The Scully Effect

In the face of alien-human hybrids, paranormal activity, and unimaginable monsters, Scully was able to provide the scientific evidence and logical proof.

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By Lily Bellinghausen

Art by Alex Hanson

The cult classic sci-fi show of the 90s, The X-Files, was unlike anything on television before its time. The writing, the crackling chemistry between the characters, the dark, thrilling mystery and dangerous edge of it all transformed the way television was made and viewed. It pushed limits. It was modern. It was eerie but beautiful. Even after fourteen years off the air, its fandom is still growing because of its intangible pull and and iconic characters. With nine seasons, two movies, and an upcoming revival, we hope that the truth is out there.

Government conspiracies, extraterrestrial life, and spooky monsters created the unsettling feel of the show, but The X-Files’ unorthodox pairing of “Skeptic and Believer” in FBI Agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder, respectively, established a dynamic playground of clever rapport and suspenseful tension. Whether it was Scully’s cool logic or Mulder’s unflinching belief in the impossible, the show was able to successfully tap into dark, psychological mysteries with humor and pulse-racing drama. However, most fans of the show will claim the greatest X-File, defined in the show as an unsolved paranormal case, is the indefinable relationship between Mulder and Scully. The push and pull of their polarizing beliefs and clashing personalities cultivated an undeniable chemistry.

Furthermore, the science in The X-Files made the stories it told and the monsters it spawned all the more ominous because it gave everything a shadow of truth and possibility. Science isn’t my forte, but Scully ignited my curiosity in the field. Can alien-human hybrids exist? Can a super-intelligent being control others telepathically? And most importantly, can cannibalism really increase my life-expectancy?

The X-Files and its leading lady created the “Scully Effect”: the increase of women in STEM careers who had grown up watching Dana Scully in The X-Files. She was a certified medical doctor and an FBI agent. How cool is that? Scully conducted autopsies, ran labs, and chased the bad guys. In the face of alien-human hybrids, paranormal activity, and unimaginable monsters, Scully was able to provide the scientific evidence and logical proof. Mulder may have always been “right” about flying saucers and mind-reading mutants, but Scully’s “nonexistent until scientifically proven” attitude provided the rationalizations to support his unbelievable theories. Special Agent Dana Scully isn’t glamorous— with short, no-nonsense hair, ill-fitting outfits, and a fresh face, she’s relatable. She isn’t a damsel in distress. Her strict rationalism and tough exterior speak to a different kind of woman. One who stands on her own and doesn’t back down. One who can kick ass in heels and come up with clever quips to combat her male counterparts. Scully is an inspiring role model for young scientists and women because she makes the pursuit of knowledge fun and fascinating. When The X-Files toes the line between science fiction and reality with clones, telepathy, invisible corpses, regenerating lizard-humans, and self-aware technology with a thirst for blood, Scully was, and is, our guide.

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