Generation Gillian Anderson or How We Were All Hot for Dana Scully

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Get out your flashlights: The X-Files is coming back!

Few shows from my teenage years stand out as truly influential; fewer still are female characters that were strong and smart, and capable of standing toe to toe with her male counterparts. In the years between the mid-’90s to the early ’00s, Dana Scully, played flawlessly by Gillian Anderson, was at the top of that list for most television-viewing women growing up in what I like to call “the last TV generation.” The return of The X-Files is kind of monumental for a lot of people, but especially for gay women who were at one point or another in love with Gillian Anderson and Dana Scully, hottest redheaded medical Doctor, Federal Agent and queen of skepticism.

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The X-Files was generally about Fox Mulder and his quest to find his sister, Samantha, who had reportedly been abducted from their home while under the care of 12-year-old Fox, but it became so much more than that. Dana Scully—our lord and savior—is brought in as a sort of spy, hired by the FBI to debunk Mulder’s findings. But lo and behold, Scully actually winds up trusting the nerd, bringing the two into the center of the most epic love story composed of enough aliens, government conspiracies, cover-ups, incestuous mutant families, fat sucking online stalkers, cancer causing chip implants and black oil viruses to give you nightmares for the rest of your life. 

Yes, it’s the stuff nerd dreams are made of, but it’s also the stuff gay nerd dreams are made of.

The X-Files came along at a time when gay characters were sparse in both television and film, and where there were gay characters, they were used for comic relief under stereotypical portrayals. The LGBT community had next to nothing in regards to representation, so a young gay girl’s only option was to grab onto the nearest well rounded, competent, well-written female on TV and never let go. Scully was all of that and so much more. She was a medical doctor.

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And an all around badass who did her thing and did it right, and who took no shit from sexist douchebags.

Gillian Anderson’s interpretation of this strong-willed woman who didn’t spend all of her screen time pining over men or complaining about the parade of losers she was dating was refreshing to little gay girls encountering show after show about women who were counting down the days until their next date with yet another boring guy. And yes, there was the whole thing about Mulder being her soulmate and all of that business, but that’s neither here nor there, it’s nothing a good pair of gay-girl goggles can’t cure.
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A woman who is competent, unabashedly intelligent, and still strong, even while she is vulnerable: these are characters to treasure. Sure, it could be in the story, and kudos to the show’s writers and creators, but let’s give credit where credit is due. I mean, Pamela Anderson was considered for the role of Scully, and I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t imagine she (talented as she may be) could carry these storylines quite as aptly as the glorious Gillian Anderson, whom I’m more than ready to see rock those red locks on my screen once again. 

scullyphoto by Ed Araquel/FOX

Gillian Anderson and The X-Files return for a limited six-episode event this Sunday on Fox at 10 pm.

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