Updated: Mar 10
Post by: Jessica
"In every generation, there is a chosen one... she alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the slayer."
"In a time of ancient gods, warlords and kings, a land in turmoil cried out for a hero. She was Xena, a mighty princess forged in the heat of battle. The power...the passion...the danger. Her courage will change the world."
In the 90s, these opening monologues introduced to the world to two of the most empowering and inspirational fictional women seen on tv, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena the Warrior Princess. Xena was an Emmy Award-winning television series which aired from September 4th, 1995 to June 18th, 2001. Whereas Buffy, also an Emmy Award-nominated television series, aired from March 10th, 1997 to May 20th, 2003. Both series obtained a popular following and were critically acclaimed for addressing themes such as homosexuality, love, death, redemption, and so much more. To a young girl transitioning into womanhood around this time, they were both very influential and inspirational role models.
I will always and forever be a fan of Xena the Warrior Princess. I fondly remember when the series first aired, plopping myself in front of the TV after Girl Guides, I couldn’t wait to watch this incredibly sexy and powerful, leather-clad, dark-haired woman fight Warlords, Gods, and Monsters with the help of her friends. I fell in love with the series and I wanted to be Xena! Over the years as I grew from a teenager to a young woman, I would watch this show over and over again. I loved Xena’s journey of redemption. She was strong and intelligent but also maintained her femininity. She was surrounded by her chosen family and found strength in them during her darkest times and greatest challenges. I laughed and cried as every season passed. Watching Xena was my safety blanket during some of the darkest times in my own life. I still turn to the Warrior Princess when I need a pick me up.
When it comes to Buffy, I will admit, I did not jump on the Buffy train until much later in life. Honestly, it was around when I turned 30 and finally gave into Kelly’s (Spinster #2) badgering to watch the series as she knew I would enjoy it. I am so glad I did because in watching Buffy I experienced the same feeling I did when I first watched Xena. I was mesmerized by this strong, independent, feminine and funny teenager named Buffy. It gave me the same feeling of inspiration and comfort when I was feeling stressed out or down. Just like watching Xena, I also find myself turning to Buffy during times of insecurity, fear, self-doubt, and despair. I know that these were only television series, but being able to watch a female role model gives me hope and gratification.
Both Buffy and Xena are examples of a heroine's journey of transcendence and individual greatness done for the good of others. We see that Buffy’s journey is that of a young maiden becoming a woman struggling to balance her life as the Slayer and living in the modern world. Whereas Xena is an older heroine whose path is about redemption from her wicked ways and struggling to be a hero in a changing world. Both women become defenders of life and all those who would destroy it by defending the helpless, women, children, and those whom they love. They have superhuman abilities and surround themselves with a group of friends and mentors who help them along the way. They show us the struggles and the expectations of being female, both in a modern and an ancient world. They confront prejudice towards their strength as warriors, their decisions are constantly questioned by patriarchal societies and because they break the social constructs placed upon women to be subservient wives and mothers. As well, as the series progresses, we are shown how these women develop various relationships with other females, both enemies and friends alike. Buffy and Xena experience death and rebirth and this fundamentally change them as characters to further their development. Both characters are examples of the power of feminine strength women carry deep within themselves that make them the fiercest warriors when called upon to implement change for the betterment of the world.
Buffy and Xena have had a significant cultural impact in the world of Fantasy and Horror genres. Both characters have many beloved fans and people who find inspiration in these characters journey’s and how they have brought themselves back from the edge whenever it felt hopeless. But we just can’t think about the characters themselves but of the actresses who brought them to life, Lucy Lawless and Sarah Michelle Gellar. There is no Xena without Lucy and there is no Buffy without Sarah. Both these women invested themselves in these characters and it was their dedication to portraying these powerful warriors that have women of all ages gravitating to them. I would never say one is better than the other as both Buffy and Xena fulfill what they can in us depending on what we are looking for. Thanks to these female role models of the 90s, we have a generation of empowered women speaking out, breaking social norms, and bringing out the inner Slayer or Warrior Princess in them to change the world.