Toward the end of the twentieth century, science fiction television took a dark turn.
Series like The X-Files, Millennium, and Dark Skies wove menacing technologies, paranormal forces, and shadowy government agencies into complex tales of corruption and cover-ups.
Mind control, alien abductions, secret government laboratories, and implacable "men in black" moved from the fringes to the mainstream of American culture, making weekly appearances in living rooms everywhere.
Other series that played on fears of new technologies-such as virtual reality-set the stage for unfamiliar kinds of exploitation, while Dark Angel offered glimpses of a near-future wasteland devastated by a technological catastrophe. In The Paranormal and the Paranoid: Conspiratorial Science Fiction Television, Aaron John Gulyas explores the themes that permeated and defined science fiction television at the turn of the millennium.
The author traces the roots of this phenomenon in an earlier generation of series including The Invaders, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and Project U.F.O. and examines how changes in the cultural landscape led to the proliferation of these types of shows.
This book delves into the internal mythology of shows like The X-Files, resurrects now-forgotten series like Wild Palms and VR.5, and provides an important glimpse into American culture at the close of the twentieth century.
While exploring the pervasive grimness of these shows, Gulyas also examines how they offer hope in the form of heroes-like agents Scully and Mulder-who relentlessly dug through the tissue of lies and distortions to find and expose the truth.
The Paranormal and the Paranoid will appeal to scholars of media studies, sociology, and science fiction-not to mention fans of these programs and even conspiracy theorists.