Whoosh! Issue 57 - June 2001

A PREGNANT ACTION HERO: WHAT A CONCEPT
By Xiomara Suro
Content copyright © 2001 held by author
WHOOSH! edition copyright © 2001 held by Whoosh!
1709 words


Comfy Chairs (01)
Mrs. Peel (02-03)
Wonder Woman (04-05)
Jamie Sommers (06-07)
Charlie's Angels (08)
Cagney and Lacey (09-11)
Xena (12-18)
Back in the Comfy Chair (19)
Articles
Biography



A PREGNANT ACTION HERO: WHAT A CONCEPT



Comfy Chairs



You're blocking a lot more light these days, you know?

Xena was a Pregnant Warrior Princess in Season Five.


[1] As I sat in my comfy chair watching for the tenth or twentieth time one of the fifth season episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess -- yes, I am suffering from Xena withdrawals during the summer months-a thought came to my mind, which in my case can be very hazardous to my health. I thought it amazing that Xena can carry a sword and a pregnancy with the same strength.



Mrs. Peel

[2] How many true pregnant action heroes have we had? Most action heroes have been male, so the possibilities are very unlikely. My mind took a long drive down memory lane and made the first stop at Mrs. Peel, Emma Peel, the other half of the famous Avengers (UK TV, 1961-1969) duo. She was a hero of her time. She had an authentic partnership with Mr. Steed. She was in every way his equal. She was beautiful, intelligent, independent, a great fighter, strong, sexy, and had a great sense of humor. She lived well outside the confines of the stereotypical woman of the mid- to late sixties. There was nothing she could not accomplish once she set her mind to it. Yes, I have to admit it, she was my role model.

[3] Mrs. Peel was everything a young woman with ambition and a driven personality could look up to. However, as advanced as this show was in its portrayal of Mrs. Peel, they would never have thought of allowing Mrs. Peel to become pregnant. There went the only possibility at the time to see a pregnant action-heroine.



Wonder Woman

[4] Right after Mrs. Peel, another great female action character hit the small tube -- Wonder Woman (TV, 1976-79). She was beautiful, strong, completely self-sufficient, and fearless. The character existed first as a comic book character, before the television show was created. Again, Diana Prince was a great role model for a new generation of young women.

[5] Wonder Woman was able to do almost anything and everything a man could do, and she did it just as well. To her detriment, however, she was forced to keep her identity hidden, just like Superman or Batman. In addition, she would never have been allowed to be pregnant. Not good odds yet for a pregnant action hero.



Jamie Sommers

[6] On the heels of Wonder Woman came Miss Jamie Sommers or, as she was fondly known, The Bionic Woman (TV, 1976-1978). She became a female action hero by pure chance. She was bionically reconstructed after a skydiving accident. Then she joined the OSI (Organization of Scientific Investigation) to help protect the United States from evil spy organizations.

[7] Again, this was not a bad concept. The program was a spin-off of The Six Million Dollar Man (1974-1978). The spin-off was just as successful as the original series and the public bought the idea. However, we have to realize that Steve Austin and Jamie Sommers were in love and, on several occasions, wanted to get married. This was something the writers were not going to allow to happen. Neither would they have allowed Jamie Sommers to become pregnant.



Charlie's Angels

[8] After Jamie Sommers, there were not very many female action heroes on television, with the exception of Charlie's Angels (TV, 1976-1981). Again, the show had a good concept. Charlie's Angels portrayed beautiful, intelligent women who had non-traditional jobs. They fell in love, they were sexy, they were not afraid of their sexuality, they worked hard, and they were able to manage very well in a man's world. Again, however, the idea of one of them becoming pregnant was totally out of the question.



Cagney and Lacey

[9] A breakthrough did come along in the mid-Eighties with Cagney And Lacey (TV, 1982-1988), a television show that depicted two women partnered as detectives for the New York City Police Department. Christine Cagney was the daughter of a retired cop and a socialite. Mary Beth Lacey was a married woman and mother of two from a blue-collar background. This idea broke though many barriers. At first, many people could not believe or accept the fact that the NYPD might even consider putting two females together as detectives. However, the show became a hit, and the detectives had a long and successful battle with the "scum" of the streets of New York City.

[10] It was during this show that we see our first pregnant television cop. Up to this point, not even Police Woman (TV, 1974-1978) had thought of the fact that a policewoman might get pregnant. At that time, not even the U.S. Army was buying the idea that a woman who was pregnant could function in what they perceived as a hostile environment. We have to realize that it was not until sometime in the Eighties that women were allowed to stay in the military after they became pregnant. Prior to that, they were asked very politely to leave. Therefore, being able to see a female pregnant cop on television was groundbreaking.

[11] The writers of the show worked through the pregnancy and the show continued. However, of course, we have to realize that it was Lacey, the married one, who was pregnant, not Cagney, the single one. Had Cagney been pregnant, can you imagine the controversy it would have stirred? We do not have to use too much imagination. Remember the uproar that was caused by the pregnancy of Murphy Brown (TV, 1988-1998). She was an anchor for a news program who was single, got pregnant, and kept the child. Even the Vice President of the United States at the time used this plot development as a political soapbox.



Xena



Brings a whole new meaning to 'moody'

Even when about to give birth, Xena is a force to be reckoned with.


[12] Therefore, here we have the two precedents that pave the way for our current situation. A married NYPD detective and a single Washington DC anchor. Interesting precedents. So when I read that Lucy Lawless, the actor who plays Xena, was pregnant, I sat in my very comfy chair and waited to see what was going to happen next. I wondered how the writers would handle Xena's pregnancy. More importantly, I wondered how the writers would handle Xena getting pregnant.

[13] To my surprise, the writers of the show came out fighting. The character of Xena was impregnated artificially, while being awakened from the dead by an angel. This was not just any old angel. The angel who impregnated Xena was a female angel who, while alive, had been Xena's worst enemy. In addition, Xena had given up her light to this character so she could be free and would be able to go to heaven.

[14] This was great. Therefore, Callisto was the father of Xena's baby. That was a stroke of genius from the writer. However, the question remained, how would the audience react to this? How would the critics and the censors feel about this story line? To my complete astonishment, they bought it completely, and Xena continued her travels throughout the world, pregnant and all.

[15] Yes, Xena continued to fight her way through the world. Xena never stopped being what she was. The character continued to be what the character had always been, with a slight difference of course. However, the writers worked very hard at keeping Xena a strong and powerful woman who was not afraid to get into a good fight when it meant defending the underdog.

[16] Of course Xena found herself learning new ways of fighting that did not involve so much physical activity. There were also the "Xena lite" episodes. Xena never stopped being who or what she was. This again surprised me and showed me the dedication and respect the show has for its audience.

I want a gallon of ice cream and a basket of pickles -- NOW!

Gabrielle had a quickened pregnancy in Season Three.


[17] There is no longer just the possibility of a pregnant action hero; there IS a pregnant action hero. Xena, the hero we see every week on television is simply a reflection of today's society, where we see daily all those modern day heroes who put their lives on the line so we can rest in our comfy chairs and watch television.

[18] Xena is a character who reminds us of all those women, pregnant or not, who go out and do things that many of us would not even think of doing. They might not be heroes in our eyes, but they are definitely heroes in the eyes of those who depend on them and love them.



Back in the Comfy Chair

[19] In addition, as I sit here in my comfy chair, again watching a specific episode of Xena, I have to conclude that the concept of a pregnant action hero was long over due. It pays great homage to all those women who are daily heroes and do not even realize it.



Articles

Xiomara Suro, "View of Xena: Warrior Princess, A" WHOOSH #42 (March 2000)
http://whoosh.org/issue42/suro1.html

Xiomara Suro, "An Admirer, A Follower, A Fan" WHOOSH #50 (November 2000)
http://whoosh.org/issue50/contributors50f.html#suro50

Xiomara is also a reviewer for the WHOOSH episode guide, writing under the name "Beboman".



Biography

Xiomara Suro Xiomara Suro

Xiomara Suro (Beboman) was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. After retiring from the military and a 10-year stint in law enforcement, she went to hide in Nevada and now works in the surveillance department of a casino in a Nevada hotel. When she is not writing short stories, poetry, or commentaries for Xena episodes, she enjoys riding her Harley-Davidson in the company of her husband "Wolfman". She is the mother of two and the grandmother of two.
Favorite episode: A DAY IN THE LIFE (39/215) and IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE (24/124), LOCKED UP AND TIE DOWN (75/407), LYRE, LYRE HEARTS ON FIRE (100/510)
Favorite line: Xena: "Be Nice". THE GREATER GOOD (21/121)
First episode seen: A DAY IN THE LIFE (39/215) (after a bad spill on a Harley)
Least favorite episode: IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL (72/404)




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