Okay, the title is a little off, since The X-Files deals with weird stuff, and religion definitely qualifies, but never mind.
So, here I was watching four straight season of classic 90’s sci-fi titan The X-Files on Netflix, because why not, when I came across an episode in which Scully proclaimed herself to be a faithful catholic, and even ended the episode attending church. Now, that annoyed me quite a lot, and this post is about to get super boring while I explain why.
Having a religious person (representing *any* religion) in a show is great, and fine, and important for diversity, and so on; however, when you’ve spent the last three seasons having one character berate another character for believing in extreme explanations for unexplained phenomena, making that same character profess a religious allegiance is ludicrous. Scully’s entire persona, her very reason for being involved with the X-files in the first place (in terms of the storyline, not in terms of the actual character on the show) is to be ‘the skeptic’, the rational antitheses to Agent Mulder, the one who refuses to believe in something without (of often even with) observable evidence, an obvious counterpart to Mulder’s insistence on embracing fringe theory. As soon as mention was made in regards to her faith, it felt like the writers were too scared to ‘out’ a character as an atheist, in fear of making them less-likeable in the eyes of the majority (i.e. the religious), even though every single aspect so far presented by said character would put her squarely in the realms of, at least, an agnostic disposition, or, more likely, on a stern anti-theistic footing.
Illogical character departures like this are often shown in fiction (especially mass-consumption fiction like Hollywood movies, or prime time television shows) when a character with certain defined traits suddenly makes mention of a personal aspect that is entirely ill-fitting of their established persona. It seems to be a staple of a writer who is either too scared of reprisal to push a character to stand out on a topic that they consider contentious, or a writer who is determined to give no credence to the existence of opinions that don’t fully align with his or her own in regards to specific subjects. It makes the entire show, film, book, what-have-you seem weaker in principal for having harboured it.
If you create a character, create them fully. Try to understand the entirety of who they are. Don’t form them as an individual, but then refuse to accept that their opinions would occasionally differ from yours. That’s not a character; that’s simply a conduit on to which you’ve slapped a few arbitrary quirks.
Okay, ramble over. I still love The X-Files. I’ll just pretend that that episode didn’t happen. What about you guys, do you agree or disagree with this decision, and ones like it, in character development?
Finally, for the hell of it, here’s Mulder and Scully looking fabulous.