The Scully Effect
If you’re not familiar with the Scully Effect, you will quickly realize its impact on TV and real life once defined. Prior to Gillian Anderson being cast for the X-Files aside David Duchovney, hyper-sexualized female characters often played alongside smarter male role models. (Think Baywatch.)
In fact, X-Files producers wanted a “a tall blonde with big boobs, who would be a sexy sidekick for Duchovny.” Gillian Anderson was anything but that. Anderson told producers she was 27 when in fact she was 24, in an attempt to fit the aesthetic of the FBI agent’s character. Still, she wasn’t what they were looking for.
She got the job, obviously. And The X-Files remains a cult classic.
Producers hadn’t been confident that a woman who was not hyper-sexualized would fit the role. Again, they were mistaken. Cultural interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) that exists in many of today’s TV dramas had yet to dominate, so X-Files’ creators really didn’t know if the show would succeed.
However, Anderson, despite every obstacle, got the job. Remember, this was an era where women were not as often in technical or scientific jobs. There were more nurses and fewer women in high-profile scientific jobs.
Even still, in this era where we continue to examine female sexuality and the female leader in a new light, the Scully Effect, as it’s known, has played its role and should not be overlooked. After The X-Files, other shows portrayed female crime scene investigators. Think CSI and its spinoffs, NCIS, and Blindspot. Even think Victorian-era Murdoch Mysteries, for Canadian readers. Those characters might never have existed if not for Gillian Anderson. As life often does, it followed suit. Today there are more women in STEM fields than there were thirty years ago. What might it look like in another thirty? That's one of the questions of the year, it seems, if you follow the media of any flavor. And everyone seems to have an opinion.
Jamie Poole has experienced its own Scully Effect. Once upon a time, back in college, a very, VERY early draft of the first book emerged as part of an assignment. Jamie was a boy named Ben. When I went to revise the story and transform that short story to a full-length novel, “Ben,” the lead character, whispered, “I’m a girl.”
Jamie Poole was born. It was so obvious she was a girl, I don't know how I missed it!
And while Jamie is not a scientist, she exists fully in a scientific world. She is truly a product of the Scully Effect…and her own determined, stubborn personality.
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