Happy Bi Visibility Day To Mulder And Scully, My Preferred Bisexual Gateway Drugs

Few lead characters do a better job of drawing the viewer into a complex, inclusive love triangle.

The X-FIles: Mulder and Scully are bi icons

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Throughout its 11 season-run, there was one question on the mind of many The X-FilesΒ diehards — when are Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) gonna make out with each other? But amongst a no-less important sub-set of the fanbase, there was an altogether different question raging. Namely: When are they both gonna make out withΒ me?

I first encounteredΒ The X-Files, that catalogue of American folktales and myths which might also be one of the greatest works of television ever committed to the small screen, when I was 10 or so. My next door neighbours, a group of rowdy boys who introduced me to everything from World Wide Wrestling to the Nintendo 64, had the first few seasons of the show on bulky VHS tapes. I was mostly sold by the spines — when collected together, the tapes became pictures of alien faces; dark, shadow figures; ghosts.

I watched that first episode on my neighbours’ couch, gripping a blanket between my fists, trying to pretend I wasn’t very, very scared. But amidst all that fear, I remember two flashing thoughts. The first, when Dana and her firm-shouldered suits powered into the room — “oh, she’s pretty.” And the second, when Mulder and his perfectly coiffed hair was first introduced, squirreled away in a room with sheaths of paper pinned to the walls — “oh, he’sΒ handsome.”

It was years later till I thought anything more about either responses. But Mulder and Scully were for me, as they were for so many other people I know, an important step on a road towards becoming, in a phrase, “very queer.”

Watching the show now, decades later, it’s obvious why: Mulder and Scully remain deeply sexy in their own thrillingly distinct ways. She is a swan — beautiful but reserved, always ready to cut through the horseshit and expose the heart of the matter. And he is a raccoon, wide-eyed and paranoid, sifting through spools of misinformation and chasing whatever new prize takes his eye.

The pair do have sexual chemistry with each other, of course. The show is most fun when they are together — the second season might be the least successful of them all precisely because Scully spends so much of it battling aliens, by herself, a plot contrivance to get around Anderson’s pregnancy. They bicker and they fight, but they love each other, and their winking, arch back and forth is the real meat of the series (aside from the aliens, of course.)

But despite their screwball comedy-esque repartee, they have a much more important sexual chemistry with theΒ viewer. They always seem to be looking just over each other’s shoulders, out of the television screen and into the real-world, fixing their fans with a gaze that communicates, first and foremost, real love.

Perhaps that’s why when Mulder and Scully do eventually get together, it’s something of an anti-climax. The characters who so frequently inserted themselves between the two — the slimy Krycek, the commandeering Skinner — aren’t the third characters in a ripe love triangle. They’re invaders in a love triangle that already exists between the show’s two leads, and the person sitting there in front of the television, utterly transfixed.

There have been other hot leads of other television shows, of course. But Mulder and Scully — and theΒ The X-FilesΒ by extension — had something very special. Not just beauty, not just chemistry, but a spark that made them eternal bi icons. And so today, on this most wonderful bi visibility day, let us honour them. Long may they run.