I loved Xena: Warrior Princess growing up. Xena was very likely my first adolescent crush. I used to get jealous when I saw her with other men, even though her dalliances were written into the script and not due to any actual passion (that I know of). I thought she was mine despite the fact that she only existed in the minds of writers and within predestined 50-minute story lines that I still watch nostalgically thanks to my DVD box set. My young heart was won over by the beauty, bravado, and, yes, the leather.
Although I was far too green at the time to play Hercules to the Xenas in my life, this cheesy 1990s television show was my first glimpse at a heartthrob alpha female—for lack of a better descriptor. Xena, played by former Mrs. New Zealand Lucy Lawless, was nothing like the fictional female characters I had previously seen or read about. She not only looked good, had good ideas, and did good things but was also (quite) good at kicking anyone’s ass who got in her way. The assess-kicked included brigands, warlords, pirates, gladiators, soldiers, emperors, kings, and even Greek gods, such as Ares and Hephaestus, invariably portrayed by men bulging with muscles and towering over Xena, who stood at 5’10” without heels.
At the same time, she had passionate love affairs with some of these same men, some of whom had fallen for her before she decided to use her formidable powers for good rather than evil—all of whom wanted to harness her power for their own ends but were seldom successful. She was always one step ahead of even the shrewdest enemies.
But Xena’s most pernicious adversary was herself, and it took six seasons for her to complete the continent-spanning search for her soul. Her journey led the loyal viewer to examine his or her own journey through albeit a less-interesting (real) world. Far from being threatened by Xena, I was in awe of her. I reasoned that if a woman like her existed in the real world, I better start lifting weights and performing heroic acts so that I could win her over one day.
This, of course, never happened. Yet here I am at 32 still yearning for a warrior princess to come and save me from the tyranny of modern life. While she’s at it, she could run for president in 2020.
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