Mar 9, 2010

Xena, Warrior Princess

I just finished watching the full show in order, thanks to Netflix and still being stuck in bed until I get a powerchair. It was surprisingly gratifying on a number of levels. There is an underlying consistency to its alternative myths, though its cosmology is full of holes. There was even a consistent, tragic, ultimately hopeless theology if you ignore the scattered eschatology. It confronted real questions of absolute morality, even when its world had no answers. Silly episodes aside, there was character growth that included greater humility. Humiliity having been kicked out of the virtue list in favor of self-esteem, that is cheeringly old fashioned! Many geek favorites have a tendency to forget previous solutions to problems, ala Star Trek's hastily abandoned transporter ressurection technique, but the Xena team either kept using them where appropriate or explaining why they wouldn't work. I think especially of the "Pinch". It shows up in many other instances, too. They took care to bring a cleanly defined ending for the many repeat side characters, even addressing the fate of future reincarnations.

What most amazed me, given the campy nature of the show, was the ability of the character's struggles to reach my heart strings. The circumstances surrounding their internal morality conflicts were often arbitrary, but explained well enough to put you in the character's shoes to confront their choices. Those choices, whatever the enforcing macguffin, were generally timeless. Where do your rights end and another's begin? How do you confront someone who you have wronged unhypocritically if they need to be confronted for the sake of others? If you don't believe in a mediator, how do you adress a crushing load of sin? If you recognize nothing greater than yourself, how can you be transformed? What weight does the law carry when it fails to bring justice? When is meekness more effective than brute strength? How can you decide which group or individual's needs outweigh the other's?

I really appreciated the chance to watch it all. Watching in order took my enjoyment and respect for the show to a completely different level. I would love to see more long running shows that tackle a good and evil deeper than environmentalism and cultural relativism. I don't have to agree with the answer, but I am grateful when they pose the question.