Of all the reboots and revivals currently in development on the small screen, few are more unexpected than the upcoming Xena: Warrior Princess remake, if only because female-fronted fantasy series make up such a small percentage of current programming. But when Xena returns to NBC audiences, something else will be different than just the modern aesthetic and a new actress in the titular role: this warrior princess is going to be an in-the-open lesbian.
This reveal, though rather indirectly stated, comes directly from the Xena: Warrior Princess reboot writer and producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach. Here’s how he put it.
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.
If you’re thinking “hey, he didn’t say anything about lesbians” there, then take note of the mentioned relationship that had to live on through subtext in the original version. He’s referring to Xena and the farm girl-turned-princess-turned-queen Gabrielle, as played by Reese O’Connor. The two women were side by side for a lot of the show’s adventures, and their bodily juxtaposition at other points in the episodes hinted at something more romantic and weapon-less happening when no one else was looking. And now, apparently, we’re going to see that relationship broadened and developed.
If Javier Grillo-Marxuach needed inspiration for where he wanted to take their story, he’d only need to do a quick Google search to fall down a rabbit hole of fanfiction where Xena and Gabrielle’s love (among other things) sat front and center. Something tells me he’s got a lock on where he wants to take it, though, as his was also the mind behind the recent and all-too-brief romance between Clarke and Lexa on The 100 that ended when Lexa was killed off, a move that ticked off many fans of both the character and the existence of LGBT characters on TV in general. Grillo-Marxuach also referred to this incident in the same Tumblr post.
Now we’re even more intrigued by what a 2016 (or 2017) version of Xena: Warrior Princess will be like. Can Xena and Gabrielle’s battle-ready love make up for the absence of Lucy Lawless, who is currently busy on Ash vs Evil Dead? We’ll possibly find out later this year. Until then, we’re waiting to see if Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules will be going through any changes soon.