Sad news, friends. NBC’s Xena: Warrior Princess reboot is dead in the water. With 90s nostalgia on full blast and the support of the original creative team, the network commissioned the reboot in 2015 and later that year, recruited Lost and The 100 writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach to tackle the project. Sadly, the Emmy-winning writer departed the project in a few months ago over “insurmountable creative differences” and now it seems the project has stalled entirely at NBC.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke revealed that the project is, at least for the time being, dead. “Nothing is happening on that right now. We looked at some material; we decided at that point that it didn’t warrant the reboot,” Salke said. “I’d never say never on that one because it’s such a beloved title, but the current incarnation of it is dead.”
When asked if the network would pursue alternate ideas for the reboot in the future, Salke continued, “I need someone to come in with a point of view about what they want to do.” It’s an interesting comment considering that whatever problems they made have had with Grillo-Marxauch’s material, it’s never said like he’s lacked a point of view on the material. Quite the contrary, the writer was very vocal about his plans for the series.
Following the controversy over how Lexa’s arc was handled on The 100, Grillo-Marxauch responded to the “Bury Your Gays” backlash and fan concerns about his Xena concept by taking to his personal blog. “I am a very different person with a very different world view than my employer on The 100 – and my work on The 100 was to use my skills to bring that vision to life,” he wrote, “Xena will be a very different show made for very different reasons. There is no reason to bring back Xena if it is not there for the purpose of fully exploring a relationship that could only be shown subtextually in first-run syndication in the 1990s. [It] will also express my view of the world – which is only further informed by what is happening right now – and is not too difficult to know what that is if you do some digging.” So yeah, that sounds like a writer with a point of view.
While reports suggest the focus on a queer relationship may have been a driving factor in the split, Grillo-Marxauch denied that speculation on social media. “[It] wasn’t about the relationship — and [NBC} studio and network were very supportive of my vision,” he wrote on Twitter.
Hopefully, that’s true. And if they do revive the series, hopefully they’ll let Xena and Gabrielle be as gay, gay, gay as they always were. Which is super gay. Everybody knows it, you know it, Lucy Lawless knows it. In a 2003 interview, Lawless described Xena as “definitely gay” and “married” to Gabrielle. Funny story about that. Last year, when I spoke to her for Ash vs. Evil Dead (the audio was tragically unusable), I couldn’t help but nerd out a little bit and tell her how much Xena meant to me as a kid. “My cousin and I spent so much of our summers running around the backyard, yipping and sword fighting, pretending to be Gabrielle and Xena,” I told her. “Did you kiss?” she immediately quipped back. Lucy Lawless is the best.
Indeed, her shoes would be mighty hard to fill in the role of the titular Warrior Princess, but I hope they figure this one out. There’s always room for one more queer af badass lady kicking butts across network TV, as far as I’m concerned. Xena co-creator Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi were on board to oversee the project through their Ghost House Pictures banner, which also makes me hope this thing comes together sooner than later. If you’re going to do Xena, Tapert and Raimi are the guys to help you make sure you do it right.