It’s that time of year again, folks, and we’re back for the traditional Galentine’s Double Feature! If you happened to miss last year’s installment, I stand by it. But, for a fresh take in the fresh hell of Our Dark Lord 2k17, I have a couple of suggestions.
If you’re wondering why we’ve included television in this double feature, I’ll just say: we’ve done it in the past, and that there is power and importance in serialized narrative in our society — this is the Golden Age of Television, and TV shows are a recognized and legitimate cultural phenomena.
And sometimes it’s useful to go back and appreciate those shows that did so much work in the late 1990’s contributing to the growth of television’s relevance, like Xena: Warrior Princess. These shows remind us of how far we’ve come and, perhaps more importantly in these trying times, of how far we have yet to go.
Plus, I mean, it’s a great way to keep the everything within the temporal parameters of brunch; also it’s just good TV. (However, if you should want a more traditional Double Feature, I might recommend this).
It is best to begin with Legally Blonde. We’ve all seen this movie, so you can throw it on in the background while the waffle iron heats up (NOTE: for those of you who have not seen this movie, prepare your Galentine’s brunch item — deviled eggs, a nice fruit salad, maybe — ahead of time and sit right down for this, the most important movie of the new millennium).
Legally Blonde is a masterpiece. It’s about harnessing your spite to achieve your dreams. Basically, beautiful and perfect Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) gets dumped in public by her shitty boyfriend because she’s too kind and fun, and because he’s going to law school (no fun allowed).
So she goes to law school — because she’s resourceful and smart and really just the most capable human being on the planet — to try to win him back. Obviously, she comes to realize that he’s shitty and she doesn’t need him, and instead she invests her energy into forming loving and supportive relationships with women (her manicurist, her kickass take-no-shit professor, her “rival” — Selma Blair), and also into being the goddamn best at law school.
^^Elle Woods, Inspiration to Us All (also it was 2001! Get A Load of that Outfit!) ^^
Legally Blonde has served to inspire a generation of women to greatness — it teaches us that there is strength and power to be found in everyone else’s low expectations, that the performance of traditional femininity can be harnessed for good (and that deviation from that performance does not make a woman bad or unreachable, as in the case of Selma Blair, or the Peace Corps stereotype with the braids); but ultimately this movie teaches us that women must unite; we must lift each other up if we are ever to succeed.
This, the greatest cinematic achievement of a generation, has one of the single best transformation montages in the history of cinema; it has a killer soundtrack; it actually devotes time and energy to navigating the treacherous mores of internalized misogyny to lead us all into a land of sisterhood and heartwarming goodwill; it is an inspiring tale of women being fantastic and applying themselves against patriarchal expectations. And also dogs!
And speaking of railing against patriarchal expectations…
Xena: Warrior Princess, “Lifeblood”
So, this episode of Xena: Warrior Princess (Season 5, Episode 16 “Lifeblood”; March 13, 2000) — it exists, and it’s incredible.
Xena — THE HERO FOR WHOM A LAND IN TURMOIL CRIED OUT
Gabrielle — Xena’s girlfriend; an Amazon Princess
Eve — Xena’s infant daughter
To catch you up: Gabrielle is taking Xena and Eve back to her Amazon tribe. There, she will initiate Eve into the Amazon culture as her own daughter and thus provide Eve with a community in which to grow up (/just literally adopt Xena’s daughter because they’re married).
Here’s all you really need to know: the Amazons have been fighting a KISS cover band from the north; they’ve lost some of their strongest sisters and they are blinded by bloodlust. Xena must learn about the Amazons’ past struggles to find a balance between might and mercy in order to sway them onto the right path going forward.
Flashback to when the Amazon tribe was founded: their strongest warrior convinced some dude to magic up a savior — enter: ‘90’s “modern day” Weird Horse Girl™ Selma Blair.
Selma Blair was accepted as their new leader and, with the help of a young Karl Urban and a Perfectly Reasonable amount of violence, she brokered a peace with a neighboring tribe of gross dudes, all while learning the importance of the Amazon’s principal tenets: sisterhood/loving and supporting women.
^^This woman, in particular (A much better choice than young Karl Urban)^^
This episode of Xena, when placed together with Legally Blonde, is all about understanding how this same kind of Amazonian sisterhood Can Actually be harnessed and achieved in a modern (late-’90’s) context.
We these stories right now because of, y’know, this very real hell that America has become. Basic human rights are being stolen from so many of us. Never has it been more important, in these first few weeks of what would appear to be a very long four years, to remind ourselves of the love we feel for each other, as well as our own abilities to persevere under adverse conditions.
So, take inspiration from Elle Woods, from Xena and Gabrielle — living well is the best revenge, but also let’s not discount the satisfaction that comes from forcibly reminding your oppressors that you are a valuable human being deserving of respect.