Will the ‘Xena’ Reboot Drop the “Sub-” From That Lesbian Subtext?

     March 14, 2016

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It’s no secret that some stories in film, TV, and other mediums featured LGBT subtexts and innuendoes due to harsher, discriminatory times. One can argue the X-Men comics, for instance, were metaphors for oppression, given how many zealots offered mutants a “cure” for their abilities and met these superheroes with fear and aggression. Times have clearly changed as North Star said his marriage vows on the cover of Astonishing X-Men and Iceman came out of the closet last year. Another property that may follow suit is Xena.

Javier Grillo-Marxuach, a co-executive producer on The 100, took to his personal blog this month to address a fan comment about what happened regarding a certain character on the show. As he’s also a writer and executive producer on Xena, he also teased the larger implications of this reboot:


I am a very different person with a very different world view than my employer on The 100 – and my work on The 100 was to use my skills to bring that vision to life. Xena will be a very different show 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.

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Image via Universal

It’s long been thought that the warrior princess (played by Lucy Lawless) and Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor) were more than just hero and sidekick, fueled when the two exchanged “I love you”s. But even Lawless became a believer that they were “definitely gay” after the series finale, which featured a mouth-to-mouth “water transfer” filmed to look like a full on kiss. The actress said in a 2003 interview:

“There was always a ‘Well, she might be or she might not be’ but when there was that drip of water passing between their lips in the very final scene, that cemented it for me. Now it wasn’t just that Xena was bisexual and kinda liked her gal pal and they kind of fooled around sometimes, it was ‘Nope, they’re married, man.’”


Modern Family, Netflix’s Sense 8, and even The Legend of Korra are some examples of how LGBT visibility has expanded in the TV landscape, but this reboot could be one that serves an important and emotional purpose for some fans of the show. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see exactly what Grillo-Marxuach meant by his statement as NBC’s reboot of the property is still very much in development.

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Image via Universal

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Image via Universal


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