xena villains

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Women’s Appreciation Week | Day Two ♀ favourite female driven show

SEPTEMBER 4: Xena: Warrior Princess premieres (1995)

On this day in 1995, the very first episode of Xena: Warrior Princess aired on NBC. Although the series had no explicit LGBT characters, the lesbian-coding of its titular character and her gal pal Gabrielle made the show a cult lesbian classic throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.

Although dated to today’s audience, Xena: Warrior Princess was a progressive show of storytelling and special effects for its time (x).

Set in a fantasy-eqsue Ancient Greece, Xena: Warrior Princess follows the story of Xena, an Amazon warrior played by Lucy Lawless, as she travels the globe and defends the innocent along with her right-hand woman and farm girl turned fighter, Gabrielle, played by Renee O’Connor. Although the show was a spin-off of Hercules: The Legendary Journey in which the character of Xena was depicted as a villain, Xena: Warrior Princess flipped the script and portrayed Xena as a hero on her path of redemption and eventually surpassed its predecessor in both ratings and popularity. During its second season, it was the top rated syndicated drama series on American television and remained in the top 5 for the rest of the show’s lifespan.

In what would now be deemed as “queerbaiting” of the highest order, lesbian viewers of Xena: Warrior Princess were continually teased by jokes and innuendos in the show about the true nature of Xena and Gabrielle’s relationship. In the media landscape of 2017 where LGBT audiences have somewhat of an array of media to choose from, such obvious disregard for lesbian viewers might have tanked the series, but in 1995, it what was catapulted it to cult classic status. Xena became a culturally significant moment in lesbian history. In a hilarious attempt to slyly target lesbian customers, the car company Subaru even released advertisements in the mid-1990s that showed cars with license plates that read “XENA LVR,” and an LGBT rights group was formed that called themselves The Marching Xenas. 

Originally posted by dougwp

Although the promised reboot of Xena: Warrior Princess in which Xena and Gabrielle were to be canonically a couple was recently cancelled by NBC, nothing can erase the original show’s cultural impact and the lesbian audience that propelled it forward. In 2006, the Xena costume was donated to the National Museum of American History, and perhaps even more satisfying, in 2003, Lucy Lawless herself gave an interview in which she answered speculation about Xena and Gabrielle’s relationship by saying, “They’re married, man.”

-LC

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BBC Sherlock (especially Moffat) takes a lot of inspiration from Xena, which is in turn partially inspired by the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Among many other things, the Ming T’ien arc might have been used as an inspiration:

  • They changed Milverton’s name to Magnussen, making it similar to Ming T’ien’s name.
  • Ming T’ien is a heartless villain and Xena kills him by putting a pin in his head because the world must be rid of him. Sherlock kills Magnussen with a bullet in the head for similar reasons.
  • Xena breaks in Ming T’ien’s palace and finds Gabrielle there as a twist. Sherlock breaks in Magnussen’s building and finds Mary there as a twist.
  • Ming T’ien is called the “green dragon”. Magnussen is called a dragon for Sherlock to defeat.