How A Studio’s Fear Of Lesbians Dictated Xena’s Opening Credits

Hey, did you ever think it was weird that Xena and Gabrielle barely shared any screen time in the opening credits sequence of Xena: Warrior Princess? Well, it turns out that was a studio note. A ridiculous studio note.

Entertainment Weekly has a story about all the reasons that Xena and Gabrielle never got together during the show. They range from story-based (co-creator and executive producer Rob Tapert says they liked the energy between Ares and Xena, and didn’t want to lose it) to the general statement that they did as much as they could given the restraints of network television at the time.

But the detail that stands out the most concerns the opening credits sequence, which gave Universal Television (the studio which produced Xena) some… let’s say concerns. Here’s what Tapert told EW:

Before we started shooting Xena, we shot the material that we were going to use to create the opening title sequences with. The studio was so concerned that it would be perceived as a lesbian show that they would not allow us to have Xena and Gabrielle in the same frame of the opening titles.

Yeah. Given that level of paranoia and straight-up homophobia, we’re kind of shocked they managed to get as much past the network as they did.

In case you were wondering, Xena and Gabrielle share the frame in one part of the opening titles, but they’re facing different directions. So I guess that counts as subversive, given Universal’s completely ridiculous rule?