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How Netflix's Paranormal Can Become The Next X-Files

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Netflix's 2020 supernatural horror series Paranormal shares a lot of similarities with Chris Carter's cult classic television show, which could mean it is well on its way to becoming the next The X-Files — here's how.

Premiering in November of 2020, Paranormal garnered immediate attention for several reasons. It's Netflix's first Egyptian and Arabic language series, immediately becoming aligned with other significant foreign horror originals offered through the streaming service. Just like South Korea's #Alive and its massive global success, Paranormal made horror history on one of the world's biggest viewing platforms. Prior to its release, Mike Flanagan's second installment in The Haunting series, The Haunting Of Bly Manor, immediately captivated audiences with a similar atmosphere as well as its use of supernatural elements. This led to Paranormal being immediately compared to Bly Manor, which, in several instances, was entirely warranted. As fans of both programs debated which one was better and concluded with Paranormal as being far superior due to its impeccable world building, storyline, and character development.

When The Haunting Of Bly Manor and Paranormal are compared to each other, there are far too many differences than similarities, which make it more evident that the Egyptian series should be compared to The X-Files instead. Chris Carter's cult classic TV show stars David Duchovny as FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson as Special Agent Dana Katherine Scully. The show kicked off with the dominant storyline of Mulder's investigation into the supernatural in order to solve the case of his missing sister, who he believes was abducted by aliens. With eleven seasons in total, including a revival, The X-Files has become central to the creation of contemporary, detective-styled supernatural mysteries, and Paranormal is no exception.

Paranormal & The X-Files Storyline Similarities

Both Paranormal and The X-Files feature two primary characters, a man and a woman, who are seeking the truth behind the supernatural events that have plagued one of their lives. Dr. Refaat Ismail (Ahmed Amin) has always seen ghosts for some inexplicable reason. His first love was even a young spirit named Shiraz Elkhadrawy. Similarly to The X-Files, the character with the strongest attachment to the realm of the supernatural leads the charge in investigating the unknown. Their partner, Scully or Maggie Mckillop (Razane Jammal) respectively, offers insight to the best of their ability, despite being fairly skeptical. Paranormal and The X-Files have a similar foundation in season 1: a man seeks the truth of his past, encounters the supernatural horrors of the present, and is forced to reconcile with the harm their investigative drive does to those around them. While The X-Files has concluded with no current plans for the future, it is likely that Paranormal may become the latest version of the series with even stronger roots in Egyptian folklore, the supernatural, and characters who act outside of a government institution.

Paranormal & The X-Files Characters

Dana Scully and Fox Mulder two of the most iconic characters in the sci-fi genre. Their chemistry onscreen is impressive and their mutual desire to watch each other succeed, while retaining some level of rationality, creates a dynamic duo that is unfounded in other shows similar to it. Paranormal's Refaat and Maggie share a similar relationship to Scully and Mulder. They have a past together, which makes their onscreen chemistry far more believable than if they had been introduced in a similar fashion to The X-Files' special agents. Refaat and Maggie are highly educated people who are well trained in research and analytical thinking, but their personal connection allows for their storyline to weave into the supernatural stories of the series.

Similarly, Scully and Mulder had a somewhat romantic relationship that only grew stronger as the series progressed. In this regard, both Paranormal and The X-Files share duos that have a deep fondness for one another, making their characters far more similar than they are different. Even Maggie plays the role of Scully to Refaat's Mulder personality. He knows that the paranormal is real and he is unable to escape it, just as Mulder knows the truth hidden in the FBI's X-Files documents and cannot avoid it himself. Maggie is far more practical and logical, just like the notably skeptical Scully. Ultimately, the primary characters are almost identical based on their interactions with each other, their environments, and the supernatural themes.

Paranormal & The X-Files Season Structure

While Paranormal season 1 only includes 6 episodes to date and The X-Files has an impressive 218 episodes, their season structures are remarkably similar. Fans of Carter's show are familiar with the "monster of the week" episodes that take up over half of a season. These commonly include cryptids like in season 3, episode 22's "Big Blue" plesiosaur as well as the creature feature aspect of season 5, episode 5, "The Post-Modern Prometheus." While they are entirely disconnected from the series' overall story arc, they add to the supernatural elements. Paranormal shares a similar structure by having supernatural creatures features several times throughout the series. However, the biggest different between the two shows' "monster of the week" episodes is that they are not disconnected from Paranormal's overarching storyline.

Both The X-Files and Paranormal end in the same way as well: a woman with red hair comes to town, supernatural events take place, the two team up, and, by the end of the season, new dangers present themselves to the duo. They are arguably similar series, which makes it even more possible for Paranormal to become the next The X-Files. The showrunners have firmly developed the relationships between their main characters in Paranormal season 1, which eerily reflect that of Scully and Mulder, while also making them entirely unique by situating them in more decidedly paranormal ventures, which appeal to horror audiences as well. Refaat and Maggie aren't FBI special agents either. They are just two well-educated individuals who take on strange occurrences in order to uncover the truth.

The differences from The X-Files' characters makes it possible for Paranormal to define itself separately from familiar storylines while also taking inspiration from the charm of Carter's characters simultaneously. Ultimately, it can become the next The X-Files by shifting the subject matter away from all things supernatural to strictly the paranormal as well as continually constructing a similar dynamic of Scully and Mulder in Refaat and Maggie, which has proven to work, in order for the series to progress with fluidity. They have undeniable similarities, but the revival of Carter's series, no matter how warranted, showcased how the 21st century was ready for something new like Paranormal.
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