Monday, December 15, 2008

How Supernatural is Like the X-Files

Being a conspiracy theorist, I naturally became a huge X-Files fan (though not fanatical enough to see their last movie in theaters) so I was totally jazzed when Supernatural started a few years ago, because it's so like the X-Files in tons of ways. Only better. It's like they took all of the best aspects of the X-Files, polished them up and set them in a new story that is even more incredible and fascinating than all the crazy shit that happened to Scully and Mulder. (Though Supernatural has yet to produce a female character hawt as Scully... mmmmm. Man, that episode where she gets a tattoo is so freaking sexy... okay I need to get out of fantasy land, clearly, and continue writing this post.)

Similarity 1: Main characters are a duo, one all gung-ho about their mission, the other reluctant
In the X-Files, Fox Mulder is a rogue agent who insists on following cases that don't make any sense, based on his finding a bunch of closed but unsolved cases called the X-Files in the basement of the FBI. His superiors freak out that one of their golden boys has gone nutso and partner him up with Dana Scully, a by-the-book, analytical scientist and doctor who doesn't believe in any of the strange things Fox wants to believe in. This dynamic created a great push-and-pull feeling in the show, where you'd watch Scully go from total disbelief to almost belief and back again.

In Supernatural, Sam and Dean Winchester were raised by their father to hunt demons because one killed their mother and torched their house when Sam was a baby. Sam, now in college studying to be a doctor, has left that all behind him, hoping to exchange his crazy life for something much more normal. But when his father disappears and his girlfriend is killed by the same demon who killed his mom, he reluctantly agrees to rejoin his brother Dean on his never-ending demon-hunting mission, with the added quest of finding their father. Sam's reluctance to take part in the demon-hunting aspect is unflagging for the first season, in stark contrast to Dean's near blood-lust. He tries to stay focused on finding their father and each time they stop to track something new, he gets more pissy. There's nothing quite so fun as watching two brothers snipe at each other as they are killing monsters. Oh wait, there is, but that was neat too.

Similarity 2: Plot mainly driven by crazy monsters and the like
This one's pretty damn obvious. X-Files is interesting because of all the crazy beings and alien issues Mulder and Scully have while Supernatural is awesome because of how they re-interprete Americana and other mythologies (their take on genies was incredibly unique!) and also, a sack full of demons never hurts.

Similarity 3: Little stuff eventually adds up to one huge plot
In the X-Files, it seems for a while that most of the encounters Scully and Mulder have are totally random and unconnected. Eventually, the alien stuff turns out to be all interconnected with each other and with a secret group in the government that is cooperating with them to create an alien-human hybrid, even going so far as to turn their own family members over to the aliens for testing. The struggle with this group and with the aliens drives most of the series.

In Supernatural, the demon stuff also seems very random but it turns out that the demon who killed Sam's mom and girlfriend has big ole evil plans that include people like Sam, whom he gave special powers to when he fed them a drop of his blood as kids. Turns out, he's trying to open the gate to hell and let out his army of demons - but wants a human to lead them. All of this leads up to Sam having to fight for his life with the other "contestants" and the desperate search to kill this honcho demon and keep hell at bay.

Similarity 4: The main duo constantly cheats death
Scully and Mulder both cheat death in the X-Files as both are abducted by aliens (though not at the same time), Scully gets cancer, Mulder is devoured alive and the list goes on and on. They've got such a tenacious ability to come back, which Sam and Dean share. Both have died of natural and unnatural causes and come back (usually by making deals with demons), but Dean was even brought out of hell itself by an angel of God (whom Sam and Dean don't believe in). I know stuff like this is kinda hokey and the whole bringing people back from the dead thing can be so overplayed (Heroes seems to be proving that), but these guys do it with style!

Supernatural is in its 4th season now, so if you haven't seen it yet, you've got some catching up to do! It's totally worth it.

Related posts:
How Kansas City is Like Gotham City
Red Dwarf: Camp In Space
Everything I Need to Know About Public Speaking, I Learned from William Shatner

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-Jenna- said...

One time when I was fairly young (9 or 10) I watched X-Files (apparently neither of my parents were around). It was the episode where Scully or some other chick gets raped by the Amish!

Have you seen that one?? Scarred me for life and totally creeped me out. Not good considering where I live!

May said...

Oh yeah! I remember that. If it makes you feel better, the Amish were really aliens who'd been abandoned and were waiting to be picked up by the mother ship. I should probably be concerned with the amount of mental space X-Files episodes take up in my head. Lol.

Joe Pontillo said...

Random memory: When "Supernatural" premiered, it was during that weird phase in pop culture history where TV networks knew that the internet had changed the game but hadn't learned how to work with it yet. Promo departments were testing non-traditional methods of advertising. The end result: I was handed one of those rubber band bracelet thingies that Lance Armstrong invented, only mine said "Supernatural" on it and glowed in the dark. I'd send it to you if I still had it.

(Verification word: inouttr - a person, usually a child, who repeatedly enters and exits a house in a short span of time; often provokes a nearby adult to demand, "Hey! Either in or out!"

Joe Cox said...

Ok, so i may have to finally give supernatural a try. I had a feeling it had a bit more of a cheese factor than x-files, but i think that's just because x-files was sooo serious stuff to me when i was growing up watching it. I also have seen most seasons of buffy, so i really can't complain much on cheese factor.

you should try Fringe...I didn't like it much the first couple of episodes, but i've really warmed up to it. It reminds me a lot of X-files as well!

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