December 9, 2023

How Hollywood Made a Greek Warrior Princess that Hardly ever Existed

5 min read

Xena, played by Lucy Lawless
Xena, played by Lucy Lawless. Photograph: Screenshot from Time 2, episode “Return of Callisto.” Courtesy: Studios United states Tv

Xena the Greek warrior princess, who began as an antagonist of Hercules, captivated audiences about the globe a lot more than 20 decades ago. One particular of the joys of seeking back at Xena is its playfulness. It options critically badass woman figures, and at situations delivers a major message about feminine solidarity and feminism.

By Amanda Potter

Xena the fictional Warrior Princess, played by Lucy Lawless, captivated audiences all-around the globe for 6 series with her superior kicks, sword expertise and distinctive war cry. The sequence adopted her as she fought her way as a result of armies, monsters and gods, together with her soul mate and ethical compass, Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor).

Xena travelled across house and time, having us from historic Greece to Rome, Egypt, Britain, China, India, Scandinavia and finally to Japan, where it all came to an finish 20 decades back on June 18, 2001.

Commencing lifetime as an antagonist of Hercules in three episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena was so popular as a character that she was supplied her personal spin-off collection that ran from 1995 to 2001. At the time, Xena: Warrior Princess was considered groundbreaking as it starred a powerful woman motion heroine and was the only popular experience, motion, science fiction or fantasy demonstrate that featured woman sales opportunities with out male counterparts.

On the 20th anniversary of the remaining episode, it is well worth revisiting this wonderful present and checking out why it was beloved by a wide spectrum of viewers, from young girls drawn in by an active feminine job model and ancient record buffs to sci-fi admirers and the LGBTQ group.

The Fictional Greek Warrior Princess and the Amazons

A reformed warlord from ancient Greece, Xena was not an Amazon but a buddy to the tribe of warrior women of all ages. To historic Greek writers, the Amazons have been women of all ages who fought and behaved like adult males and were being unnatural barbarians. They have since been adopted as beneficial feminine purpose versions who break with misogynistic stereotypes of womanhood – they live in a self-sufficient, feminine-dominated society as warriors and intellects. The term “Amazon feminism” is now made use of to explain a department of feminism that encourages female actual physical prowess as a way to realize gender equality.

Prior to Xena, the Amazons highlighted in the 1970s “Wonder Woman” tv series. Not pretty the feminist icons we anticipate currently, these girls wore pastel-colored negligees as they adopted a tranquil life — with no males — on Paradise Island.

In Xena, while the Amazons may possibly also have been attired in revealing costumes made of furs and skins, their separatist culture valued martial, as nicely as tutorial, techniques. An Amazon tells Gabrielle that the Amazon earth is based on “truth and an person woman’s strength.”

The Amazons from Greek mythology lived aside from guys, at the edge of the recognised world, and fought bravely versus male heroes this kind of as Hercules, Theseus and Achilles. In Xena, the Amazons also are living in a matriarchal society and are skilled fighters who can maintain their own in opposition to guys.

The Amazons in Wonder Woman (2017) can be seen as Xena’s large-screen descendants. The costumes and preventing prowess of Penthesilea (Nina Milner) in the BBC drama Troy: Drop of a Town (2018) has tinges of Xena. The leadership capability of the immortal Amazon Andy (Charlize Theron) in the Netflix film The Old Guard can also be found as impressed by Xena.

But though Troy: Fall of a City and The Outdated Guard are aimed at older audiences, Xena was preferred across all age teams. For occasion, episodes of Xena have been broadcast in the United kingdom on Channel Five’s Milkshake! Saturday early morning slot in the 90s and early 2000s for youthful viewers. This led lots of younger ladies to adopt Xena as their part product.

The Xena subtext

Xena was also common with gay and lesbian viewers. In the 1990s, openly homosexual associations ended up typically lacking from preferred US tv collection. On the other hand, Xena’s partnership with Gabrielle was interpreted as much as buddies and enthusiasts as considerably as hero and sidekick. Series producers commenced to perform with this strategy, for example, placing Xena and Gabrielle jointly in a hot bathtub in period two supporter-favourite episode A Working day in the Existence, so that for many, the subtext turned the major textual content.

Whilst a whole lot of followers were dismayed that Xena died in the last episode, they had been treated to a lengthy goodbye kiss between Gabrielle and Xena’s ghost. Series producers never ever overtly designed Xena and Gabrielle a lesbian pair. But LGBTQ+ lovers championed their connection, which is believed to have paved the way for the overtly homosexual relationships we see in television series nowadays.

A person of the joys of on the lookout back again at Xena 20 several years afterward is its playfulness when in contrast with dark sci-fi fantasies like Recreation of Thrones. It capabilities severely badass feminine figures, and at moments offers a serious information about woman solidarity and feminism, but does not just take by itself much too significantly. Some of the specific consequences might now seem to be dated, but the storylines still ring genuine and the figures of Xena and Gabrielle can keep on to be inspirational for a new era of youthful female viewers.

Amanda Potter is a Going to Investigation Fellow at The Open up University. The post was posted in The Dialogue and is republished right here underneath a Imaginative Commons License.