Whoosh! Issue 27 - December 1998

IAXS project #333
By Fiona Hough
Copyright © 1998 held by author
1302 words

Introduction (01-03)
The New Adventures of Superman (04-07)
Moonlighting (08-09)
The X-Files (10-11)
Xena: Warrior Princess (12-17)

Why Subtext Should Never Become Maintext in Xena: Warrior Princess


[1] Consider Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (TV, 1993-1997), Moonlighting (TV, 1985-1989), The X-Files (TV, 1993-), and Xena: Warrior Princess (TV, 1995-). Why am I asking you to consider two defunct and two current cult TV programs? The answer is subtext.

Come on...YOU be Bruce Willis this time.

Callisto 'plays' with Xena.

[2] That subtext exists in Xena: Warrior Princess (XWP) is not open to debate. It is there. The producers admit it, the stars admit it, and frequent guest star Hudson Leick (Callisto) stated in Dreamwatch magazine in 1998:

Did I have an affair with Lucy Lawless, and what was it like?! I feel the sexual energy. It's human nature. Is it planned? Yeah, we play with it, I play with it, because I feel it and it's fun to play with!

[3] However, the purpose of this article is not to prove the existence of subtext. Instead, it is to advance the opinion that if the subtext ever became maintext, then it would finish Xena: Warrior Princess as we know it (boo, hiss).

Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

Are those glasses in your secret compartment or are you just happy to see me?

A doomed relationship?

[4] Lois And Clark had a great idea. It was a modern day take on the Superman myth. It featured beautiful women (Teri Hatcher as Lois and Tracy Scoggins as Cat), good looking men (Dean Cain as Clark and Michael Landes and Justin Whalin as Jimmy), snappy scripts, clever plots, fantastic guest stars, and lots of sexual tension - or subtext, if you will - between the two lead characters.

[5] However, the producers decided to give in to fan pressure and let the two leading characters get together romantically. They did this in two stages. First, they allowed them to date (and allowed Lois, possibly the most cosmically stupid woman that ever was, to finally realize that Clark and Superman were the same person). Secondly, TPTB married them off. I am sure this fulfilled many peoples' fantasies (me included, to a certain extent), but instead of broadening the scope of stories available, it spelled the beginning of the end of a once interesting program.

[6] We then saw such interesting storylines as:

  1. Lois and Clark buying a house;
  2. Lois and Clark arguing over who was the best cook; and,
  3. Lois losing her memory and forgetting that she was married/in love with Clark.
[7] Do not get me the wrong here (or send me abusive e-mails). I enjoyed this program. But the sad fact is that even bringing back Lex Luthor could not save the show once the producers started down the slippery path of giving in to temptation.


[8] Moonlighting was another great idea with lots of scope. It had the same type of good-looking people (Cybil Shepherd as Maddy and Bruce Willis, with hair, as David). The creators produced fantastically funny episodes (remember the episode dedicated to Shakespeare? With the horses sponsored by BMW and Mercedes?) There was also a huge amount of underlying subtext or sexual tension between the two lead characters.

[9] After carrying on the "will they/won't they" aspect of the program for five seasons, the powers that be decided to let the characters get together. The series then took a huge turn for the worse. Episode after episode became devoted to David and Maddy's relationship problems. The series lost most of its zest and humor and ended soon afterwards.

The X-Files

Wait...I think you have pate' in your eye.

Going the way of LOIS AND CLARK?

[10] This is a hard one to call as it is currently still a very successful phenomenon. Since The X-Files began, there has been much debate and conjecture about the relationship between Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson). In this respect, it runs almost parallel to Xena.

[11] Although producer Chris Carter has repeatedly stated that none of the agents will become romantically involved, we have seen and have been told of evidence to the contrary, to wit, the near kiss in the feature film The X-Files: Fight The Future (Rob Bowman, 1998) and the expected apparent kiss that will happen in season six. Only time will tell us about the television lifespan of our two favorite F.B.I agents.

Xena: Warrior Princess

Mommy...are they telling secrets?

Just friends?

[12] The comparisons to XWP are apparent. It has beautiful lead actresses (Lucy Lawless as Xena and Renee O'Connor as Gabrielle), handsome men (Kevin Smith as Ares and Erik Thomson as Hades), great scripts, and lots and lots of attraction/subtext between the two leads.

[13] The two lead characters in XWP love each other a great deal, that much is obvious. The subtext is there for anyone to see, if they want to. However, I do not believe that this program will follow the lead of the now defunct previously mentioned program for several reasons. The most prominent reasons are:

  1. 'The Powers That Be' would not allow such a blatant lesbian relationship on the television as it would alienate a portion of their audience. Look at what happened to Ellen (TV, 1993-1998).

  2. The people involved in making Xena, such as Rob Tapert, Liz Friedman, and of course, Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor, obviously care enough about what happens to the series not to finish it before its time. Look at the rumors about the 'Sappho' episode. Lawless wants to play Sappho hankering after Gabrielle (wouldn't we all?), but the episode is on the backburner.

[14] Two of the above mentioned programs ended, possibly prematurely, because of the writers giving in to the attraction/sexual tension/subtext between the two lead characters. Only time will tell what having Mulder and Scully kiss and possibly become intimate will do to The X-Files.

[15] Xena should be left in the very capable hands of its executive team, who obviously know what they are doing (other than Joxer, the episode KING CON (61/315), and putting us through the 'Rift', of course). Furthermore, Xena has an advantage over all of the aforementioned programs. It has the most talented group of fan fiction writers I have ever had the privilege to read. Writers such as Missy Good, Bat Morda, and B L Miller (apologies to anyone not mentioned here, but the list is endless) give us the romantic relationship we want to see without it having to pass the censors' critical eye. And we still get the television program -- cool or what?!

[16] All programs, including Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Moonlighting, The X-Files, and Xena: Warrior Princess, have a television lifespan. Eventually, all good things must come to an end, but hopefully they do not end prematurely.

[17] As a final shot, however - if and when Xena finishes, could I cast my vote for Xena planting a smacker on Gabrielle just to clarify the matter?


Fiona Hough Fiona Hough
I'm an exiled Welsh staff nurse in Liverpool, England. I'm currently attempting to tempt anyone who will listen to watch Xena, as it gets a bit lonely being the only Xenite in Liverpool! I'm generally an outdoorsy type of girl (as my picture shows!) who aims to transplant to New Zealand in February of 1999 for a bit of traveling. I'm also rather fanatical about my Welsh/Celtic heritage and will gladly answer any queries about Celts for any fan fiction endeavors!
Favorite episode: IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE (24/124)
Favorite line: Xena: "I couldn't let you sail off with my best friend, could I?" LOST MARINER (45/221); Ares: "I've been hanged, swung over a fire and nearly shish-kabobed on razor sharp spikes. How do you mortals get from day to day, y'know?!?" TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (32/208)
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