Inevitably, a cool lady appears on the screen with a cute outfit, an ironic smile and the feeling that it is her not get fucked wrapped around her like a cloak. While women are not at the top of the call sheet as often as men in genre film and television, there are many more women there now than before, even though they are entertaining people With convincing backstories and appealing characterizations, not a single heroine came close to the match Xena by Lucy Lawless when it comes to giving to fuck.
Xena was originally just a bad guy for a multi-part story from 1995 Hercules: The Legendary Journey. Hercules had gone neatly from televised television to syndicated television, and Xena was introduced as a new breed of evil that was both physical and beautiful. While there’s a lot to see when it comes to Kevin Sorbo’s modern politics, his Hercules was a sensitive guy – a prototypical Superman who was more inclined to stop bad guys with a smart word than a fist in the face. He stopped Xena not with brute force, but with kindness and empathy, and the show’s creator (and Lawless’ future husband) Rob Tapert realized immediately that he hadn’t quieted down a villain of the week, but created the genesis of a heroine.
Xena: Warrior Princess was quickly opened and lit green; Lawless was joined by Renee O’Connor as her brave pal Gabrielle, and the show, which launched on September 4, 1995, was an instant hit. While Lawless was terribly uneven in early episodes, there was something electrical about her – and not just because she was Walking in a leather one-piece and skirt that makes yiyiyi backflips on the faces of the bad guys. Her Xena was in some ways confident that female heroines are rarely outside of Aaron Spelling’s action hours. She was convinced of herself.
She often said in the deadly serious and strictest of ways that she “has many skills” and they ranged from handicrafts to cooking to math and strategy and the martial arts style that was clearly “New Zealand stunt team that loved Hong Kong.” Action films. “The gag was that Xena was a woman who could do anything and feel just as comfortable at home as she did, knocking the ever-loving shit out of people.
Even though she’s so sloppy transformed the genre of lesbian romanceXena didn’t seem particularly transgressive to most viewers. Straight men liked to look at her, straight women liked to be inspired by her, and honestly, kids like me just wanted to have fun.
But Xena was absolutely transgressive because she was a rare heroine who was allowed to screw it up in the most deadly, violent, and terrifying ways and then redeem herself. Heroines on the road to salvation rarely get this opportunity. Black Widow had to die to “save her boys” After years as an assassin, the same goes for Amy Ackers Root Person of interest. Sure, women are redeemed sometimes –She-Ra‘s Catra had a seasonal bow with her– But in 1995 there weren’t many women to headline TV shows, and even fewer were both allowed to be absolute bastards and Heroes too. It was really just Xena.
She was a warlord and she killed many people and killed people throughout the show. Hell, she dragged Gabrielle to her death in season three (don’t worry, a foray into a music beyond got her things sorted out and brought back to life) and cut more than one throat with her chakram.
And even wilder – Xena like it. Lucy Lawless played Xena with this incredible joy, smiling and screaming as she devastated entire armies. Even when it was bad, Xena usually had a manic grin on her face. Lawless always played her as excusedly pleased to commit wanton murder and destruction.
It is significant that nearly two decades after the show ended and a full 25 years after it started, most people are giving a pass Xenathe worst episodes from a structural or critical point of view. Instead, it’s the finale – where Xena says she’ll have to die to fix the problem of accidentally setting fire to a city of 14,000 while drunk – that stirs viewers. Most of the show focused on how a bad woman can do good, and those good deeds alone were enough to redeem her. She didn’t have to hurt herself or lose love or family to find salvation – she just always had to work to do better.
Xena was an Un until literally the last scene on the showexcusing war criminal woman you loved watching murderous gods. 25 years later, this is the part of her legacy that still stands out. So go ahead and skip the finale.
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