As you wait for all your genre shows to return from break in this late-summer lull, why not stop searching Tumblr for #cosima and #superwholock and watch The X-Files, which is streaming for free on Netflix and Amazon Prime? And if nostalgia isn’t a good enough reason, you have an ambassador to guide you through the very best and most important episodes: Kumail Nanjiani.
You may know him from Portlandia; or Silicon Valley; or his video game podcast, The Indoor Kids, which he co-hosts with his wife Emily V. Gordon; or his hilarious, nerd-tinged stand-up (which you should REALLY check out if you haven’t yet). Now he’s hosting a new podcast called The X-Files Files where he and a guest discuss select episodes of The X-Files.
Nanjiani, an enthusiastic fan of the show, has curated a list of must-see episodes and he explains why on the second installment of the podcast: “This show is for two kinds of people: one, people who have never watched The X-Files and for them I’m guiding them through the good episodes of The X-Files… for them I’m helping them skip the ones that aren’t that well done.” He goes on, “The second group is people who have already watched The X-Files and are re-discovering it, well then you don’t need me to talk about the episodes I don’t like because you’ve already watched them and you have your own opinion of them anyway.” He’s gotten some grief from his growing fanbase about this decision, but I think his reasoning is solid.
One of the most interesting parts of the podcast is that he delves into ancient X-Files message boards, revealing the beginning of the internet as we know it today: a place where some people obsess and argue and speculate about their favorite shows and other people troll them. Also fascinating is that The X-Files was one of the first shows to have the kind of direct contact with fans that we take for granted today. On one episode of the podcast, guest Dean Haglund (aka Lone Gunman Richard Langly) revealed that the show’s creators visited these boards often, interacting with the fans and taking note of the discussions.
I’m a huge Kumail Najiani fan (and I love The X-Files) so I was already on the hook before I even heard one episode. But whether you’re a long-time fan of The X-Files, or watching for the first time (or not watching it at all), the podcast is delightful. The commentary from Nanjiani and his guest, the behind-the-scenes trivia, and the archeology of the early internet all make for a rich experience. I give it 5 out of 5 Erlenmeyer flasks.