No show in the ’90s freaked me out quite like The X-Files. The opening theme music alone could send me fleeing from the room lest the synthesized whistling worm its way into my brain and induce nightmares. But cowering in the kitchen with the sound muted was worth it to watch Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) seek out the truth, no matter how weird.
Of course, everything old is new again. The X-Files returned last year in a limited run that met with mixed reviews. But it was a ratings success, so it’s no surprise really that Fox announced months ago they were picking the series up for an 11th season. With the popularity of Stranger Things and the resurgence of Twin Peaks, it seems audiences are hungry for more creepy nostalgic throwbacks. But unfortunately for Fox, that nostalgia for the bygone days of the late 20th century doesn’t apply when it concerns behind the scenes hiring practices. When Indiewire reported the writers’ room for the 11th season of The X-Files would be all men, the internet promptly raked The X-Files over the coals.
Fans of the show were disappointed, but not surprised. As Nerdist pointed out, The X-Files have always had a bad reputation of being a boys’ club. Out of 202 episodes, only six women ever got a writing credit on the show, including Gillian Anderson. Two more women were included when writing the 2016 revival, which looked to be a step in the right direction until the recent news. Now the press surrounding The X-Files writers’ room has crescendoed, with star Gillian Anderson weighing in.
Those two female directors? Michelle MacLaren (Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad) and Gillian Anderson. Now, I’m not saying Fox has a PR problem with The X-Files right now. I’m just saying that when your lead — who has publicly fought for the right to be paid as much as her male counterpart — wades into the equality fray, maybe it’s time to reevaluate how you hire your writers and directors.