Whoosh! Issue Ten - July 1997

WHY WE LIKE XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS
IAXS Research Project #151
By Christine Schinella
Copyright © 1997 held by author
1778 words




MANY COMMENDABLE REASONS (01-04)
XENA, THE CHARACTER (05-11)
LUCY LAWLESS, THE ACTRESS (12)
GABRIELLE, THE CHARACTER (13-15)
RENEE O'CONNOR, THE ACTRESS (16)
THE SERIES (17-18)




WHY WE LIKE XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS





My song was supposed to have sapphic effects, not soporific effects.

Xena and Gabrielle going on a walk
in ULYSSES (#43)


MANY COMMENDABLE REASONS


[01] XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS has captured the loyalty of millions of fans, male and female, homosexual and heterosexual, young and old, in almost every city, state, or country in which it has aired. To analyze the reasons why it has managed to gather such a hardcore/nutball following, one would have to sit back and look at the show objectively, if that is at all possible. If one were to take the time to analyze the popularity of the series and the reasons why it is so well-liked, the conclusion would inevitably be that there are many commendable reasons.

[02] XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, through the talents of its writers, producers and directors, not to mention the actors, Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor, has created a certain air of campiness, perhaps reminiscent of such 1940s through 1970s hits such as FLASH GORDON, BATMAN, and WONDER WOMAN. Whether it was intentional is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the creators and producers have also managed to incorporate, in one entertaining hour, a montage of factors that play an integral part in what makes XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS work.

[03] It has not only managed to capture the age of innocence by its campiness, but has also managed to capture in its format a means by which mythology and ancient Greek history, although fictionalized, can come alive. After all, once viewing XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, whose interest in both mythology and ancient Greek history has not been rekindled?

[04] XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS has also managed to incorporate into its plots various self-defense techniques (martial arts is after all an ancient proficiency) and a variety of human emotions and qualities, including loyalty, friendship, tough decisions and good vs. evil. Xena has been harassed frequently by Ares to return to her old warlord ways, but she always manages to remain true to her convictions and fights the constant urge to take up the sword as she had in the past.



XENA, THE CHARACTER



Yes, I did that too. And then there was Jimmy Hoffa...

Xena confesses the sins of her past in a townsquare
in A NECESSARY EVIL (#38)


[05] Xena is a complicated character. Haunted by her past and struggling to overcome her dark side on a day to day basis, often hiding her emotions behind a facade of lack of concern or indifference, she has set out to right the wrongs she has committed. The little that we know of her, is that she and her brother, Lyceus were very close. He taught her a great deal about self-protection, from fisticuffs to sword-play. (REMEMBER NOTHING #26). At a very early age her village was ransacked and conquered by a warlord known as Cortese (DEATH MASK #23). She witnessed men, women and children of her village enslaved, raped, tortured and murdered without reason. When she decided to fight, her brother Lyceus formed a small army and during the battle that followed, he was killed, which devastated her. It was shortly after this that her course in life was altered. With the sole purpose of protecting Amphipolis against further invasion from other warlords, Xena's army grew and her name brought fear to her enemies.

[06] It is believed that she became just as horrible and as cruel as the warlords she had either fought off or conquered shortly after her encounter with Julius Caesar (DESTINY #36). She had steeled her heart against trust, love and friendship in order to spare herself any pain. She had to. She was a woman in a warlord's world, in a warlord's army. To show any sign of compassion, mercy or tears, would have been her undoing. It is believed she often bedded men, her motives being either love, lust or a simple tactic used to gain knowledge of her enemy in the hopes of defeating them in battle (WARRIOR PRINCESS #H09). Some even believe she used her sexual prowess to reward certain members of her troops.

[07] We also know that one of her liaisons produced a son during the course of her reign as a warlord (ORPHAN OF WAR #25). A son she had to give up for his own protection and for his future. She did not want him to turn out like she did, and she did not want him to be hunted down and destroyed by her enemies.

[08] In atoning for the sins of her past, she is a woman who is not only haunted by it, but tormented by it as well. Every new village she enters, the people are repelled by her presence. The armies and the men who know the name of Xena, either fear her or are in awe of her. The men who do not know who she is or think that she is Meg, tend to force their advances on her. She is still feared. She is still not trusted. Her own mother has disowned her. Nightmares plague her slumber. Her own son may never know that his mother is alive and that she is Xena. What parent, past or present, cannot relate to Xena having to give up a child she bore for nine long months, a child she hardly had time to know and watch grow, in order to enable that child a better future?

[09] What of Xena's feelings? How does she manage to deal with the looks of fear, anger, and disgust that others make no attempt to conceal from her eyes? How does she manage to continue and steel her heart against the pain she feels? Or does she?

[10] Even with Gabrielle, who has managed to chip away at that wall of protection around her heart, Xena is careful not to be too demonstrative. She still will not permit the young Bard to see that one small flaw... that one chink in her armor...that one emotion that she cares for her more than she is willing to admit. Each and everyone of us at one time or another has experienced one, if not more of these emotions, therefore, how can we not relate to this woman?

[11] Who among us cannot see that the bond between Xena and Gabrielle goes beyond that of friendship? In studying their ties, we see that Xena is extremely protective of Gabrielle. In many ways, Gabrielle is more to Xena than a traveling companion and friend. The young Bard is Xena's lost innocence; her beloved/deceased brother, Lyceus; the happiness she once had in her small village; the lost respect of her mother, family and friends; the son she had to abandon for his own well-being; and yes, to some degree, perhaps even her conscience. Think about it. How often do we replace things that we have either been denied or that we have lacked or lost in our lives, with someone or something, that fills that void?



LUCY LAWLESS, THE ACTRESS




I got a Mercedes! I got a Mercedes!

Lucy Lawless squealing with delight
on MIKE & MATY (02/13/96)


[12] Lucy Lawless has done an excellent portrayal of the internal turmoil and conflicts facing this Herculean female in her daily life. It is evident in her eyes, her facial expressions, her mannerisms and the way she carries herself as the Warrior Princess. Perhaps, without realizing it, Ms. Lawless is drawing from her own experiences in real life and applying them to her character. But then again, is that not what all good actors and actresses do? Personally, I do not think anyone else could pull it off as well as she does.



GABRIELLE, THE CHARACTER



Are you sure Amazons really wear clothes like this? Are you pulling my leg?

Gabrielle and her attendants
in THE QUEST (#37)


[13] What of Gabrielle's attachment to Xena? Perhaps she saw in Xena a means to escape a dull life, married to a farmer, working the fields in a village that offered her little in the ways of experience. Or perhaps, Xena was a means by which she could expand her horizons and taste life to its fullest; something very important to a bard. After all, how can one spin tales of excitement and adventure, without having experienced it? Or is it possible that she saw a bit of herself in Xena? Someone who was bold, dashing, strong, daring and brave. After all, for Gabrielle to leave her family, her fiancee, and her village to embark on an unknowing adventure with a complete stranger, would not she have to have some of these attributes? Perhaps, but somehow I doubt those were the only reasons why Gabrielle was in awe of this female warrior.

[14] Gabrielle is a very unique young lady. She is not cynical or bitter by nature. She is sweet, talkative, adventurous, spontaneous, impulsive, trusting, compassionate, and yes, perhaps even a bit empathetic. For whatever reason, she was able to look beyond the cold facade of the Warrior Princess, into the beautiful blue eyes and down into the very soul of this woman, whom she has called friend and in the episode THE QUEST (#36) her home.

[15] She somehow sensed the pain, the anguish, the loneliness, and the need to feel a sense of forgiveness, a touch of compassion, and an inkling of understanding, love, and admiration. Admiration, not for what she was -- a cruel and ruthless warlord -- but for what she wanted to be again, free from the sins of her past.



RENEE O'CONNOR, THE ACTRESS



Pat Bullard is useless! And I told him so!

An exuberant Renee O'Connor
on THE PAT BULLARD SHOW (10/23/96)


[16] Renee O'Connor, in her portrayal of our young heroine, Gabrielle, has managed to capture the essence of a young woman who is not only in awe of the Warrior Princess, but also captures the naivety, the innocence, the compassion she feels for Xena, and the admiration she feels for a Warrior Princess who is determined to mend the errors of her past ways and fight for truth and justice. There could be no other to portray our little Gabrielle. She has managed to capture, not only the Warrior Princess's heart, but ours as well.



THE SERIES



Er, Miss, did you drop this sharp round killing thing? I found it back there.

Xena, with a chakram and Gabrielle -- nothing can stop her now
in A DAY IN THE LIFE (#39)


[17] The series sends out the message that regardless of what misdeeds you may have committed in the past, if you have the courage, the determination and the conviction to change your ways, your habits, the manner in which you treat people, etc., you can do it. It may be a difficult struggle. Temptation may always rear its ugly head, but you can do it. It is up to you.

[18] XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS is an entertaining hour geared for all family members. Its episodes are varied and they make us cry and make us laugh. If you want an enjoyable hour, I would highly recommend watching this marvelous series. I hope it lasts for quite a number of seasons.



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