When The X-Files came back to confirm that the truth was still out there in 2016, even diehard fans were nervous—and with good reason. While the show seemingly kicked off the trend of ’90s small-screen darlings getting resurrected for a limited season ( Twin Peaks, anyone?), it was tough to know heading in if executive producer Chris Carter and co-leads Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny would be able to recreate the magic of the original series. But even with generally negative reviews from critics and fans alike, the show was picked up for an eleventh season by Fox, kicking off production for another 10 episodes this summer.
With over a year until its return, the question then turned to who, exactly, would be brought on to write season 11—and how many of The X-Files‘ most familiar names would contribute to the writing. Darin Morgan, Glen Morgan and James Wong, writers of some of the most famous X-Files episodes in the show’s history (from “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” to the controversial and disturbing “Home”), have all been recruited for season 11, as well as three new writers. The only downside? They’re all men.
As Indiewire reports, Gabe Rotter, Benjamin Van Allen and Brad Follmer have also joined the writers’ room for season 11, with the first two graduating from writers’ assistant jobs on the season prior. That’s not to say that the show shouldn’t be promoting from within if writers have earned their stripes, but what’s most unfortunate is something that Indiewire notes as well: a big-name drama series on a major network with an all-male writers’ room in 2017 speaks to something that has permeated The X-Files‘ writing staff since the show first aired back in 1993.
Over a total of 202 episodes, two feature films and the six-episode revival, only six women have earned writing credits for The X-Files. Three of them share a byline on the episode in question, and one happens to be Gillian Anderson herself, who wrote the Dana Scully-centric episode “All Things.” But when it comes to the names that were repeatedly tasked to write big episodes—or even the writers most fans can name—all of them are men. Glen Morgan and James Wong. Vince Gilligan, in his pre-Breaking Bad career. John Shiban. Frank Spotnitz. Naming a female writer off the top of one’s head becomes much trickier.
Speaking to Indiewire about the revival, Carter said the reason he’d hired from the same pool he’d originally worked with for season 10 was partly because he didn’t want to “take a chance” that the veteran writers might have to “recover a script” if a new writer wasn’t able to capture the tone of the original series: “If it’s not there to begin with, it’s very hard to manufacture quality.” It’s tough to say whether Carter’s response to the criticism is a result of genuine unawareness or something else entirely, but one thing The X-Files could undoubtedly use for season 11 is some fresh blood—or at the very least, some fresh ideas.
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Time should certainly be less of an issue for Carter this time around: the show has had over a year to bring on new writers, so it’s a bit disappointing to see a lack of diverse perspectives among the names tasked with crafting Mulder and Scully’s next set of adventures. And when other networks like The CW are sprinting miles ahead with 67% of its shows being helmed by female showrunners, it makes any response sound like a lame excuse. It’s 2017 and Agent Dana Scully still doesn’t have a desk of her own in the basement of the FBI—or a nameplate, for that matter—and that’s just one of the reasons why The X-Files needs to seriously shake things up before they run the risk of stories turning stale.
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