In 1995, Lucy Lawless helped change the face of television with her portrayal of Xena Warrior Princess. Some say she paved the way for other strong female female leads like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sydney Bristow of Alias. Girls and young women saw a heroine that took charge, forged ahead, and got the job done. Beyond that, they saw a woman who owned her world.
Writers endowed Xena with a warrior's heart, but Lawless shaped the character in to a role model. Twenty-one years later, Xena still breaks into the top ten of nearly every list of strong female leads. She showed us that women could be princesses without tiaras, and that it was okay to fight like a girl. But more than that, Xena, in spite of the campiness of the show, taught us some of the strongest life lessons we could ever learn from a television show.
1. Your Choices Change You Forever
Xena made a lot of bad decisions in her life, and those choices cost her dearly. She spent six years trying to atone for her sins, but she could never erase the evil she'd done. In Episode 1.03, Dreamworker, she tells Gabrielle that the surface of the water is calm, but when she tosses the rock, the stone forever changes the lake. It's a powerful reminder to think before you act, to consider the consequences of your actions because you may be paying for them for the rest of your life.
2. We Can't Run From Our Problems
In the 6th episode of Season One, The Reckoning, Ares frames Xena for killing villagers in an effort to recruit her back to the dark side. The problem seems overwhelming, and while Gabrielle is all for Xena running to save her life, Xena chooses to stay and fight. As easy as it would be to run away from our problems sometimes, we can't ever really escape them. Whether it's money issues, concerns at work, or sickness, we have no choice but to confront them, to deal with them the best way we can, because even if we escape for a little while, when we return, the problems will be there to greet us.
3. Only Love And Forgiveness Can End A Cycle Of Violence
In episode 1.21, Callisto, whose family was killed by Xena's former army, begins exacting revenge by impersonating Xena on a bloody rampage. She could not forgive or forget what Xena had done. Her hatred festered, and she became the very thing Xena used to be...evil. Violence is a part of our everyday world. Social media is rife with arguments between people over politics, religion, and so much more. Not a day goes by where someone doesn't get killed. A large part of it is because we don't care for one another like we should. People hold onto grudges, and the hate makes them bitter, which leads to violence. Compassion goes a long way toward healing hurts.
4. Friends Are A Gift
Xena and Gabrielle go through hell for one another, battling warlords, gods, and evil spirits. They have each other's backs, and even though they're sometimes torn apart by anger and misunderstanding, they always find their way back to one another. That's what friends do. While A Solstice Carol, the ninth episode of Season Two, is about the spirit of the holiday season, its true message is the importance of honoring your friendships. We shouldn't take our friends for granted, and if the friendship of Xena and Gabrielle taught us anything, it was how much we really do depend on the ones we've let into our lives as friends.
Xena Warrior Princess was a show meant to entertain us, but the writers did a phenomenal job adding nuggets of wisdom we could use to improve our lives. That's just one of the many reasons why this show will be remembered forever.
What did you learn from your favorite episode of Xena?