Staying In(stant): Xena, The Badass Who Battled Her Way Into Our Hearts

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XenaPhoto: Courtesy of Universal Studios.
Full disclosure: We love TV. So much so that sometimes we'd rather spend a whole weekend in front of the tube than dancing in da club. Is a lack of television service holding you back from feeling our joy? No problem! You can get by just fine on Netflix, Hulu, and the myriad other streaming services rapidly taking over the home entertainment industry (thank you, Internet!).

Some shows are just better when binge-watched. Whether it's the latest BBC comedy, a PBS miniseries from the '70s, or just that cultish show prematurely scrubbed from a network, we're hooked on the stream. Staying In(stant) is your guide to the best of streaming content. Each week, we bring you a show we're obsessed with and think you should be, too.


This week: Xena: Warrior Princess, the quasi sci-fi, quasi historical, adventure show

Where To Watch: Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime

How I Got Hooked: I didn't grow up with cable TV, and the UPN was one of the few networks to come in clear on our basement television set. Not that I would complain. I'd always had a thing for Hercules (and, let's be honest, Kevin Sorbo and his flowing locks), but Xena: Warrior Princess was the ultimate.

It's likely Xena, the reformed warlord with a heart of gold, is the first example of a strong feminist I'd seen on the small screen. She doesn't apologize for her strength, she doesn't apologize for her femininity, and she doesn't find it necessary to separate the two. For example, this exchange from the season-one episode "The Black Wolf":

"Would you believe Xena taught me to swing a sword and embroider a linen for my wedding chest?" a young women named Flora remarks.

"You...embroider?" a male companion Diomedes asks incredulously.

"I have many skills," affirms Xena.

Beyond the strong feminist message, the show is escapism at its finest. There are historical references, mythological illusions, and magic. Plus, the whole shebang was executive-produced by Sam Raimi. Campy special effects? Shaky cam? Yeah.

Best Episode: To call them all gold isn't an exaggeration — and the crossover episodes with Hercules' Kevin Sorbo are A-plus work — but it's season four's "A Tale Of Two Muses" that has everything you could ask for: Bruce Campbell and a soul patch, Shiri Appleby sporting a hairdo straight out of the Thunderdome, a fairly modern flushable toilet (?), and a plot line inspired by Footloose. Yes, Xena and faithful sidekick Gabrielle find themselves in a town where dancing is outlawed. You see, the act of dance is eee-vil, and the ladies must defend the rebellious Tara (Appleby) against the village's draconian leader. The plot is pretty predictable, but what isn't is seeing typically straight-laced Xena break form. Yes, the warrior princess gets down on the dance floor.

Why You'll Love It: Xena, that's why. Xena wields a chakram with seemingly magical properties. Xena has the godlike ability to defy physics, to remain suspended in midair while opening up a can of whoop-ass on her adversaries. But, Xena is not a goddess. Xena is a princess — a princess of war. Xena delivers every line, every challenge, every putdown with the perfect blend of contempt and amusement. Xena also delivers a round-house kick that'd melt the beard off Walker Texas Ranger. Xena is friends with Helen of Troy and is the sort-of-protégée of Ares, god of war, which...may or may not be so great, really. Xena can block off the flow of blood to a person's brain with a flick of her wrist. And, she can restore it with another tap on the neck. Xena has her own PlayStation game, and you know who to ask if you need any cheats. Lastly, Xena delivers a battle cry — ay-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-iiii-YA! — that's half music, half "I'm comin' to getcha!"