All good lesbians should know by now that there is going to be a Xena reboot – a TV show written by Javier Grillo-Marxuach for producers of the original show Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi.
This gives me the excuse to post fan art like this
(I take no credit. Thank you Google.)
But really, what does it mean to someone who watched the original series when it aired in the late 90s and has watched all six seasons at least three or four times since then? (And maybe will have a little binge watch to catch the lovely up as her watching was sporadic.)
We know that the original stars Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor will not be reprising their roles as Xena Warrior Princess and Gabrielle. We also know that the subtext will be no longer ‘sub’.
The head writer has done a wide range of shows with a variety of characters, including the recent hit show The 100 (which I personally love for a number of reasons, not just Clexa).
“ Xena will be a very different show (than The 100) made for very different reasons. There is no reason to bring back Xena if it is not there for the purpose of fully exploring a relationship that could only be shown subtextually in first-run syndication in the 1990s. It will also express my view of the world — which is only further informed by what is happening right now — and is not too difficult to know what that is if you do some digging.”
So we could speculate on what sort of show it might be – set here now, in the past, in a ‘100’ type world. But we can say that there will be some girl on girl action of the sexy sort – just how far they go will depend on the writers/actors/program time/what it’s rated. The original was rated PG.
But will any of that matter to die-hard fans of the original series and cast?
To some, a Xena reboot without Lucy and Renee is not watchable for them. I can easily see how they bonded with these women and their journey. Their relationship, to young lesbians like myself, was a beautiful unfolding story of love and devotion. Xena was on at a critical time for many of us in the 90s where we were coming into ourselves and coming out.
Many younger fans will not have experienced a time where LGBTI characters on TV were almost impossible to find and lesbians were almost completely invisible, except for (finally) Ellen De Generes, Melissa Etheridge, Sandra Berndthart and KD Lang. It was difficult being any sort of gay in the 80s when I was in my teenage years and in the 90s, it did get better slowly, but very slowly.
And then there was Xena.
When I first started watching the show, I was totally in love with Xena. Eventually, as I developed and the character did, I wanted to BE Xena. And fuck Gabrielle. Lots and lots of sexy times with Gabrielle.
Although I’ve had a lot of periods of time where I have supplemented my life with sex fantasies about various women (Jodie Foster, Jessica Capshaw, Rachel Skarsten), the two I most fantasised about where Xena & Gabrielle/Lucy & Renee. Singularly. Together. In future worlds. In their world. In made up worlds. I wrote a lot of fan fiction in my head about those two. Sexy sexy fan fiction. For years. I formulated a continuing of the story into four seasons of shows. Perhaps if I’d developed them further it would be me writing them now…
But I digress…
A lot of other lesbians of that era would have done the same (sexy thoughts).
Long before Jodie finally came out, we had Xena and Gabrielle. Long before the L Word, before Grey’s Anatomy, Lost Girl and before The 100 (and yes, I’m skipping a few shows here), we had them.
So a reboot could be great for old fans of the show or it could be a total disaster. The original show was campy and funny and warm and low tech. The humour was very important and the chemistry between Lucy and Renee was MASSIVE. If the humour and chemistry is missing, the show will be in trouble – and the die-hard fans will not forgive easily.
Once I saw the Starz series Spartacus (also starring the very sexy Lucy Lawless), I said to my wife at the time – ‘what if Xena was filmed in this style?! The fight scenes. The sex scenes. Hell yes!’
This new show has some potential for that, although it is a network TV show, so I’m not sure how far it will go.
With the promise of representation always comes disappointment. Will it take the relationship far enough? Will it just be gratuitous sex without the warmth and beauty of the original?
My personal take on it is that it will need to be a slow build with actors that have a lot of chemistry together. I can’t see anything much happening in Season 1 – although I suppose it depends when they pick the story up in the relationship timeline. My feel is that Xena and Gabrielle started having sex late Season 2/early Season 3. Xena was clearly in love with Gabrielle before that, but I don’t think Gabrielle was ready to realise her true love until after the whole marriage to Perdicus (ugh) was cut short by Callisto (and the fans cheered).
Xena was clearly heartbroken by Gabrielle’s choice to marry but supported her anyway. Gabrielle clearly needed to come to a decision point and felt the need to go with Perdicus but I don’t believe she would have stayed for long. She was already in love with Xena, she just didn’t realise how much yet.
The tension of the original series was the ‘will they/won’t they’ kiss. They actually did several times and there was plenty of subtext, especially once the writers caught on in the later seasons.
Can two new young actors recapture this?
Can the new writers weave a compelling enough journey around them to bring about the growth of both women and the relationship?
And also, how will they deal with Xena’s bisexuality and obvious love/hate relationship with Ares? It was always clear to me that Xena swung both ways. Gabrielle was the lesbian in the relationship who had to deal with the potential disturbance of Ares (or Marc Antony).
Finally, are they going to have an inept and annoying but loveable Joxer involved? Personally he annoyed me but eh, whatever.
I’m certainly willing to give the reboot a watch. I just hope it’s as good as the original in the areas that it counts, since it isn’t Lucy and Renee playing the title characters.
Wishing you all the happiness the Universe can bring