The X-Files: Just How “Familiar”?

For the most part, I’ve found the latest (and perhaps final, for realsies) season of the X-Files to be pretty darn good, those typically interminable Chris Carter episodes notwithstanding. I’ve even begun outlining a gigantic post about how the show was my first real fannish obsession, the show that taught me how to be a fan.

One of the things I’ve been appreciating about this season is its clear engagement with our current political, social climate. The original run of episodes, those that told us “The Truth Is Out There,” quite obviously represented the concerns and fears of creators who lived during Watergate and the Cold War. In a time when “the truth” and facts are easily dismissed as “fake news” while lies are defended as “alternative facts,” this season of the show has its characters respond accordingly–even the FBI itself is in the crosshairs of this administration.

This is why I struggled with “Familiar,” the episode from this week. I don’t know when it was written, though it sure looked cold when it was filmed, actors’ breaths visible. I wonder because I couldn’t help reading its metaphorical and literal witch hunt through the lens of #metoo. I’ve developed a pet peeve so peevish it borders on rage when “witch hunt” is evoked to describe the tide of accusations against men in power and to defend them. Of course, it’s not the first time the term’s been used in regards to men–McCarthyism comes to mind. But it’s the first time I’m familiar with where the “hunters” were women, and the “hunt” was global and revolved around misogyny.

“Familiar” also attempts to comment on contemporary concerns, but I struggled to interpret just which, specifically. Mulder associates “witch hunt” with a lack of due process or assumption of innocence, as when the sex offender is beaten by a police officer and crowd, then killed by that same officer. This has also been a criticism of #metoo despite the fact that most consequences accused men have experienced do not involve criminal charges where due process applies.

Later, the officer is let off easy by a judge, which Mulder predicts. One may think of the countless real world law enforcement officers similarly treated when accused of murdering black victims. The judge in the episode, btw, is black. So is the one officer not susceptible to the supernatural madness that has overtaken the town. I don’t know what to make of these representations.

The townsfolk are “taking the law into their own hands,” though the violence begins with a wrong that is not illegal (though cause for divorce) but a sin: marital infidelity. The wife wants to punish the other woman, then her husband. She calls upon a power she can’t control in order to do so instead of, what? Murdering them directly? Getting a divorce? What is the message here? Without a clear real world correlative, a bizarre, offensive response to #metoo is the only commentary I could take away, and the episode might even have been written before the movement.

Chris Carter didn’t write the episode, but I also couldn’t help but remember that time he and Howard Gordon were sued for sexual harassment by a woman who worked on the show.

I didn’t hate the episode. In many ways, it was the most reminiscent of a classic MOTW episode. It also gave us a Scully we haven’t seen as much of as late: the skeptic, scientist Scully, though she apparently still needs a man to defend her point of view when another man questions it.

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The X-Files: Just How “Familiar”?

My Recent TV Obsession(s): Westworld

This semester is so busy I haven’t had much chance to write about my biggest passion, TV. So, ahead of the season finale, here are the thoughts on Westworld I’ve jotted down week to week (and a few on another recent favorite, The Last Ship). Here be spoilers.

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My Recent TV Obsession(s): Westworld

Stranger (and Familiar) Things

Judging from user ratings and critics alike, I’m in the minority of those who think the new original Netflix series Stranger Things is just okay instead of the Coolest Thing Ever. Look at any review and you’ll find a handful of references to ’80s movies such as E.T., Firestarter, The Goonies, and Poltergeist. The problem is, the show doesn’t add up to much more than an homage to such films, a loving pastiche, but  a copy nonetheless. It’s like a cover song of an ’80s tune rather than a new song that uses ’80s sounds to make unique music. In our reboot culture, it’s somehow closer in tone and story to those films than an actual reboot with the same characters, despite the fact that the show’s story is original (in the most basic sense). Everything from the score and pop songs to the neon red title, promotional images, casting, and story elements is an ode to ’80s pop culture.

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Stranger (and Familiar) Things

Miss Jessica Jones

jessica-jones-header

(Forgive the silly title; for some reason, every time I watched an episode, the Rolling Stones’ “Miss Amanda Jones” came to mind, and then the movie Some Kind of Wonderful. It was a whole thing. #associations)

Some things to know about me that are relevant to these thoughts on Marvel’s Jessica Jones: The whole superhero explosion exhausts me. I’ve essentially abstained from watching the endless parade of adaptations and sequels, movies and TV both (the last superhero thing I willingly watched and enjoyed was Guardians of the Galaxy). Also, my reading of superhero comic book canon is light. You won’t see complaints about the show as an adaptation. Even if I did read more, I believe that every version of a text needs to work on its own as whatever it is (a book, a movie, a TV show, etc.). Easter eggs are cool; assuming my knowledge is not (nor the unnecessary crossover, as when Claire from Daredevil shows up).

One last thing: it’s not just–or even really–the saturation. It’s the lack of women superheroes put center stage.

When Jessica Jones arrived on Netflix, I thought, Okay, I could check that out. When I read it was not like other superhero fare, I moved it up the queue. When I quickly understood that it was TV noir, I was on fucking board.

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Miss Jessica Jones

Orange Is the New Black: Season 4

I’d been planning to write my thoughts on the newest season of Orange Is the New Black since I finished watching a few days ago, but my emotions are overwhelming my ability to coherently describe them. So, warning for possible incoherence, albeit of the best sort: fangirl feels with a side of thinky-thoughts.

This is my favorite season of the show, although the season finales are such that, even though season 3 wasn’t the best, that ending with the frolicking at the lake gave me such a high I forgot about any gripes I had.

SPOILERS AHEAD

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Orange Is the New Black: Season 4