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The X-Files – Sleepless (Review)

This August (and a little of September), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the second season of The X-Files. In November, we’ll be looking at the third season. And maybe more.

Vietnam casts a long shadow over The X-Files, just as it casts a long shadow over the rest of American popular culture. It was a conflict that left a scar on the American psyche, prompted no small amount of soul-searching and naval-gazing, forcing the country to contemplate its role on the global stage. The issues of war guilt and veterans rights haunted America well into the nineties, with films like Forrest Gump and Heaven and Earth still trying to make sense of it all.

Along with Watergate, Vietnam came to embody the disillusionment and disengagement of the seventies. While public discomfort with American involvement the Korean War never climbed above 50%, public disapproval of American involvement in Vietnam would reach almost 75% in March 1990. Vietnam remains a boogeyman, with memories of Vietnam arguably informing Clinton’s reluctance to commit American ground troops to foreign theatres during the nineties and serving as a frequent point of comparison to twenty-first century entanglements in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Howard Gordon’s first solo teleplay for The X-Files, Sleepless is an episode that explores Vietnam as a perpetual waking nightmare.

Preaching to the choir...

Preaching to the choir…

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