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The Xena: Warrior Princess Scene That Aged Poorly

"Xena: Warrior Princess" was a weekend mainstay of syndicated television in the '90s. At one point (according to the LA Times), "Xena" and its sibling show "Hercules: the Legendary Journeys," were more popular than the perhaps better-remembered "Baywatch."

"Xena" starred Lucy Lawless ("Battlestar Galactica," "Parks and Recreation") as the titular warrior princess. A former warlord, Xena is set on a path of redemption by Hercules (Kevin Sorbo). After choosing to atone for her past misdeeds, she wanders ancient Greece (and later Rome, England, and China, and Japan) righting wrongs and getting into all sorts of sexy misunderstandings with her sidekick Gabrielle.

Xena was a comparatively progressive show for its time. Although the series' main cast was white, the guest stars were often people of color, and one episode was notable for featuring a kiss between HIV-positive activist/actor Karen Dior and Lucy Lawless. As The Mary Sue notes, the kiss was "an act that challenged then-current notions regarding AIDS and methods of transmission of the disease." But even an incredibly forward-thinking show can be held back by skittish executives.

The Xena credits weren't allowed to make the show to look too gay

"Xena: Warrior Princess" had a huge queer following. The subtextual relationship between Xena and Gabrielle became more and more textual as the series progressed, but the two were never an explicit couple. Why? Executives were scared.

"We were very aware that there was only so much we could do, because it was a show on network television," Renee O'Connor, who played Gabrielle, told Entertainment Weekly. "So anytime Rob would push the envelope as much as he could, he had to work within certain guidelines." These guidelines included making sure the Xena and Gabrielle were never in the same shot during the opening credits.

"Before we started shooting 'Xena,' we shot the material that we were going to use to create the opening title sequences with," creator Rob Tapert said in the same EW story. "The studio was so concerned that it would be perceived as a lesbian show that they would not allow us to have Xena and Gabrielle in the same frame of the opening titles." Today, most networks would probably just let "Xena" be lesbian show.

In a way, this is more impactful than other shows with poorly aged scenes. The opening credits have aged poorly, which affects every single episode of the show. We've come a long way with LGBTQ+ representation in the past 30-odd years.