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“You disparage Scully?”
“Who?” my wife asked.
“Gillian Anderson, she was Scully on The X Files,” I said.
“You mean that gross show?”
My wife is not wrong, “The X Files” was often gross. In fact, it was downright disturbing at times. In retrospect, it was also pretty badly produced, often poorly acted, and occasionally made no sense. None of that matters to me. I’m sentimental about “The X Files” and it has nothing to do with the quality of the show. It holds a special place in my heart because, despite its flaws, it was always there for me.
It may or may not surprise you, but I was kind of a dork in high school. I wasn’t smart enough to be an academic nerd, or geeky enough to be a comic-book nerd; I was more like 50 percent dork. I played some team sports, but I also founded a photography quartet called The Phototards. I had a few girlfriends but never attended a homecoming or prom. Some weeks I went out on Friday night, but on others I found myself sitting alone in my room with nothing to do. It was on those nights, friends, that “The X Files” came to the rescue.
Credit the program schedulers at Fox for nailing their target demographic: single guys stuck at home on Friday nights. I wasn’t a loser, but I sure felt like one sometimes on Friday until 9 p.m. when Scully and Mulder showed up, a welcome distraction from ponderings over pretty girls I didn’t have the courage to ask out all week. It was a far better option than watching “Step by Step” or “Dateline” with my mom — at the time anyway. No offense, Mom.
We didn’t find Scully attractive; it wasn’t about that at all. Mulder was a dork — like us — and Scully was right there with him, no condemnation, no judgment. She was all action in muted dialogue with zero sex-appeal. The last thing we needed on those nights was to see people having fun. No, we needed to see Scully crawling under a dilapidated shed with her Glock 9mm, ready to double-tap some mysterious creature a second before it sank its teeth into Mulder. Scully never knew what was going on, but she knew how do deal with it, and we adored her.
Gillian Anderson, the actress who played Scully, eventually went on to other things. The last thing I saw her in was the BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. She was a fine Lady Dedlock according to my wife, but I don’t recall her knocking the doors off the role. I also see on IMDB she played Miss Havisham in Great Expectations but I haven’t seen it. For all I know she may deserve awards for her post-“X Files” work; I’m the wrong person to ask. But in my book — and I dare say for many guys of my generation — she will forever be respected as Scully, who was there for us when we needed her, not as a shoulder to cry on (Scully wasn’t “feely” like that) or a form to objectify (Scully would have punched you in the jaw), but as a rock.
Scully reminded us that sometimes the week doesn’t go as planned, resulting in a bunch of messed-up situations, and if we’re not smart she’s gonna have to bail us out again next week. It’s almost as if Scully would tell us, “Man up. Get off your duff and make a better choice. Do something better with your time.”
But if we didn’t, Scully was always there for us.