For female and male nerds alike, the names Mulder and Scully are synonymous with things that go bump in the night, and during this time of self-isolation, I found myself falling into holes filled with conspiracy theories and FBI cover-ups; and I could not be happier with my choice.  

In general, The X-Files is a fun, creepy and exciting show that has enough episodes to binge-watch for weeks on end. Since I started watching, I have looked to Agent Dana Scully (who is played by Gillian Anderson) as a role model for women in positions of agency. However, the more I thought about what to say about Scully, the more I began to ask myself whether she really was the perfect role model for girls with ambition, or if she was just the token female lead in a man’s world. 

The series opens with Scully being assigned to be partnered with Agent Fox Mulder (who is played by David Duchovny), from there the show follows her journey into Mulders world of alien abductions, mysterious men in trench coats and paranormal phenomenon as they take on the X-Files: the cases that the FBI deems “Unsolvable.” As a person,  Scully is the ying to Mulders yang, wherein despite her loyalty to logic and science, she is still open minded enough to entertain Mulders sometimes “out there” conspiracy theories. In this, she is portrayed as the one who keeps her head in the realm of reality, and always has her logical explanation to counter Mulders outlandish theory about the case.  Even though, more often than not: Mulder is the one who is correct to some degree, this could be a means to show Scully opening her eyes more, and expanding her willingness to “believe,” which is the overarching message of the series.  

Her personality is sharp, but curious, and even while in the face of events that are simply unexplainable, she yearns to still find the scientific and logical cause. Which is the opposite  to Mulder, who is more willing to think outside of the realm of natural possibility. It is clear from the beginning that she has the perfect personality to bring the infamous “Spooky Mulder” back down to earth from outer space (despite her being the first of the pair to experience an abduction).  

Throughout all 11 seasons of the show, Scully always remains driven by her values, her knowledge, and her drive to do the right thing. She is the embodiment of an independent and modern working woman, especially in a field (and genre) that is typically male-dominated. There are times where the audience are reminded that she has a life, in that she is shown to struggle to find a line between her work and the rest of her life, given her attempts to keep a healthy social life with her family, and to be open to the idea of dating, despite the slowly fermenting chemistry with her FBI partner.

My only criticism is that male characters greatly outnumber female characters, with Scully being the only female regular character throughout the majority of the series. There are also instances where Dana takes on the trope of a damsel in distress and needs to be saved by her male counterparts — however, what The X-Files does right about this aspect is that there are almost an equal amount of instances where her male counterpart needs to be saved by her, or it’s her logic that pulls through and saves the day. 

In summary, the X-Files does do justice to the theme of women as FBI agents in a genre that is typically dominated by powerful male figures and a male audience. Agent Dana Scully, in my opinion, is a figure for keeping true to herself in the face of issues that are simply unexplainable, and what I feel is best, is that she can do all that Mulder can do, and she can do it in heels.   

-Emily Rawle
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Get the LatestJoin our monthly newsletter

Sign up to hear about upcoming exhibits, projects + more!

Pin It on Pinterest