to respond to the “but what about the women scientists that got story credit” argument. They helped provide accuracy to the science aspect of “My Struggle II.” One of my MANY complaints about that episode is that the story relied too heavily on the science. I think it’s commendable to base the science in the story on fact, but at the end of the day it’s still science FICTION. What grabbed me when I began watching The X-Files was not that the show portrayed the Southern blot procedure accurately, but about how Mulder and Scully dealt with her cancer. I was, and still am, invested in the CHARACTERS and the STORY.
Cherra: I think Gillian Anderson gets 100% of the credit for Scully’s status as a feminist icon, because the way that character was written sometimes…”eye roll* Gillian plays the role with a skill and understanding that gives Scully so much life. If Gillian Anderson can elevate Scully to this level with what she was given, just image the ways in which she could blow our collective minds with the material that would come out of a more diverse writer’s room.
The X-Files’ original run spanned from my early teens to my young adult days. As a science obsessed nerd girl, seeing Scully on that screen so unapologetically brilliant, confident, and strong was powerful imagery. She didn’t need to dumb it down or bow to anyone. I still appreciate that.
Mel: I give most of her success to what Gillian brought to the character. She was so young when she was cast in this role, as was her character. We got a chance to see her grow into this role as Scully grew into hers. There’s this idea of what a strong female character is supposed to be. She kicks ass, of course. She’s most likely cold, distant and mysterious, near perfect and above petty things like relationships. For an example, look to 80% of the character development for a certain redhead in a certain comic book movie franchise.
For me, a feminist icon should do more than kick ass and look good while doing it with no help or need for the pesky men-folk. Scully was incredibly intelligent, which was inspiring to see, and could take care of herself in a fight. Gillian brought vulnerability, emotion, and visible love and appreciation for the people in her life. No one forced Scully to stay with Mulder on his crusade. She chose to out of curiosity, loyalty, faith and love. The script gave the bones, but it was ultimately Gillian that made Scully into a fully realized character. When Scully spoke about her faith despite having no proof of it, I believed it because Gillian sold it through the way she said the words and her expressions. When Scully suffered, grieved, or looked at Mulder with that fond exasperated smile, it was Gillian that made it affect me so much, not the words on the paper.
With a more balanced writing staff we could have had more stories that focused on Scully and not her in relation to Mulder. I still believe “One Breath” is one of the best episodes of the series; but in the back of my mind, I’ve always wondered what if it was told from Scully’s point of view?
Heather: So much of who Scully is can be credited to Gillian. And while I also believe the writers can be credited with much of why we love Scully, there are some episodes (like “Milagro”) would’ve benefited from a different perspective. And even in Gillian’s episode “All Things” we see different aspects of Scully that we just didn’t get in any of the episodes written by men. It doesn’t mean they’re worse, just that it’d be nice to have additional experiences brought into the show.
Lizzie: IN SPITE OF IT is literally the only answer that fits here. Sure, Scully was a strong woman. She was written as such, but that wasn’t the only reason why Scully was a role model. I think Gillian absolutely made her a role model, and I think she did it by making Scully more than she was on the page, by making her real and approachable and like a person we could meet, and more importantly, a person we could BE. That’s not on the script — that’s in the acting.
Despite that, though, I felt like we got most of Scully from Mulder’s point of view, Skinner’s point of view and a random stranger’s point of view. We hardly ever got Scully through her own eyes. And in a way, I’m kinda glad, because boy, would that have been a shit-show considering that the writers room was never really diverse. But, for a show that was always meant to be not just about Mulder, but about two people, about two ways of seeing life, we only ever got one and then, by extension, that person’s interpretation to the other side.
It makes you wonder – with a more diverse writers room, does Scully give up William? Does Mulder leave? Do we get more than token latinx, Native American and black characters? Would The X-Files have been groundbreaking in many more ways? I’m gonna go with yes.
If you were in charge of hiring diverse writers for this writing room – who would you suggest and why? Give me your dream writers!
Shana: Oh, God. I have so many thoughts and ideas.
First up: Marilyn Osborn, Sara Charno, Kim Newton, Valerie and Vivian Mayhew, Jessica Scott, Gillian “No Fucks Given — I Will Drag Spill Truth Tea On My Own Show On Twitter” Anderson (aka — and a shorter name — NoChillian™): These are the female credits on the original series. If we’re going with Chris Carter’s (bullshit) line about wanting to stick with known writers or whatever? Bring these ladies back.
Now, for more fun stuff.
Bekah Brunstetter cowrote the season finale of American Gods, which (as I discussed here) was all about strong women. Bring her over. Now. Her episode, “Come to Jesus,” speaks for itself, so…Just go read about it and watch it. You’ll see.
Next up: Emily Andras of Wynonna Earp fame. Not only has she had some fabulous conversations on twitter about this entire situation; but when I say she’d be great at writing sassy, snarky, done with men Scully, I’m not even kidding. The way Wynonna quips her way through life, all while continuing to kick major demon booty? That’s so perfect for Scully, especially when she’s in Skepticus Maximus and/or Wtf Mulder mode. No, really, Andras and Gillian Anderson need to work together at some point or another, regardless. (The shipper name is almost too easy to bother with, but um…Andrason, anyone?)
Marti Noxon. To paraphrase her twitter bio, she ruined Buffy and WILL RUIN THE X-FILES TOO.
And finally, a shoutout to my best-worst frenemy and her bff: Dara Resnik and Terri Edda Miller both wrote some amazing Badass Beckett — and even more amazing Caskett — on Castle. They could put the R back in MSR on an epic level, and seeing them team up, given how much fun it is to watch them bff all over twitter? I mean, I’d be here for it…(I kinda ship it, ok?)
Lynnie: There are lots of wonderful people writing content who I respect, but I would really, really love to see new voices propped up and given chances to shine. Most of Hollywood has this idea of proving yourself first, without actually letting you prove yourself if you come from any state of being that is not white and male. They assume that white men have proven themselves, while everyone else is not qualified. It makes it hard to break into the business in a mainstream way. Giving fresh screenwriters a chance is everything. It allows them to bring in new blood, new life, new vision into the series, and would make one hell of a difference to our representation. It would also launch the careers of some people who’d probably make things later on that we’d all be squealing about for real. So hire me some LGBTQIA voices, some disabled voices, some POC voices, some female voices, ALL THE DIVERSE VOICES – anything but what’s currently happening!
Anam: Shonda Rhimes and her writing staff. This woman is an evil genius and has mentored so many wonderful writers to go out and create shows that showcase diversity and badass women. She has given the spotlight to women, people of color, LGBTQIA, the disabled, etc. Anything that is highly controversial, that most writers shy away, from she dives into head-on and has made it work. Not to mention, four hit shows within a decade is incredible — to say the least. Anyone she has mentored would have been a great addition.
Marti Noxon would have been a great addition. Doris Egan, who wrote some incredible episodes of House. Diverse people from different walks of life. New writers that are just getting their feet wet and will become the great writers of tomorrow. So many opportunities, so much potential, and they went with an all-male, predominantly white, writing team? Fail.
Erin: Gillian, obvs. I loved the lead character in her Earthend Saga novel series, and she’s also proven herself on The X-Files with “all things.”
Kerry Ehrin, co-creator of Bates Motel, would be rad. I doubt it’s an easy thing to write a complicated character like Norma Bates, but she achieved that. She took on source material from The Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, so I’m pretty sure she could handle something Chris Carter created.
Also, Moira Walley-Beckett, creator of Anne with an E and writer on Breaking Bad.
And since Gillian brought it up, I’m going to list some directors: Lesli Linka Glatter would kick ass. She has so many phenomenal episodes of television in her credits. Floria Sigismondi directed the beautifully epic season finale of American Gods, and Jennifer Phang directed a fantastic episode of The Exorcist.
Cherra: GIVE. NEW. VOICES. A. CHANCE. That’s all I want. There are so many talented people out there that just aren’t getting the chance to create and compete on the level they deserve to be on. People like R. Shanea Williams, Lauren Warren, Valerie Complex, and Nikyatu Jusu are just a few of the people I’d like to see get larger budgets and platforms to work with.
Mel: I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Monica Owusu-Breen for my podcast (Nerds of Prey) and I think she’s amazing. She’s currently writing for Midnight, Texas and her credits include Alias, Fringe and Agents of Shield. She should get a chance based on Fringe alone. Jane Espenson is another great choice. She wrote for Buffy and Battlestar Galactica! She should get a season. Can Octavia Butler write a script? I would love to see that. I would also love to see my co-host, Lauren Warren, get a shot. She would have that X-Files essential feel, add in some creepy elements to plot that makes you think and probably throw in a fitting soundtrack.
Heather: There are so many! My fellow writer Carly Lane and I asked people to send suggestions on Twitter and there were so many qualified and amazing names. My friend Britta Lundin is a huge fan of The X-Files and writes on Riverdale right now, so I think she’d be in my dream list for sure. There’s also a more comprehensive list of writers and directors we came up with as suggestions on Syfy Wire’s Fangrrls.
Lizzie: I wanna not just agree with Gillian, because duh, Gillian, I literally want to say YES to all the lovely choices above, because for me, it really isn’t about this person or that person. Yes, there are many writers I love, but I think what I’d love the most is for different people to get a shot. People I’ve never heard from, talented writers who might not have gotten a chance somewhere else, many of whom grew up on The X-Files and learned romance from Mulder and Scully. I feel like there’s plenty of people in TXF fandom who’d do these characters justice.
Finally – what do you want from The X-Files season 11? Will you still be watching in spite of this news? Is it possible for the show to deliver a product that is consistent with the times if the diversity just isn’t there?
Shana: I’ll watch in spite of the news because Gillian Anderson owns me I’m invested in these characters and this story. It’s possible to still deliver a good story, but I’m not overly optimistic at this point, especially after whatever happened with the mythology in season 10.
In season 11, I really just want Scully to get the closure she deserves. Fixing that mess of a new mythology would be great, too. Also, Mr. and Mrs. Scully-Mulder need to definitively reconcile — none of that “subtle” stupidity.
Lynnie: Man, I got shows to watch that actually care about diversity, you know? I can’t support a product that clearly admits to disliking me and my concerns, so…byyyyeeeeeeee!
Anam: Yeah, I’ll still be watching because I’m here for Giillian and David. I mean, I hope they deliver a good product. Wasting time on a show that turns out to be shit is sucky. So here’s hoping that they do it justice. If they don’t they’re the ones that are going to suffer because TV these days is not like it was 90s. There is way more quality TV out there and the competition is extensive.
Erin: I will be watching. Mostly because I watch anything that Gillian is involved in. (I watched all of Crisis, for Christ’s sake.) I love Duchovny, too. David and Gillian made the show so special despite all the stupid shit Chris Carter pulled, and that is still there for me. I have ZERO confidence in the show being great television, though. All hopes of that went down in a fiery UFO crash in Season 10. I don’t think it’s possible to deliver a quality product with this group of writers. Darin Morgan, Glen Morgan, and James Wong were all writer/directors on Season 10, and they are back for Season 11. In case you missed it, I did not like last season, so the fact that they are back doesn’t inspire much assurance.
It’s just a tragic situation. You love something so much, and it feels like someone is set out to destroy it just because they can. All I hope is that this is the last season because I can’t take the stress and heartbreak again. I don’t even care if he ends it in some bullshit cliffhanger or splits up Mulder and Scully for good. Carter has ruined the canon of the show for me since Season 8, but I still have MSR and the characters I love in my heart.
And there’s always fan fiction.
Cherra: I’m here for Gillian Anderson, so I’ll be watching. I hope they can still deliver a good product, but I’m not particularly optimistic. I wasn’t pleased with season 10 after the nostalgia wore off. I just hope there’s some improvement and resolution in season 11.
Mel: Confession: I still haven’t finished the last season. It’s hard watching a show you loved turn into something that is boring at best. I love to watch Gillian. But after seeing her in The Fall, Hannibal and now American Gods, current The X-Files isn’t looking so well in comparison. I probably will watch it, but I won’t be in a hurry. I’ll wait for the reviews. As for season 11 wishes, I don’t trust the writers to do right by any of them so no need to hope. I just want it to not suck and be something I’m at least 40% looking forward to.
Heather: I will 100% be watching The X-Files when it returns for Season 11. What I want is for the show to wrap up and give a satisfying conclusion. I don’t need fanservice but can we get like an actual ending?! And maybe some more of Mulder and Scully in the same room/scene? More stand-alone episodes and let’s have a little fun. It’s possible to achieve a great TV show without diverse writers. If that wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t have many of the shows we love today–including The X-Files. But until the industry realizes what diverse and unique voices can bring to shows we already love, it’s still an uphill battle to gain representation. Also, can we get Gillian a better wig or let her just be blonde thanks.
Lizzie: I don’t think it can be truly satisfying, I don’t think it’ll make any more sense, I don’t think we’ll get the happy ending or beginning or middle or whatever that we (and Mulder and Scully) deserve, but, at the same time, I can’t not watch. It’s Gillian and David. I’ll watch. I’ll just watch and judge in a way I still can’t bring myself to do with most of the original run of episodes.
What do I want? Honestly, the only thing I want is for all of this to make more sense than it did the last six episodes, for the conspiracy not to get any more convoluted, for the William mess to be resolved, once and for all, and yes, for Mulder and Scully to go at it for like, weeks. They’ve earned it.
Hell, we’ve earned it.
An aside, a conclusion, or both of those things:
Joy (TVoverMind): When I heard about uproar about season 11 of The X-Files not having any women in the writers’ room, I just rolled my eyes. This is Chris Carter’s show. Honestly, is anyone surprised? This is same show that, for years, showed total disdain for the amazing relationship dynamic that the show has. As soon as I heard that Carter was splitting up Mulder and Scully for season 10, I knew he hadn’t changed. He spent years twisting and contorting the story into knots to avoid having to deal with the obvious — and he’s still doing it.
Carter has always wanted his conspiracy theories to be the driving force of The X-Files, but they never were. They were really the playground for these two characters to be drawn together as they challenged each other’s perspectives. Furthermore, those characters worked — even when the writing didn’t — because of the actors.
I’ll echo what the women of this roundtable have said. If you take away either Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully or David Duchovny as Fox Mulder, you don’t have a show. (Hence the idea that they offered Anderson half of what they did Duchovny is…jaw dropping.) No one is interested in a mythology for mythology’s sake. Just ask anyone who suffered through seasons eight and nine or tried watching the spin-off “The Lone Gunmen.”
I’ve written before about The X-files and Carter’s anti-shipper stance and how the show suffered because of it. However, I don’t think I’ve ever really gotten into how that stance reflects a disdain for the feminine perspective. It’s a societal issue, one that is seen in sharp relief in Hollywood. It’s even more so in geekdom. One only has to look at the mess of 2014’s “gamergate” to understand this.
In terms of relationship development in television shows, it’s historically been painted as the kiss of death. Maybe that’s because men tend to be focused on the chase, while women are focused on the partnership? Psychologist Vikki Stark, who has 30 years experience as a marriage counselor states:
“Women go into marriage for the marriage. Men go into marriage for the woman.”
I’m not sure how much of this is innate and how much is our social construct. There’s a 2015 Gallup poll on the different opinions men and women have on sex and relationships. Its conclusion is that men and women hold similar views and the differences are a matter of degree.
Nevertheless, those differences in degrees fill U.S. culture with ideas that the job of men in relationships is to complain about “the old ball and chain.” In entertainment, men are often portrayed as the one who doesn’t want a relationship. Likewise, movies that are about romantic relationships get dismissed as “chick flicks.” Are things changing? Hopefully. After all, we have Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman, however, hasn’t changed Chris Carter. The female perspective on how relationships shape day-to-day life — even if that life is fighting a vast government conspiracy about aliens — has never been valued by him. It’s all about conspiracy theories. That’s why he fought tooth and nail to keep Mulder and Scully platonic long past the point where it made sense. He sees Scully and Mulder’s relationship as a secondary distraction to whatever mythology he’s doing instead of an equally important interwoven thread.
So long as Carter sees things that way, he’s not going to care about having the insights and perspectives of women writers. Furthermore, so long as the show does well, he and the Hollywood executives watching the numbers will continue to believe that his approach is right. After all, it’s his show and his creation.
The above paragraph leads me to answering your last question regarding watching season 11. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Once I realized Carter hadn’t changed his stance on Mulder and Scully’s relationship, I didn’t even bother with season 10. There are other projects I can enjoy and support these actors in.
Agree? Disagree? Have some thoughts about who you’d want in The X-Files writers room, if it were up to you? Share with us in the comments below!
The X-Files is expected to come back for Season 11 in 2018.