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It was during the fall of first season when I was feeling nostalgic for She-Ra episodes. I was lamenting the fact that there didn't seem to be any strong female characters on television anymore (certainly not in most cartoons these days; I pity the younger generation). And then I saw a commercial which reminded me of the Princess of Power (although to this day, I don't understand the "Warrior Princess" title). So one night, I decided to give Xena a try. It was "Cradle of Hope," and it was fun. In another couple of weeks, I was hooked.

And I remember what initially drew me into the show. Xena was just what I'd been wanting at the time--a strong woman who doesn't follow the modern trend of being able to protect herself to an extent, but ultimately relying on some strong man. I was fascinated by the dark side of her character; she was a character trying to overcome and atone for a tragic past, making her a rather tortured person (no simplistic "good girl" transformation for her!). And there was Gabrielle, who I really liked. I liked how she talked too much; I liked how she was annoying. She complemented Xena's dark, brooding nature well.

And the shows were fun. I preferred the dark episodes to silly slapstick ones, but they always fun and contained amusing dialogue. I enjoyed researching the mythological elements that various shows played with.

I liked how the show could not make a black-and-white differentiation between good and evil because of the dark side to Xena's character, how it often waxed philosophical. Even the fighting was something I rather enjoyed watching because sword fights, unlike gunfights, require skill, and it was fun to see Xena being creative. And the music (which is a major strength of the show--I love the soundtrack) that was played during battles gave them a surreal quality. I enjoyed the first couple of seasons...

But things changed. First of all, going to college made me too busy to keep up with something I was no longer obsessed with. I would have caught up over break, but when I tried, I was disappointed. Its growing popularity had made the show become far too pop culture.

First of all, I don't like how Xena constantly regresses of late. She's become positively fickle. Flashbacks to her past are okay, but I don't like how incidents in her present suddenly throw her back into the mentality of a raging warlord.

And some scenes I just don't buy--like when Xena, enraged over Solon's death, attempts to kill Gabrielle. As sensationalistic as the episode before was, it had set up some room for drama--and then it was wasted on "Bitter Suite," which began with an unbelievable beginning only to turn into a musical which I must say I could have done without. X:WP has become a series in which I can completely disregard entire episodes if I find them inconsistent with others or with the characterization of Xena or Gabrielle. Xena's other brother, for instance--talk about a weak plot device! Who decided to suddenly create him, and where on earth did he vanish to afterwards?

I could seriously do without the amount of violence that's on the show. How many times do they have to bash the "bad guys" before knocking them unconscious? But then, I'm not a viewer who watches primarily for the sex & violence. I know that the show could not exist without these to some degree (Xena without fight scenes?! That's just wrong), and to some extent, I admit I find them entertaining, but I think that the series employed them more tastefully in the early years. Of course, it's not up to me to make that decision; after all, ratings are what networks want... And the violent side to the show does have a heartening aspect in that it portrays strong women; I was standing in a store once and overheard some young boys pointing to some X:WP merchandise commenting, "Oh, cool, it's Xena!"

I really don't like what's become of Gabrielle. I liked it when she talked her way out of messes. It was fun to see. When she initially fought with her staff, it seemed fitting...and then it slowly started getting in the way of the aspects of Gabrielle that defined her personality in the beginning. Like her knack for words, her identity as a storyteller... So I'm actually looking forward to seeing "The Way," and although most fans seem to be unhappy with Gabrielle's sudden desire to follow the path of ahimsa, I'm quite happy with the idea. Of course, I haven't seen what the writers did afterwards yet.

I'm seriously amused by how Xena makes mushy "Gabrielle, how could I do without you?" speeches in nearly every episode lately. I don't mind it; it's just a major change from the first couple of seasons. This change actually signifies a logical progression, so I've decided it's a good thing. Character development is always good.

So now I'm back into it. It's because the India arc caught my interest and I started watching. It was something I could see every day during the summer that was brand new since I'd missed most of the third and all of the fourth seasons. And now the first season's started again, reminding me why I like the show (I think that the first season may be my favorite, not that there aren't other episodes I've liked).

So that's my story. I'll probably continue keeping up with the show. I like the characters, and it's not so pop culture that it turns me off...


the subversive pomegranate
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Xena: Warrior Princess is MCA/Universal and whoever else legally owns it. This page is 1999 shilpa.