In a time of ancient gods, warlords and kings, fans in turmoil cried out for a Xena reboot — or did they?
Xena: Warrior Princess gained a cult following during its run from 1995 to 2001, and its legacy still lives on. The series was even life-changing for its audience, and represents a time in our lives that is irreplaceable. So, when the NBC revamp of the '90s series was announced, fans immediately had mixed reactions.
While exploring Xena and Gabrielle's romance would have captured hearts all over again, replacing Lucy Lawless as the titular character was a letdown. But recently, the network axed their plans on the project for now, calling the incarnation "dead."
We never got a glimpse of the Xena reboot, but dropping it avoids potential problems for a franchise that's so beloved. Overall, this project is better off left on the back burner, and here's why:
The '90s Camp Of Xena Is What Made The Show Special
Xena is regarded as a groundbreaking, feminist show that changed the landscape of television. It centered on a badass lead who was never afraid to fight, but it didn't shy away from campy theatrics that were typical in the '90s. Xena's action scenes were fierce, but also exaggerated and downright hilarious. The camp became integral to the series, and it would be tough to imagine a version without it.
A modern reboot couldn't reproduce them. Attempting to be campy in a show today would feel forced, outdated, and viewers wouldn't take it seriously. It wouldn't be terrible if the now-defunct Xena reboot took on a serious tone, but doing so would remove a core element that originally made it memorable.
A Less Queer Version Of Xena Would Be Disappointing
The main idea of the reboot was to make Xena openly gay (she was bi in the original run), and fully explore her relationship with Gabrielle. Its executive producer, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, expressed that Xena shouldn't return if the romance isn't honestly depicted, and he's right:
"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."
Grillo-Marxuach ended up leaving the project before its termination, citing creative differences as the reason why. We'll never know what those differences were, but since he was adamant about including #LGBT representation, fans assume that NBC wanted the reboot to be less queer.
It's not worth moving forward with the reboot if representation is abandoned. After years of subtext, letting the characters be open with their sexuality is exactly what fans deserve.
During the original years of Xena, representation of queer women was low, but the series finally gave us visibility. Xena and Gabrielle are regarded as lesbian icons who paved the way for lesbian relationships on #TV today. The two warriors even inspired queer women to come out and be proud of who they are.
Such an inspiring romance would need to be done justice in a reboot, and if they failed, it would fall flat entirely. Too often, same-sex relationships on TV are reduced to stereotypes and harmful tropes, such as "Bury Your Gays." Preserving Xena and Gabrielle's impactful love is safer than risking possible mistreatment and disappointing longtime fans.
Not Everything Has To Be Rebooted
Reboots continue to be a constant trend in media today. It's natural to miss your favorite shows and movies, and remaking them provides a sense of nostalgia. But then again, not everything needs the reboot treatment. Instead of following a trend, networks should focus on bringing new, original ideas to light. Xena was a spinoff of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, but the idea behind the show was brand new. The warrior blazed the trail for female characters on modern TV, so why not keep the trail going with something fresh?
Also, an original show has the power to improve queer representation, and begin working away from negative tropes. Xena's reboot could've achieved that, but before its cancelation, it already looked to be in trouble on that end.
Xena was more than just a show — it represented an era of television, and a time when queer women everywhere felt revitalized. Creating a reboot wasn't the strongest idea since it made little-to-no progress, but thankfully, the original show's legacy will never fade away.
Do you think canceling the Xena reboot was the right move? Share your thoughts in the comments below!