Everytime the first spring days appear and Easter arrives, I feel like watching Xena: Warrior Princess. Now you’re probably wondering what the hell has Xena to do with Easter, right? And also why am I talking about Easter when it’s the end of May..
Well, first of all, I’ve been meaning to write this post for a veeeery long time – since Easter to be precise. Unfortunately, due to many uncontrollable circumstance and lack of inspiration to write despite having topics, I not only didn’t get to write this post, but also ANY posts for that matter. Two long months! Where did the time go?! For my defense, I did think of trying to write something pretty much every day..
Anyway, a lot has happened since my last post – like turning 30, which to quote Lauren Graham I find a bit unfair, an epic trip to Italy to celebrate the new decade but mostly using that as an excuse to simply overindulge myself with all the deliciousness that I could physically take, and last but not least – the Royal Wedding. Yes, all events equally important.
But back to Xena! (and Dr. Quinn eventually).
Easter gives me the Xena vibes, simply because of the fond childhood memories of me and my sis, who was totally obsessed with the show by the way – and when I say obsessed I mean torturing me with posters of Xena everywhere, going to Xena conventions, dressing up like her and even making a fan movie with her friends – nuts, right?
I remember us spending the day outside and then picking up some leaves late in the afternoon for decorating the Easter Eggs (you know, that technique where you put the leaf on top of the egg, then wrap it in an old stocking and dive into a hot water colored by onion peels which then creates a golden Easter Egg with a beautiful shape of the leaf, right? What, no?! OMG, go and google it!) and then rushing home to catch the latest episode of Xena. Yes, these were the times of Hercules and Xena fighting the evil on our TV screens every early evening on the weekends! Ah, good old times..
Anyway, as Easter approached this year, and especially few weeks later when spring truly did arrive and I started to see all these leaves we usually picked up and used for the Easter Eggs, I naturally thought of Xena again. And then an idea stroke me. Two of my favorite shows when I was a kid were about two incredibly strong female characters – Xena (and Gabrielle) and Dr. Michaela Quinn. And I did spend an enormous amount of time with these characters!
You could probably not find two shows more different, but what they shared were strong lead female characters, who both believed in good, fought for what was right, not fearing anything (or not letting the fear show or stop them) and always standing their ground. One of them was actually pretty cool fighter, sort of Wonder Woman, but definitely the first female heroine of its kind to ever grace our TV screens. I mean, what message did that send to us little girls?
I still remember watching the first episode of Xena like it was yesterday! It was so cool to see a lady fighting like Hercules. A lady!! And by the way, its time slot was Friday 10pm at the beginning, so we caught it by chance when switching channels after Dr. Quinn’s latest episode ended (gracing the 9pm slot!). I mean, who else wants those times back when Xena was considered too violent for kids?! (unlike Hercules by the way, now how cool is that!). And isn’t there something slightly wrong with the fact that what we once considered too violent for kids is now okay for the morning slots?… Just saying…
But back to the topic. Contrary to Xena, which was pure fantasy, Dr. Quinn (or Dr. Mike if you will) was grounded in the real world and set in real historic settings. The story of a female doctor, something unheard of in those times, who arrived to the small town of Colorado Springs inhabited by a bunch of small-minded people who would never accept a female doctor even if they didn’t have any other and would rather go to the local barber for advice or even ‘surgeries’..
However, Michaela Quinn was not one to give up, and eventually, bit by bit she was accepted. And she kept on breaking boundaries – she became friendly with the Indians, learning and then applying their natural remedies into her own practice, later even fighting for their rights because she believed we are all equal – no matter the race or religion (ground breaking right?!). She became friends with Grace, a black woman who opened up the first Café in town, and encouraged her to not give up even when no one was showing up at first because people would not go to a place run by a black woman. She also took interest in Myra, a hooker working in Hank’s Saloon whom she later encouraged to leave and start a new, more virtuous life, not despising her for her job unlike the rest of the town people.
She always tried to open people’s minds, bring progress to the small town, and fought for what she believed was right and would not take no for an answer. She also did some crazy surgeries like that plastic surgery for the former train driver. I mean, clearly she can do anything! Dammit, she even became friends with the American president! Okay, okay… I guess, you could say it’s a fantasy world very much like Xena at some points 😀 But as P.T. Barnum would say, never let reality get in the way of a good story.
And these are good stories. Dr. Quinn for sure. I can watch the show over and over even today. Yes, of course, it does make me smile sometimes, and yes, it’s not always absolutely realistic, but what it’s tought me is to have an open mind, to not judge and especially to never give up. And also – that women and men are equal.
Xena on the other hand, has sadly become unwatchable for me, causing nothing but constant cringing these days. It’s just too much of a product of the times it was made in. But again – there she was, a female heroine who was equal to men, equal to Hercules, sending a clear message. And it was so much fun to watch!
I’ve never realized it before, but somehow I blame these two shows for the fact I grew up to be the kind of stubborn, idealistic, always standing my ground kinda girl. Or woman. (damn, I guess 30 makes me a woman now right?!).
Doctor Quinn did not fear to be different. Doctor Quinn did not fear to take the road no one has taken before her. Just because she was the first one to ever do so, did not mean she wouldn’t try. If she believed in something, she went for it. Being a doctor was her calling, her passion and she knew she could make a difference. And so she did. Her faith in good and in people’s good hearts was unbreakable, even if it has been put to test many times. Yet, she never stopped believing, she never gave up.
Xena did fight her own demons, but she found Gabrielle who inspired the good in her and who believed in people being good as much as Dr. Quinn did, instilling her faith in Xena as well. Gabrielle also tought the little girls watching, that not only love is the way, but also that even if you’re a pretty ordinary girl you can become a pretty cool chick if you just have enough courage and realize that the life you’re living is not meant for you and there’s something else calling you.. And as for Xena? Well, is there a better example of it’s never too late to change no matter how long we’ve been off the path…?
Now I know this is just a fiction, but I believe the image it provided to the audience, and to the little girls like me, was far more important than anyone could ever foreseen.
Here there were two shows made in the 90’s when no one even knew the term ‘women empowerment’ empowering the women in making. Without being pushy, without any strong emphasis, just for fun, making far bigger impact than any Ocean’s 8 and likes ever can (if you read my blogs you know how much I hate these ‘we can do what the boys do’ kinda films). And isn’t that the best and most effective way?
Is it a coincidence that we have a whole new generation of women here who speak up, and who put the whole women empowerment in motion? Maybe it’s just a coincidence… and maybe it’s not.
Maybe we all grew up on the same kind of stories, maybe we all looked up to the same kind of heroes. Maybe we were taught to be fearless and badass by Xena and Gabrielle and Dr. Michaela Quinn.
And perhaps I got it all wrong.
But ridiculous or not, these two shows tought me – or rather enhanced the stubbornness I was already born with. They made me believe my path is the right path even if no one walked it before me. In fact, that’s what makes it all the more exciting. And also that we are all equal, that we should not fear something just because we don’t know it and that we should always, always stand our ground and speak up. And last but not least, that we should be proud to be women, because we are strong and that we should encourage each other because then we can do some pretty awesome things.
The women empowerment is not new. It’s been here all along. Just a silent companion. Working its magic (at least) since the 90’s.
Are you a child of the Dr. Quinn or Xena era? Or did you prefer Hercules or Chicago Hope?
What shows shaped you?