And yet, The Gifted isn't offering a view of the dystopian days of that particular story, either in its movie or comic book incarnation. The X-Men movies (whichever time period they are set in), have shown us a world where mutants and humans sort of co-exist, albeit with constant friction. But in The Gifted, we have a reality where mutants are reviled, demonized and hunted. We come to learn that, after a catastrophic and devastating event, laws had previously ben mulled over were passed with little opposition -- laws that led to the open persecution of mutants.
When we meet the Struckers, the central characters of the series, they're leading their normal day-to-day lives. Andy even casually uses the term “muties,” a derogatory, highly insulting word used to describe mutants. Whatever event took place, whatever led to the disappearance of the X-Men and the Brotherhood and the oppression of mutants, it wasn't yesterday. It was most likely years ago, because the world has had time to move on and rebuild in its wake. A world without the X-Men is now the norm, and other mutants have had the time to build a network -- an underground movement -- to help those in need. To hide them, give them new identities, and send them where the mutant laws are less strict. This, of course, is another clue, indicating that this isn't a worldwide phenomenon yet. The United States appears to be the place where the hunt for mutants is at its peak. But this could only be the beginning.
As the series moves forward, the dangers to mutants will only increase -- first in the form of Roderick Campbell (Garret Dillahunt), an X-Men villain from the comics. In the source material, Campbell is the alter ego of the mutant-hunting Ahab, a time-traveler who hailed from the Days of Future Past timeline, which would help reinforce the idea that this is the timeline The Gifted is set in. Should Campbell follow a similar path as his comic book counterpart, it could lead to the creation of Nimrod, the nigh-indestructible, super-intelligent Sentinel who also hails from, you guessed it, the Days of Future Past timeline.
In The Gifted, Fox has created a universe that isn't beholden to any particular X-Men continuity. The series takes place in its very own branch, its very own reality that will not have to adhere to any one movie or any one comic book. And yet, it seems like we're witnessing a new spin on the early days of the Days of Future Past timeline or, at least, something similar to it. A modern take on the birth of a dark future, the positioning of the first dominoes that will lead to possible doom. But whether this is a thread that remains ignored, or now The Gifted will choose to eventually follow, one thing is certain: With or without the X-Men in play, dark days are ahead.