While science fiction has a long-standing habit of predicting future technologies, The X-Files’ focus on anatomical manipulations as a means of control resulted in a plotline that inadvertently mirrored the COVID-19 pandemic which occurred a few years later. The proximity to such a similar, real-world situation resulted in some audiences interpreting their own experiences through the framework of sci-fi television, demonstrating that the discursive environment crafted through the text of The X-Files is continually applicable to contemporary anxieties and paranoia even after the show finished airing. In this article, I argue that The X-Files’ critiques of real-world abuses of powers and the running themes of paranoia and governmental distrust gave audiences a framework they could use to negotiate their anxieties, resulting in the series being used to both defend and reject COVID-19 protocols by sci-fi fans on Twitter. In this study, I utilize a thematic analysis of these tweets to examine how audiences perceived the implications of the show’s text and their lived experiences by using the lens of science fiction to contextualize the pandemic.

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