Gay Xena: Warrior Princess TV reboot is ‘dead’
A planned reboot of cult lesbian TV series Xena: Warrior Princess has been scrapped.
Last year it was reported that NBC has ordered a new Xena pilot from writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach, the showerunner of acclaimed series The 100.
1990s TV series Xena: Warrior Princess gained a strong lesbian following during its initial run due to an implied romance between Xena and her companion Gabrielle, though it largely remained subtext at the time.
However, the planned reboot would have seen Xena out of the closet, with the gay romance expected to feature heavily in the new series.
In a blow to fans this week, NBC confirmed that the project is “dead” after Grillo-Marxuach departed the project.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Grillo-Marxuach walked away from the project a few months ago over creative differences, with the network opting to cancel the reboot entirely after his exit.
NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke confirmed that the project “is dead”.
She explained that after looking at “some material”, NBC had concluded that Xena “didn’t warrant the reboot”.
However, the door may be open to different Xena projects in future, “because it’s such a beloved title”.
Grillo-Marxuach had told fans that he plans to be a little more forthcoming about the undeniable chemistry between Xena and Gabrielle with this updated version.
“Xena will be a very different show made for very different reasons,” he said during a Q&A on Tumblr.
“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 [sic] 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.”
Xena originally debuted in 1995, as a spin-off to the equally mythological TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.
During its six-season run, the show’s popularity exploded – largely due to the on/off lesbian relationship, with the pair now regarded as feminist and LGBT icons.
Xena writer Liz Friedman previously admitted that the romantic relationship between the two was something the network didn’t want to deal with in the ’90s.
In an interview with AfterEllen she said: “It came up all the time.
“The studio was very worried about it, and I was the one saying to them ‘Guys, no one’s ever gonna think they’re gay.’
“Because my now wife, then girlfriend, and I would go to the supermarket and I am a white Jew, she’s Creole and people would look at us, and it was clear that we were connected in some way, and they’d go ‘Are you two sisters?’ That f*ck each other!
“What was bizarre to me that lesbians were so invisible in the real world, but then something just happened and I just assumed no one would ever think that about Xena and Gabrielle.
“But there was a shot of the main title where Xena is kissing a male lover but it’s shot over his back and he had a ponytail and [the network was] like ‘It looks like she’s making out with a woman!’”
Friedman had voiced tentative support for the reboot, saying: “I do think the idea of making what was subtext text is interesting and what you can add to it.”