I thought Mulder and Scully’s relationship was one of the most genuine and honest I've ever seen on television and I think it's one of the many reasons why the show has endured. Of course their relationship wasn’t perfect. Relationships aren’t perfect in real life. None of the characters on this show are perfect. They're human. Mulder and Scully were two brilliant but extremely flawed individuals. Their relationship would be unrealistic otherwise and we wouldn’t be able to identify with them. In turns both could be self-centred, single-minded, cold, distant etc. Yes, they could treat each other crappy at times. That's just life. I think we can all be like that at times in a relationship/with family/friends. As Salome wrote in her brilliant review of Never Again on this forum
Mulder and Scully aren’t perfect. And they don’t act perfectly toward each other. But imperfect doesn’t automatically translate to dysfunctional. Why do we have to believe that they’re together because of some twisted and unhealthy psychological need? There’s a far more simple and compelling, if less melodramatic explanation: They’re friends.
I have never thought of MSR as dysfunctional. Dysfunctional by whose or which standards? Who or what defines what 'normal' or 'dysfunctional' is? To quote a poster on Haven
Dysfunction is an easy word to call MSR. This narrows down the characters´ motivations and ignores the more ideological reasons for M & S investment in the x-files, and their personal integrity.
I agree with this. Both M & S wanted answers and justice and they were both dedicated to the work.
You could say that Mulder’s family was dysfunctional. You could argue that M & S were dysfunctional because they were both workaholics, isolated by their work and rarely socialised with other agents. Due to the nature of the job, they could only depend on and trust each other. They were emotionally dysfunctional as they both had trouble expressing their feelings and could shut down emotionally. It could also be argued that they brought more dysfunction into the relationship with her father figure issues, although personally I never brought that; IMO if there’s one thing Mulder never
was to Scully it was a father or authority figure. After all that M & S went through how could they not be dysfunctional in some ways? All they had were each other.
However, from my personal experiences many people have such issues; most families and relationships are dysfunctional, many people are workaholics, have father issues, emotional issues etc. "Dysfunction" is actually quite common. I think maybe all of us are a bit dysfunctional in some way so with regards to MSR I don't think there was anything that unusual. At the end of the day M & S were best friends and loved each other and would do anything for the other. I think this was one of the few shows which clearly showed a man and a woman as equals and needing one another. As Mulder says to Scully in the first film, she made him a person. She was the missing piece in his life. And I think the same could be said for Mulder in Scully's life. Needing someone is human. So it's impossible for me to view any of that negatively.
With regards to their working relationship a Havenite posted this brilliant summary:
Mulder and Scully both have their roles to play. Like any good team, they specialize. They each do what they are most suited for. Mulder is a profiler and intuitive. He gets inside peoples’ heads and tries to work out how they tick. This means he usually “comes up” with the leads. They're his leads because he's the profiler, not because he's the leader. Mulder didn't lead; Mulder followed leads. Scully wasn't following Mulder; Scully followed where the evidence took her like any scientist worthy of the name. Scully looks at things logically. She handles the science, the 'proof,' the follow up, the paperwork, and the higher ups. Mulder sucks at these things. Scully excels at them. She likes things ordered, she likes detail, and she likes following policies and procedures. She's perfect for these things. To say the initial identification of cases is more important than the follow up is erroneous. Professionally, Scully didn't need Mulder, but Mulder needed Scully. She was the one who tested the hypotheses.
So I wouldn’t agree at all that Mulder solves most of the cases by himself, in fact I think it’s a wonder how he solved any cases without Scully. It’s made clear that before Scully was assigned to TXF Mulder was getting nowhere with his work. I don’t think that Scully was always wrong, it was science that was wrong. On the show, the deck is stacked against science because if existing scientific and medical knowledge could readily explain the case in question, it wouldn't be an X-File at all. Many times, when Scully's hypothesis wins out, Scully discovers something new... a new phenomenon, a new species, etc. Having said that, I thought that the science was also very plausible and was good at explaining cases too (see my ‘Science’ thread). Scully was also quite often right about cases, just not necessarily in a scientific sense and she was also perfectly capable of working cases by herself (Chinga and Tithonus are examples).
As CC himself said: “Mulder and Scully came right out of my head. A dichotomy. They are the equal parts of my desire to believe in something and my inability to believe in something. My skepticism and my faith. And the writing of the characters came very easily to me. I want, like a lot of people do, to have the experience of witnessing a paranormal phenomenon. At the same time I want not to accept it, but to question it. I think those characters and those voices came out of that duality." The way I’ve always seen it, Scully was never supposed to disprove Mulder’s theories so it isn’t a right/wrong thing. All she requires him to do is to submit his theories to scientific reasoning (this is made clear in episodes like the Pilot and Herrenvolk). Without Scully all Mulder would have are lots of weird theories. They may be the truth but what good are they without science backing them up? Mulder needs science and he realises this himself. He needs proof that the world will accept. Scully keeps him grounded. She makes him work for his solutions and that makes those solutions more viable. She questions everything and demands more then just blind acceptance. She demands evidence, motives and reasons. As Mulder said it in FTF Scully's skepticism saved him and validated the work. Just because something seems paranormal doesn't mean it is and rational explanations were given which sometimes dismissed the paranormal ones. The truth was often somewhere in the middle, between Mulder's wild theories and Scully's hard facts of the known scientific world. Some episodes, like Dod Kalm, El Mundo Gira and Field Trip actually had rational solutions. Just because the Fluke Man existed, doesn't mean that the Boogie Man does. It has to be proven. The immediate problem in every case is to find the solution. Sometimes Scully's theories move the case forward more than Mulder's, sometimes they send her down a blind alley. The same goes for Mulder. Yet, somehow, they manage to come together and find the solution. That's what's important - not whose theory was right or wrong. Each person challenges the other's ways of thinking and, in doing so, encourages the other to open their mind and look at all perspectives. Still, it's always going to be in Scully's nature - and rightly so IMO - to question the paranormal theory at first, to look to science first as an explanation for anything before she jumps to a paranormal conclusion. Similarly, Mulder is likely to always be able to entertain the paranormal theory first, even want things to have a paranormal aspect when they don't. That's the nature of their individual perspectives and though they might both be more willing now to see the other side of the coin, they're still always going to start from their usual respective corners. That's how they work as a team - one person covers the paranormal angle and one person covers the scientific angle and they meet in the middle - and that's what makes their partnership so good and so smart and durable. IMO.
I know I’m not alone in thinking that most of their cases were left open-ended and unresolved, letting viewers wonder about the answers. I think this was essential so neither M nor S looked silly or wrong. In almost every case, Mulder is partially wrong while Scully is partially right (a good example of this is Nisei/731). Mulder being right doesn’t somehow make Scully inferior or unequal. He wasn’t right because he was the guy but because it was a show about the paranormal. He was right in the same way over men too. In seasons eight and nine Scully and Reyes were right most of the time but that didn’t somehow make either of them superior over Doggett. Also, I don’t think Mulder was so wise; he was deceived many times by the Syndicate and was often very naïve whereas Scully was always rational and practical. When it came to aliens he was actually usually wrong and things either turned out to be a hoax or have a rational explanation. Furthermore, we cannot trust Mulder’s memories; they change over time and he doesn’t even trust his memories himself. The story he tells in The Pilot is different from what we see in Little Green Men and is different from what he sees in Demons (with all that extra oxygen from the new holes drilled in his head and a bit of horse tranquilizer). I would never say that Mulder is mad because it’s clear he was onto something right from the off but it's also clear that memories and the paranormal in general were quite often shown to be unreliable. This was even parodied in Jose Chung and Bad Blood. Also the fact is that without proof no-one will believe Mulder (and no-one does as is shown in many episodes).
I have always seen Mulder and Scully as equals and I think it’s significant that even male fans have pointed out this equality. In the US in 1993 women were still a minority in much of the workplace, at least in law enforcement and especially in the 'old boys club' - the FBI. Scully's very presence was automatically subversive. As a partner, but especially as the 'junior' partner and one who had never been in the field, Scully could easily have been relegated to 'fetching the coffee' and doing paperwork while Mulder did all the 'real work' and of course, took all the credit. Scully's had the same training as Mulder and was just as capable. From day one she was out in the field with Mulder and he treated her like she could hold her own as a field agent and could watch his back. Scully saved Mulder as many times as he did her, in fact, I think she actually saved him more. Mulder was the older of the two of them and the senior agent. He treated Scully as an equal because he saw her as one
and he didn’t seem to care about hierarchy either. They wouldn’t have gotten as far as they did had he kept pulling the rank card over her. He only did it once, in Never Again, and even then he didn’t seem to care whether she went to Philadelphia or not.
Scully was also Mulder’s intellectual equal right from the start, indeed some even think she was smarter than him. At their first meeting Mulder told her that he knew she was there to spy on him, yet he still
asked her opinion on the case. This in itself
was groundbreaking for the time considering the position of women in the workplace. Mulder not only respected Scully, she was on the same level as him and he never
treated her like an inferior female incapable of doing her job without him standing over her shoulder, in fact he did just the opposite because HE respected her enough to know she could take care of herself and do her job without his supervision. In Scully Mulder saw someone who was his equal intellectually and in terms of ability, both physical and mental, gender a non-factor. Mulder never shunned Scully or tried to shut her out. On the contrary, right from the start he let her into his world, shared everything with her and completely trusted her with his life’s work. I wonder how many men would be able to do that. Mulder’s treatment of Scully really stands out when it is contrasted with how other men treated her: Doggett who saw her as a weak woman to protect and the sexist cops in D.P.O, 2Shy and Patience.
Mulder was the dominant force in the relationship
I think it’s clear that Mulder was not some dominant macho man and Scully wasn’t a weak submissive woman, in fact she was strong and assertive. Strength and independence was instilled in the character from the very beginning. When they first met Scully immediately contradicted Mulder’s assertions about UFOs and aliens and was self-assured enough to counter his theories with alternative explanations. She challenged his theories at every turn and it often drove him to distraction. I also think that Mulder had no desire at all to dominate her. He is also strong-willed and self-assured - self-assured enough to state his theories in courtrooms and to his superiors even though it exposes him to ridicule, but he never tries to psychologically, emotionally or in any other way dominate Scully.
As far as bossing each other around I think too much is being read into this. It is all about context. At my work my colleagues tell me to do something and I do it or vice versa. During that moment, we understand that it doesn’t mean anything; we are just trying to get the job done and we don't care as long as it is finished. I don’t see how Mulder telling Scully to do something makes him a jerk. By this definition everyone in the workplace, indeed anyone who ever makes requests of others is a jerk. Do you (generic) have a problem when Mulder tells Krycek or Doggett what to do, or Danny whom Mulder is constantly calling and asking him to do something? Mulder even tells Skinner what to do a few times! Is there a problem when other characters tell each other what to do? What about when Scully tells people what to do? She even uses the same language as Mulder; “I want you to”, “I need you to”, “Get on the phone” etc. Mulder and Scully obviously saw all people as equals so why wouldn’t they see each other as equals? I think this is really just the way things work in the world and I don’t see how it can be otherwise. There were times when Scully didn't mind Mulder taking the lead in certain situations and vice versa but that in no way meant that they weren't equals.
I don’t believe Mulder ordered Scully around. She had no problem questioning him. She didn’t just rubber-stamp whatever theory he came up with. She challenged him and his theories at every turn. She had no problem saying "no" and refusing to go on assignment (All Things is an excellent example) or insisting on continuing an investigation (Excelsis Dei being a case in point). Scully was very much a take charge person too. Often, she took the lead in investigations, she was the one asking the questions and doing the briefings. She was also very bossy and ordered Mulder around all the time too. I’d say they were in co-charge. Like everyone else, Scully did a lot of what Mulder asks because it’s her job and out of courtesy but there were also many times when she refused him and shut him out when she felt it was not right. Mulder did a lot of what Scully asked too. IMO this is what a partnership is. I think all this clearly shows that there was no relationship where Mulder was superior and Scully the dutiful subordinate.
There are three reasons – these aren’t in order despite the numbers - why there is no doubt in my mind that Mulder and Scully were equals 1) From a review I read: Mulder and Scully trusted each other with their lives. That kind of trust, in its purest sense, can only be achieved by equals. 2) They fell in love. You can only have a relationship between equals. Scully is a very strong and assertive woman. She doesn’t take crap from men (there are many examples of this). She has never been afraid to stand up to Mulder. She gave as good as she got and she put him in his place many times. Mulder likes strong women and that’s one of the reasons he fell in love with her. I think it is clearly shown that what Mulder loves about Scully is her power and autonomy: that she is strong, independent, smart, and fierce. His attraction and love for her are portrayed clearly as a result of her autonomy, rather than detracting from it. 3) From a Havenite: Scully’s whole life was based on following her own dream and being a woman who could stand on her own two feet and fight her own battles and be seen as an equal. And she found that in Mulder.
Mulder got more screen time.
Hardly. Throughout the show most of M & S scenes are together and when they are apart the screen time is equal. If one of them did get more screen time in an episode, it’s balanced out by the other one getting more screen time usually in the next episode or in an episode in the same season. It really depended on who the episode focused more on, so Mulder got more screen time in One Son but Scully got more screen time in Biogenesis. Scully also got a lot of her own episodes. Mulder gets more screen time in a few episodes in early season two but the only reason for this was GA’s role being reduced because of her pregnancy. Scully gets more screen time in most of season eight so it balanced out. Whilst the series was at times slightly Mulder-centric, Scully was a character in her right and the show was equally Scully-centric. TXF was a series with two leads
, and I think this very clearly shows. The believer-skeptic dynamic was the heart of the show. You couldn’t have one without the other. This was the story of both Mulder and Scully and the writers always made an effort to show both characters in equal measure. As a result the screen time was actually remarkably equal and balanced. In fact, in general I think the screen time between men and women on this show was very equal; in season eight and nine Doggett and Scully had equal screen time and in season nine Doggett and Reyes also had equal screen time.
Duchovny appeared first in the opening credits.
Well someone has to come first. I think that to put GA first just to prove a point is quite silly. There are plenty of shows and films where the female lead appears first i.e. Friends where all three female leads appear before the male leads. It didn’t mean they weren’t equal. Duchovny appeared first because he was hired first and because he was a bigger "name" at the time (he had already made several television shows and movies). GA was essentially an unknown. However, right from the start the show was marketed as having two leads who were both equally important and I think this continued throughout the show. If the show really was sexist then in seasons eight and nine the men (Mulder, Doggett, and Skinner) would have appeared before the women (Scully and Reyes) which wasn’t the case. I’ve commented on the other points in “Why Today’s Women Need Dana Scully.” viewtopic.php?f=302&t=1277
. I think that on the whole the MSR is one of the most equal and well balanced male-female working/personal partnerships on television ever.