I began watching Xena in the middle of the third season, January 1998. I loved the friendship and the subtext. I read the fan fiction, watched and made fan music videos, even made my own Xena and Gabrielle website. I went to most of the east coast conventions all the way up to 2007 when I finally made it to the yearly Xena con in Los Angeles. I was completely immersed in the fandom for a lot of years. To this day I still keep track of what the stars, Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor are up to.
|"I Kissed a Girl"|
Xena was a fantasy show. There was so much they could and did do that would satisfy or entice subtext fans. Where else could they have their two female leads kiss five times in six seasons and still have people call them straight? They also did little teases that subtext fans ate up like Xena's "hickey" Joxer spots in "Been There, Done That" followed by the look Gabrielle gives as if her and Xena had just been caught.
Rizzoli and Isles is essentially a crime drama, buddy show. It's patterned more after the 80's Cagney and Lacey or the 70's Starsky and Hutch, then the fantasy, Greek gods roaming world of Xena. The subtext in Rizzoli and Isles stems from the chemistry between the lead actors, Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander. The characters themselves are based on the novels of writer Tess Gerritson. In the books Jane gets married and has a child, and Maura has an ex-husband and is having a secret affair with a priest. There is no doubt they are straight.
When the show began there was never any doubt in the creators' minds that these women were straight. That doesn't stop fandom from seeing what isn't intentionally there. Jane and Maura became close friends who are always there for each other and support each other. They laugh together, tease each other, and enjoy spending time together. Maura has become a part of the Rizzoli family with Mama Rizzoli even renting Maura's guest house. As a lesbian, when I see these things I see my relationships with both friends and lovers. They're women, and women's relationships with each other are very similar whether it be close friends or lovers. The main difference naturally being whether there is a sexual relationship or not.
|Season 2 "Sailor Man"|
These shows are two different animals, yet they do have some similarities. Both have strong female characters who become really close friends. Both have leads who date men that don't stick around for long. Heck, Gabrielle's usually died! Both have actors with strong on screen chemistry that allows a subtext fan to see more than just what's being said or done. What was special about Xena and Gabrielle though was we could see that they were soulmates. The romantic, there could never be anyone else, you complete me soulmate. The kiss in season six when Gabrielle had been in a year long sleep surrounded by a
|Xena's kiss awakens Gabrielle's year long slumber|
Had Jane and Maura been out and out gay from the start it would have been a different show, maybe more like some of the fan fiction. That could have been very cool. First season they get to know each other, become friends, maybe finally kiss towards the end of the season, and second season is they're relationship and the struggles of working together. I would have enjoyed that. But that's not what the show Rizzoli and Isles on TNT is. They can't change course mid stream and they've never indicated they would ever want to.
The good news for rizzles fans is that the chemistry between Sasha and Angie probably won't dwindle, the eye sex should continue and add to that the fact that the characters will never get married on the show (according to producer Janet Tamaro) so we'll still have our subtext. We can see whatever we wish to see.
There's a part of me, however, that will always miss Xena and Gabrielle. I think they were something special that could never, and should never be replaced.
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