Everything I need to know, I learned from Dana Scully
I grew up with FOX (the channel, not the news). My family never had cable; we had a television set that we stuck a coat hanger in, as if we were from some ancient generation. We could only get a few shows on TV, and they were (luckily and unluckily?) all FOX shows.
That’s why I have a lot of love and knowledge about FOX shows, and I don’t just mean The Simpsons and That ’70s Show (but those programs are definitely in my mind and heart forever). But I mean, like, other shows, such as Boston Public (my love for Rashida Jones is deeper than all y’alls) and The Tick. Anyone who knows anything about television knows that X-Files also belongs to FOX, which means my brothers and I threw it on whenever we could. Plus, it was syndicated on Sunday afternoons, so I would catch it then and watch the truth being discovered and so on and so forth.
But I was not an X-Phile, by any means. I don’t know how I only had FOX but somehow never really paid attention to X-Files or watched the entire series until this year, but here we are. My best friend controls my television (and life?), and for whatever reason, she decided to watch the entire series. As soon as she finished, she made me re-watch with her. Though it took us 8 months to get through it (a lot of life happened in that time span), I am so happy I finally watched all of the X-Files, and there is one really, really big reason for that.
EINTKILF Dana Scully
“Smart is sexy.
The enigmatic Dr. Scully utters this line herself in the delightfully weird season three episode about cockroaches and mass hysteria, “War of the Coprophages.” And while she’s not talking about herself at that moment, come on — she totally is. A physicist and a pathologist and a special agent of the FBI, Dr. Dana Katherine Scully is bright as hell and never stops learning. Be endlessly curious. It’s sexy.
Also, have you guys even seen Gillian Anderson? She is not only “getting better with age,” she is exceeding anyone’s standards for what a stunning human can be. (David too, but let’s be real.)
Be open to (extreme) possibilities.
Scully and Mulder are united in a stroke of luck (I mean, not really, since it’s a television show) when she is assigned to the X-Files to counter Mulder’s “spookiness” — or his love for the unknown and seemingly impossible. Scully, a brilliant medical doctor and scientist, is assigned to basically keep an eye on him — she is his complete opposite, in a sense.
Though there are 150 million jokes about the setup of many X-Files episodes, it is true that Scully cannot be told what to do by anyone, even her FBI superiors. She believes in hard, hard, hard science, but she opens her mind (and her strong f’in heart) to Mulder’s theories, conspiracies and all.
In 2016, a time of GIF-expressionism and irritation with men, Dana Scully has kind of reemerged as an icon for those of us who regularly put up with frustrating men (on the internet and otherwise). We all know that Scully loves Mulder (and he loves her — also has anyone else ever loved a person they way they love each other?), but she doesn’t shy away from standing up to him, putting him in his place, or even shooting him in his shoulder to get him to listen.
Scully is a badass, in every sense of the word. Don’t put up with anything. Scully never does.
Complexity is underrated.
I can’t express this better than my best friend: “In the season ten revival episode, “Founder’s Mutation,” Scully asks Mulder if he considered her just an incubator when she was pregnant with their son, William. He replies, ‘You’re never just anything to me, Scully.’ And he’s right, Scully is never “just” anything — not just a doctor, not just a scientist, not just an FBI agent, not just a skeptic, not just a Catholic, not just an abductee, not just a pawn in the machinations of the syndicate. She is a complex woman, not without her weaknesses, but also not without her innumerable strengths. She is as intriguing a character as you will find within the confines of a mid-’90s semi-procedural, semi-serial drama.”
She followed it up with the best advice I can really imagine hearing at this point in my life: “Allow yourself the room to carve out whichever identities you want for yourself.”
I think this is a lesson in every single one of my EINTKILFs (and there are a lot of them), but I always mean it — and right now might be the most I’ve ever meant it. Dana Scully is one of the bravest, strongest, most complex characters I have ever had the privilege of getting to know. Though part of me wishes I had grown up with this show, part of me knows that I could not have taken from it what I took this year. Though I am absolutely nothing like Dana Scully (I wish!), I understand some of her character. I understand some of her frustration, her ability to pick up and carry on, her dedication — not just to her job and her beliefs — but her dedication and loyalty to the very frustrating Fox Mulder. I found myself constantly saying, “poor Scully” while watching the series because her life is just very sad and very hard, but the thing is, she doesn’t need my pity. She is everything, truly.
And Gillian Anderson rules. That has to be said.