Viewer reception of classical myth in Xena: warrior princess and Charmed

Potter, Amanda Jayne (2014). Viewer reception of classical myth in Xena: warrior princess and Charmed. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000fad3

Abstract

This thesis engages with the representation of Greek myths and mythical characters in the television series Xena: Warrior Princess (1995- 2001) and Charmed (1998-2006), by adapting a viewer-centric methodology used in television studies. I include episodes of the series featuring the story of Pandora, the Furies, Amazons and Greek goddesses. Although the main focus of my research was on viewer reception of the television episodes, I also include an analysis of the ancient sources that may have been used by the television writers and producers, providing textual evidence where there is clear influence.

Throughout my thesis I analyse data obtained from viewers about their understanding of the myths and their reactions to the episodes. These viewers were recruited into three groups; fans of the series, classicists who had completed as a minimum a first degree in a classics related subject, and 'general viewers' , a group of viewers who were neither fans nor classicists. Data was obtained via recorded focus group discussions and written or email 'interview questionnaires', completed between 2006 and 2011.

As part of their viewing experience the classicists and many of the fans were able to draw on information that they had gained about the myths from sources outside the television episodes. The general viewers had a limited understanding of the myths before watching the episodes. I argue that these groups of viewers tended to react in different ways to the episodes, and to sources of Greek myths in general. However, viewers across all groups were able to understand and enjoy the episodes. Series' creators can therefore appeal to a wide audience, by incorporating and often subverting mythic content to tell a modern story, which can be understood by all.

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  • Item ORO ID
  • 64211
  • Item Type
  • PhD Thesis
  • Extra Information
  • Earlier, shortened versions of Chapters One and Two have previously been published as:

    Potter, Amanda (2009) 'Hell Hath No Fury Like a Dissatisfied Viewer: Audience Responses to the Presentation of the Furies in Xena: Warrior Princess and Charmed', in Classics for All: Reworking Antiquity in Mass Culture eds. Dunstan Lowe and Kim Shahabudin, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 215-236.

    Potter, Amanda (2010) 'Unpacking Pandora's Box: The Redemption of an Ancient Antiheroine for a Twenty-First Century Audience in US TV Series Xena: Warrior Princess and Charmed' in Classical and Contemporary Mythic Identities: Construction of the Literary Imagination, eds. Amina Ayal and Paul Hardwick, Lampeter: Edwin Mellen, pp. 97-122.
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
    Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Arts and Humanities > Classical Studies
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2013 Amanda Jayne Potter
  • Depositing User
  • ORO Import

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