The truth is out there, and it’s a bit imbalanced.
As “X-Files” fans gear up for the show’s 11th season, which follows a reboot of the 1990s series in 2016, IndieWire reports that creator Chris Carter has (at least as of now) enlisted only male writers. The season is scheduled for production this summer and will likely air in early 2018.
All of the announced writers, including Carter, are “X-Files” alumni. Darin Morgan, Glen Morgan and James Wong each wrote an episode last season, according to TV Line, and newcomers Brad Follmer, Gabe Rotter and Benjamin Van Allen have all been assistants.
It’s an industry tradition for television writers to rise through the ranks in this manner, so Carter’s choices were to be expected. But in 2017, it’s worth asking: How is there a major network drama that’s so dominated by male voices?
(A call and email to Fox for comment on Tuesday was not returned.)
This arrangement fits with the broader gender imbalance on broadcast TV’s fall schedule.
Variety noted last month that network shows scheduled to air during the 2017-18 season feature remarkably low levels of female talent, both in front of the camera and behind. Of the 39 new series ordered by the “Big Five broadcasters” — ABC, CBS, the CW, Fox and NBC — only 35 percent of lead actors and 29 percent of showrunners were female. And of the individual networks, only the CW had a high percentage of female showrunners, at 67 percent, whereas the other four came in at 33 percent or less. (Fox, which airs “The X-Files,” had 20 percent.)
“The X-Files” has also come under fire in the past for the differing treatment of lead actors Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny. Though they eventually received equal pay for the show’s revival last year, Anderson told the Hollywood Reporter that she was initially offered half of what was offered to Duchovny. Anderson, who has been praised for her recent work on the Starz series “American Gods,” won an Emmy — and was nominated three times — for her performance as Dana Scully on “The X-Files.”
“Especially in this climate of women talking about the reality of [unequal pay] in this business, I think it’s important that it gets heard and voiced,” Anderson told The Daily Beast last year. “It was shocking to me, given all the work that I had done in the past to get us to be paid fairly.”
Some showrunners in Hollywood have approached this issue from the opposite end of the spectrum. In staffing the writer’s room for the Amazon series “I Love Dick,” creators Sarah Gubbins and Jill Soloway opted to exclusively employ female and gender nonconforming writers, according to HuffPost. The writers draw from their own experiences to tell the story of Chris, an experimental filmmaker played by Kathryn Hahn, and explore female desire in a male-dominated world.
“[I]n this case, we wanted to hire people who we felt were familiar with the experiences that Chris [Kraus] had,” Soloway told HuffPost, referring to the author of the original novel. “And it turned out, of the people we spoke to, the people who were the most likely to write about this in the most fearless, bombastic, vulnerable human way ended up being all women and gender non-conforming people.”
“Every QUEEN SUGAR episode is helmed by a bad-ass woman director,” she tweeted last year. “Love to my sister shotcallers. And thank you.”