"The X-Files" Season 11 premiered in a new era politically and socially, and while it seemed to benefit from one -- the Trump administration -- the other wasn't so kind.
After the #MeToo movement exploded in 2017, there is a greater awareness and sensitivity to the roles of women in entertainment, and suddenly the casual misogyny of years past is being scrutinized with fresh eyes. Those eyes fell on series creator Chris Carter's latest twist involving Gillian Anderson's Dana Scully and decided they'd had enough.
The character has been put through the ringer for years on the show, having already been forcibly given cancer, abducted more than once against her will, and had two children taken away. The final straw for some fans, though, came when the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) revealed that Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) is not the father of her child, as everyone had believed for years.
Instead, he claimed that he was the father, having impregnated Scully via science, despite a creepy flashback to Season 7 where she was drugged, disrobed and woke up on a bed. Carter qualified CSM's claims, telling Entertainment Weekly, "He's the figurative father if he's not the actual father. He didn't rape Scully. He impregnated her with science."
No matter how Carter wants to frame it, that's not how it was presented in the episode and so fans took to social media based on what they saw to decry that Carter added rape to the long list of Scully's suffering.
I'm absolutely disgusted that apparently my favorite show doesn't have the common decency to recognize that medical rape is still rape — not a plot device to toy with viewers. Shame on you, Chris Carter. It's 2018, not 1995. #TheXFiles
X-Files fans: hey, Chris, we really like your show but Scully's already been through a lot can you maybe tone down her suffering a little it's gotten really misogynistic Chris Carter: #TheXFiles pic.twitter.com/O1SJMfhXpf
So, in 1 hour, Dana Scully had a medical emergency, left the hospital & was in a serious car crash, returned to the hospital & was smothered with a pillow & nearly choked to death, & lastly, her child was the result of rape & Mulder isn't the father? #TheXFiles 👽 pic.twitter.com/51bkLf6CkZ
You do realize that up to season 8 Scully had still been taken and medical procedures had been forced on her? It also happened to other woman on the show. Are you so naive to think that this is a new concept for X-files? Where was the outrage when they medically gave her cancer?
So then where was your outrage in season 3 when it was revealed that they did experiments on her? In season 5 when we found out they created a child then took her away? What about when they gave her another child just to take that one away too?
It is more that he uses Scully's body as a plot device time and again. This reeks of old habits and I'm not pleased with them. Scully went from saving the world with science to rape victim in the hospital with this episode. Not cool.
In a lot of ways, this seems to be the real problem for many fans. They've invested 25 years now in the characters of Mulder and Scully, and like many a classic television duo, that investment has come with them assuming, believing and desperately wanting the pair to wind up together happily ever after. Carter gave them that a few times along the way, most recently in the 2008 film, only to yank the rug out from under them.
Of course, television tradition says that a happy couple is a boring show. When Season 10 began, Mulder and Scully were again estranged and living separate lives. That remains the case in Season 11, so a part of the outcry is simply frustration that the fans aren't getting what they want. Even worse, they're now being told that Scully's baby is actually Mulder's half-brother ... which is pretty disturbing. But then again, "The X-Files" is supposed to be disturbing.
No matter how you feel about the Cigarette Smoking Man revelation in the premiere, there is still a legitimately voiced concern that Scully is too often cast in the role of victim on this show and too often used as a plot device despite being one of its primary protagonists and heroes. It might be easier for fans to swallow if there were some parity with Mulder's character suffering the same number of abuses and indignities over the year, but it just hasn't happened ... and still isn't happening.
For that, Chris Carter and "The X-Files" are being asked to take a long, hard look at themselves and ask why, and if that's still okay in 2018. The fans have already voiced their opinion.