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'X-Files' Fridays: Radar love

Season 1 | Episode 14 | “Genderbender” | Aired Jan 21, 1994

It’s been over two decades since The X-Files made its debut, but the series is as relevant as ever, and with a revival series on the horizon, there’s no better time to revisit it—or to discover it for the first time. Community assistant editors Andrea Towers, who watched in its original run, and Kelly Connolly, who was introduced to the show last summer, will be here each week to talk it out. Next up, the Addams family finds religion.


ANDREA: You know what’s great about watching these episodes that I haven’t really watched in over 20 years? The fact that I forget things like this. And then I get to stare at my television and shout out, “OH RIGHT.” I guess it’s good I live alone.

KELLY: I had completely forgotten that Nicolas Lea played two characters on this show, but I guess Vancouver only has so many smarmy young guys who seem like they might refer to a woman as “a kind three.” (Actually, maybe he is Krycek.) And the idea of playing two parts is fitting, given the X-File of the week. Should we talk about this episode’s attitude toward gender fluidity? It makes me uncomfortable.

ANDREA: Yeah, I personally think that’s one of the more interesting things about this episode. This aired in 1994; it’s now 2015 … but back in the ’90s, this was something that was still kind of taboo, in a way. It makes me wonder what the reception would be if it aired today, especially in light of all the recent media attention toward gender roles. I found myself cringing a little bit during this rewatch, which I definitely probably didn’t do when I was a teenager. It’s also worth it to note that this was Rob Bowman’s first episode. What a way to start.

xfiles genderbender hayfield

KELLY: And from a visual perspective, it’s a sophisticated episode: We get Mulder’s silhouette in the doorway of the cellar, the glimpses of the barn through the cracks in the wood, that iconic last image of Scully and Mulder in a hayfield. Rob Bowman started strong. I just wish the script didn’t come across as afraid of transgender people—and sex in general, to a certain extent. It’s possible to argue that because we’re getting such a stark contrast between raves and Amish asceticism, the episode suggests that restraining all of your desires is just as problematic. But if nothing else, this show is weird about Scully and sex. Especially in the early years, she only comes close to it when she’s not in her right mind. (Which is rape, which The X-Files skirts around all the time without ever speaking its name out loud, a la Voldemort.)

ANDREA: You’re so right about that. Even in later episodes, Scully has issues with men that come close to being uncomfortable, mostly when she’s abducted or something. Don’t get me wrong: The show had its weird moments over the years, and some of them were incredibly disturbing. (“Home,” anyone?) But there’s a discontenting feeling here that I think, you’re right, comes largely from the script. It was like it was trying so hard to tackle a subject that it could talk about through the lens of aliens and our two characters and fiction, but I don’t think it came off the way they expected. I remember Chris Carter did an interview where he was asked about what people think, and his response was something along the lines of how the Amish don’t watch TV, so he wasn’t worried about it. Still, that doesn’t mean it handled everything correctly.

KELLY: Agreed. The X-Files is generally so good at taking the alien and making it human, but here, it does the opposite. This episode thinks it can shrug off everything it seems to be saying about humanity because the characters turn out to be aliens, and it doesn’t work like that. But I do think Mulder handles everything well—yes, he’s essentially swooping in to rescue her, but it’s so rare for Scully to be the one who needs rescuing, and it’s sweet the way he keeps his arm around her as he’s guiding her out of the house. He won’t let anything happen to her. And despite his wide-eyed shock that this is so not like Scully, he doesn’t see any reason for her to be ashamed.

ANDREA: This is like the silver lining of the episode—when Mulder rescues Scully, at least it doesn’t come off as someone helpless being rescued by her male partner or something. He’s genuinely worried about her, and about how this affects her, but it doesn’t come across as him demeaning her or anything. And your comment is so true: “It’s so rare for Scully to be the one who needs rescuing.” When she does need it, the show makes sure never to put her as the damsel in distress, even in cases where she COULD be considered that.

KELLY: I think that’s because of how quickly the two of them always bounce back. There’s a five-minute long stretch that’s basically just Mulder and Scully taking turns getting knocked out, and I love it. She gets hurt; he checks on her and then runs off; he gets hurt; she catches up and checks on him; he points her in the right direction while he’s slumped against the wall. And then she gets hurt again. It’s almost comical, but it’s also a sign of how much trust there is between them. There’s no ego in Scully and Mulder’s partnership. Neither one of them is keeping score of how often they each need protecting. When Mulder crumples up a map and kicks it into the air, Scully catches it. They watch out for each other.

xfiles genderbender map

ANDREA: That really saves the episode for me. What it lacks in, well … political correctness, it makes up for in its character development and relationships. Which, really, are the most important part of this show anyway, and why the stories work as well as they do—even in situations like this, where it’s not the best hour.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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