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Lost Girl vs. Xena — Episode 74

November 20, 2014 by Drinks at The Dal

Bo and Kenzi in Something Wicked This Fae Comes

Photo Credit: Giant Ape Media

We have previously discussed the similarities and influences of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Lost Girl, but Xena: Warrior Princess also played an important part in laying the foundation for female-led fantasy shows. We discuss the similarities between Lost Girl and Xena, including their redemption story arcs, strong female friendships, and importance to the LGBT community.

Flawed Heroine on a Path of Redemption

  • Bo and Xena are both heroines that believe they are “a monster.” Similar themes of the heroine believing they will never redeem themselves for their past mistakes or the people they’ve killed.
  • Xena’s guilt over the all the people she’s killed as a warlord, the enemies she’s created because of her past (Callisto, Alti, Caesar)
  • Bo’s guilt over Kyle and her ten year killing spree
    • In “Raging Fae,” Bo says, “For a long time, I’d forgotten what I am to humans: a monster.”
    • In “There’s Bo Place Like Home,” Bo says, “I’m not changing into a monster. I’ve always been one. I’ve done so many terrible things and that is why the Dawning is happening to me so soon.”

Best Friend/Girlfriend as that Redemption

  • In “Callisto,” Gabrielle says, “If something happens to me, you will not become a monster. There’s only one way to end the cycle of hatred, and it’s through love and forgiveness.”
  • In “Chakram,” Xena and Gabrielle have this exchange:
    Xena: “I can’t help wondering if we’re doing the right thing. Restoring this darkness, my violence. Can that really be good?”
    Gabrielle: “I think it’s vital. I know that sounds strange coming from me. I think you have to know the darkest part of yourself to be whole.”
    Xena: “But this way I harm no one.”
    Gabrielle: “But Xena, what about the people who harm others? Xena, you have this balance of lightness and darkness. Without both of those, the very best in you is defenseless.”
  • In “Raging Fae,” Lauren says, “You’re a different person than you were then and the person that you are now, I absolutely love.”
  • In “Faes Wide Shut,” Lauren talks Bo down from her dark place.
  • Stephanie points out that Kenzi also brings Bo back from her dark place, especially at the beginning of the series.

Bo and Kenzi after fight in It's a Fae, Fae, Fae, Fae World

Heroine & Her Sidekick

  • Even though Lost Girl is much more of an ensemble piece, at its core is Bo and Kenzi’s relationship just as Xena and Gabrielle’s relationship is the backbone of Xena.
  • Much like Kenzi is Bo’s heart, Gabrielle seems to be Xena’s conscious, keeping her on her path to fight for the greater good.

Balance of Drama and Comedy

  • Episodes range from dramatic with high stakes to slapstick comedy. Both shows can have completely different tones from episode to episode.
  • Xena is very aware of being a campy, tongue-in-cheek show, even in its fight scenes. Xena’s comedic episodes include “A Day in the Life” and “Old Ares Had A Farm.”
  • Lost Girl‘s high comedy episodes include “Original Skin,” “Confaegion,” and “Groundhog Fae.”
  • Kenzi provides most of the witty one-liners in Lost Girl, while Joxer provides the physical, bumbling comedic relief in Xena.
  • Dramatic episodes like Xena’s “Ides of March” and Lost Girl’s “Dark Horse” with major character deaths.

Roman the Bacchus in Faes Wide Shut

Fantasy Tropes

  • Both shows draw heavily from mythology.
    • Xena’s tagline: “In a time of ancient gods, warlords and kings, a land in turmoil cried out for a hero.” Gods such as Ares, Aphrodite, and Hades make appearances casting spells, enchanting scrolls, and throwing up obstacles for the heroine.
    • Lost Girl has the world of the Fae, the Light and Dark sides and Underfae. Fae that appear regularly that are seen in mythology include a succubus, shape shifter, siren, and ogre.
  • Mystical weapons: Xena’s chakram, the Siracon Trick gives to Bo
  • Body switching episodes: Xena has “Intimate Stranger,” “Ten Little Warlords” and “The Quest,” while Lost Girl has “Original Skin”
Death Has Loopholes
  • Xena and Gabrielle died multiple times and came back to life.
  • The sacrifices of Gabrielle for Xena and Kenzi for Bo
  • Search/quest by the heroine in the following season, will do anything to get them back

Daddy Issues

  • Xena and Ares
    • Is Ares Xena’s father? Xena makes a pretty convincing argument in “The Furies.”
    • Where does Xena get her superhuman abilities from?
  • Bo and the Pyrippus
    • Bo’s mysterious origins have been a theme throughout Lost Girl
    • Bo has hybrid blood
    • Bo as “the one” and “the queen”

Found Families

  • Bo and Kenzi as besties, Xena and Gabrielle as best friends (and more??)
  • In “Ties That Bind,” Xena says, “We both have families we were born into. But sometimes families change, and we have to build our own. For me, our friendship binds us closer than blood ever could.”
  • In “Legacy,” Xena says, “Gabrielle, in everyone’s life there’s something that goes beyond the greater good. That’s what you are in my life. I wasn’t about to let you die out there if there was something I could do about it.”
  • In “There’s Bo Place Like Home,” Bo says, “I have a family, mama. And they love and protect me without question. That girl that I came here with, she’s like my sister. When I’m with her, I know that everything’s gonna be okay.”
  • In “Destiny’s Child” Dyson and Lauren tell Bo that, “We’re your family.” “Your weird, complicated, completely dysfunctional family.” “But we are your family, nonetheless.”
  • In “Dark Horse,” Bo says, “See, it’s not just sucking chi that makes me special. It’s that I learned how to stop. For ten years, I went on a killing spree. Then I found my friends.”

Bo, Kenzi, and Tamsin in Groundhog Fae

Significance to the LGBT Community

  • Xena’s subtext was a precursor to Bo and Lauren’s relationship.
  • Xena almost showed kisses between Xena and Gabrielle. The show got around it with body switching episodes (“The Quest”) or using the excuse of transferring water (“A Friend in Need”).
  • Xena is what syndicated TV could get away with in the 1990s. By comparison in Lost Girl, there’s Bo and Lauren’s TV-MA sex scenes.

Fandoms

  • Xena and Lost Girl resonate with a wide variety of demographics.
  • Xena and Lost Girl have a strong LGBT fanbase because of the shows’ characters and pairings that an LGBT audience can relate to.
  • Xena continues to have a strong online presence and fandom after almost 20 years. Xena’s outreach in fandom also correlated with the rise of the internet.
  • Lost Girl has a dedicated fandom to give the show legs even after it goes off the air. Fans continue to discover it due to streaming.
  • Both shows have are the type of genre shows that give rise to fan creativity — such as fanfic, fan art, fan sites, podcasts, etc. — and draw audiences to conventions and fan events.

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11 comments »

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  1. Aaron says:

    I SO second Annie’s comment about how irking it can be to hear “Buffy” getting so much credit when “Xena” did a lot and arguably paved the way for Buffy. Would Buffy have been as successful without Xena? Maybe but still, credit to Xena because as Annie said she did it first. Also credit to “Wonder Woman” because without her things really might not have happened for the others.

    I still hope Bo doesn’t get out of the Dark alignment by tearing up her contract, it would be disappointing if it was that easy for her. If it was that easy I think Vex would have said something.

    I agree with Annie in that Lauren is the one who grounds Bo; Kenzi does to a point, don’t get me wrong, but Kenzi also has a love for the fae which feeds into the “do what you want because you have the power” side. Lauren is a bit more balanced and can help Bo stay more focused; though both certainly help Bo with the focus on humanity. Something that has always been important to Bo.

    Are you planing on doing solo comparison episodes for the characters as well? I’d be interested in seeing who Annie picks for a comparison to such characters like Callisto, Aries, Joxer, if Kenzi is her pick for Gabrielle or if there’s maybe someone else who’s a better comparison, and others.

    No to fae Kenzi please. And I have to say I’m not a fan of the shadow thief stuff; Kenzi was a great thief before Dyson came along so I never got the push for him to make her better but that’s just me.

    I agree, Kenzi was a warrior you could say before Gabrielle became on; as was said, it took time for Gabrielle to accept that side of herself where as with Kenzi it’s always been there since the start of the series. Just because she doesn’t do it as much doesn’t mean it mean it wasn’t there.

    The “Grey’s Anatomy” musical; that episode would have been such a powerhouse episode I think had they ditched the singing. Some cast members did really good don’t get me wrong, but they also cut short some powerful moments because of the music. The main example that comes to mind for me is the scene between Arizona and Mark outside of Callie’s room where they’re yelling about each other’s rights; I so would have loved to hear that as a normal scene more than Shandra singing; I enjoyed hearing Shandra but not on that scene. I get it was really an episode to showcase Sara’s ability because fans wanted to hear her sing on the show, but I really wish they did it in another way or episode because that episode would have been epic I feel had it been executed normally but with Sara doing the soundtrack like we normally hear. But maybe that’s only me.

    Annie you should of had them watch the solstice episode, that had good comedy and a fun fight scene.

    Just for reference, watch every episode with Callisto – Hudson Leick rocked that. Annie correct me if you think this is untrue, but I don’t think anyone made Xena sweat like Callisto. And it wasn’t necessarily because Xena couldn’t physically beat her because she so could, but mentally Callisto rocked Xena to her core at times; she always made Xena teeter to the dark side and threatened that return in her. She’s like Lachlan and Evony and maybe a little bit of Aife all roles into one. She could give her a good fight at times and always knew the best buttons to push. I’d argue she’s the best villain on that show; certainly one of the most memorable.

    Stephanie, big hug for the “Charmed” reference; it warmed my fan girl heart. I don’t think it was the girls as a whole that died too much, but Piper now she died a lot; she honestly died once a season when you ration it out, because she does make it out of season six okay but then they kill her twice in the season before or after so it equals out. And applause to Holly Marie Combs for making each one feel unique. I miss Prue.

    When did they suggest Aries was Xena’s fatter? I hope he wasn’t because I liked them as a couple. The last episode of “Xena” I saw was the Indiana Jones spoof and then they went on break and never came back it seemed so was it post IJ or in a previous one? Also Annie thoughts on the spoof? I have mixed feelings on it, I loved Renee in it but mostly I was like “Really?” a lot of the time. Just wondering.

    “And they fought like a married couple too at times.” – agreed.

    Annie are there any US “Xena” conventions? It’s been a while since Iwatchef an episode the show, but I’d be interested in possibly checking out a convention one day. Fandom love never goes away.

    Kris we all want one.

    Strong female leads, a sense of mythology, and the family building are definitely things the two series share I believe.

    Another great show.

    • Drinks at The Dal Drinks at The Dal says:

      I don’t want to derail the comments with a bunch of stuff about Buffy, but I think it gets more credit than Xena in regards to influencing Lost Girl as well as laying the foundation for female-led television/fantasy shows because it had a huge impact on pop culture in general. (This isn’t just me saying this because I’m a Buffy fan. People have written books.) The dialogue in particular was really influential on how television dialogue was written subsequently, and some argue that it had a big impact on how people speak in everyday life. But I think Xena for sure was as important for paving the way for more female-led television shows.

      I don’t think that Bo ripping her contract broke her allegiance to the Dark. Dyson said as much right after she did it. It’s possible they won’t go back to that just because they have a story they need to finish telling on a deadline in Season 5, but I think it’s likely to come up again.

      We might do a follow-up episode and talk more about Xena and Lost Girl characters, but it’s up to Annie.

  2. darkrat says:

    Thank you for this episode! As both a Xena and Buffy fan, I’ve often seen the similarities between them and Lost Girl.

    Firstly, I do think that Buffy had more of a direct impact on pop culture than Xena. Buffy certainly had a wider fan base and seemed to garner more non-genre media attention. You mentioned it in your podcast, but I think Buffy (and Lost Girl, perhaps) is more accessible to general audiences because it’s set in contemporary society and, therefore, able to reference current events, modern culture, etc. Xena, on the other hand is steeped in mythology and set in a distant time (though certainly no one ever accused Xena of being historically accurate). And let’s face it; Xena is also much campier than Buffy and can drive non-campers away.

    That said, Joss Whedon has often cited Xena as blazing the trail for strong female characters. I believe he also said that “Bitter Suite” (the first Xena musical episode) inspired him to write the Buffy musical episode “Once More With Feeling”. (As an aside, I think it’s interesting that Xena used their musical episode to mend the rift between Xena and Gabrielle, while Buffy used their episode to underscore the growing rift between Willow and Tara, Giles and Buffy, Buffy and the rest of the gang.)

    On a personal level, Xena certainly had a greater impact on me than did Buffy (pre-Willow and Tara), because it was part of my coming out process. The first fan fiction I ever read was for Xena. It was also the first slash fic I’d ever read; confirming that I was, in fact, a lesbian. My first partner and I got together over our love of Xena and I know many lesbian and female same-sex couples who met on-line via Xena chat sites. Obviously, Buffy did what Xena never did by having an openly “gay now” relationship between Willow and Tara (Taraaaaaa!) and then later with Willow and Kennedy. Regardless, Xena definitely had a huge impact on the LGBTQA sub-culture and on internet fandoms.

    As for character comparisons, I’ve often thought that Gabrielle and Kenzi share the most in common. Both are great at talking/improvising their way out of trouble (or into it), both act as the comedy relief, both are used by villains to “get at” at the protagonists, both are self-sacrificing, both are vulnerable but quietly brave, both are optimistic, both lost their fiancé/spouse (Haaaaale!), and both are presented as the “heart” of the protagonist. I’ve also always thought that Ksenia Solo, as Kenzi, uses gestures, physical humor, and vocal techniques/impressions in a way that’s very similar to how Renee O’Connor portrayed Gabrielle.

    My favorite “big bad” on all three shows are female characters who have complex relationships with the respective protagonist: Callisto vs. Xena, Faith vs. Buffy, and Tamsin (okay, not technically a “big bad”) vs. Bo. All three relationships have that mix of love/hate, admiration/obsession, light/dark, (blonde/brunette), redemptive story arc that I find compelling.

    There are many other similarities and, I’m sure, one could write a thesis on the topic, but I’ll leave it there for now. Thanks again for the episode – maybe you could start a Buffy and/or Xena podcast (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

    • Aaron says:

      Throwing out hair color as a requirement, I’d say Aife is a better comparison with Bo to the others named. Aife and Faith definitely have a lot in common; most noticably they are the dark equivalent to Buffy and Bo. And while Xena helped make Callisto to a point, without Aife there would certainly be no Bo.

  3. @Nerdrific says:

    I also had the Xena checks, she looked pissed in all 4 scenes, which is how I felt about some of the bills I paid at that time too. Xena started when I was in high school and I remember being excited to buy a brand new VCR so that I could record the episodes. What drew me in is that Xena wasn’t this blonde virginal goddess who always did the right thing. She was evil like I’m going to cut your head off and put it on a post evil, and I found the struggle intriguing. A lot of fans had issues with Xena in S4 because the show really pushed them to see where they were as individuals. In The Way during their India arc, I love how Xena’s truth was to be an “ass kicking warrior” and that we all have to adhere to who we are as opposed to what others feel as best for us. Something that Lost Girl encourages too.

    I watched Buffy too as it came out 2 years later and at one point were on the same night (much to my utter delight) and loved the dialog between them and how they also touched on being their own family especially when Tara’s father comes back to claim her.

    I certainly have a greater appreciation for Lost Girl since we had live off of subtext on Xena. They were so tightly controlled that originally Xena’s sidekick wasn’t even supposed to be a female. In the 2nd musical episode, a scene was cut because Xena had her hand on Gabrielle’s shoulder, and it made a female bigwig uncomfortable. Lucy’s reaction was to say that the episode itself was about homosexuality and called the lady an idiot.

    Don’t forget Whoosh! They were a go to Xena page too back in the day. While I watched both shows, I did have a greater love for Xena because it didn’t take itself too seriously. It was also the first fanfic that I ever read, which was great considering we knew it would never happen on the show.

    I like to joke that Xena was my first love, but Lost Girl I want to like marry and have kids…or adopt a cat. Haha..thanks for doing this episode!

  4. I feel like Xena was more popular than Buffy when Xena was in it’s prime, the last two seasons of Xena were ranked high up there in tvland. I did enjoy this episode a lot! I also enjoyed the shout out to Charmed. Ahh the 90s so many lady shows.

    • Drinks at The Dal Drinks at The Dal says:

      See, and I had the impression that Buffy was more popular than Xena. I knew no one who watched Xena, but a bunch of people who watched Buffy. I also read a whole lot more about Buffy in magazines and online and such, but since I was a fan of the show and didn’t watch Xena I know that my impression is likely very skewed.

  5. P. Martin says:

    Yes, there are many elements in Xena and Lost Girl that align for me. I watched Lost Girls after viewing all of the Xena episodes and found that Lost Girl had many similarities to Xena. The Xena series spawned a series of strong female leads in future TV land. Xena was “out of the box” and very progressive for its time and therefore, paved the way for other women to take on lead roles that exuded femininity, independence, strength, and intelligence. Xena was ground-breaking and Lost Girls was a satisfying follow-up.

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