Long time, no see, friends and readers! Gosh, it’s been a hot minute since last I popped on here. I understand now why bloggers tend to fall off the face of the Internet when they get married. Between my work as a virtual assistant, keeping my home, and spending time with my husband, I am a very busy woman!
And yet I wouldn’t trade it for anything…even on the days where I have to reshuffle my schedule because I simply can’t do it all. I am married to the best and sweetest of men, the kind of guy who constantly assures me I “don’t have to earn my whimsy” and makes sure I still take a little time each day for myself.
If you’d like to keep up with me and all my housewifely doings, my Instagram account is the best way to follow along. As for writing, I’m just now getting back to it, setting Wednesday afternoons aside for brainstorming an old-new story idea.
Today, however, I took my Wednesday time to finally update my blog…and offer some rambling thoughts about my new favorite show!
OUTLANDER. For a long time I avoided it like the plague. I was gifted the first book many years ago and blushed to the roots of my hair as soon as I opened it. Let’s just say that the, ahem, very steamy content left me scarred. This is, after all, a multi-book/season romance about two married characters, and they do Very Married Things on a Very Regular Basis.
Fast forward about ten years, and I still don’t want to read or watch other married people doing Very Married Things. But thanks to my sister Emily’s fierce insistence that I’d actually love Outlander, I gave this show a second chance…and I can testify that there is so, so much more to this show than married people doing Very Married Things.
Please note that I do still offer some strong disclaimers and caveats at the end of this post. I do NOT recommend this show for everyone, and certainly not to younger viewers. If you’d like to scroll to the end to read my disclaimers first (located after the final image), please do so now!
This is the story of Claire, a fierce, intelligent, and kind-hearted woman from the 1940’s who gets sent back in time to Scotland in the 1740’s. A nurse during World War II, Claire was married back home in her own time, but as her adventures (and mishaps) in Jacobite Scotland continue, she ends up in a sticky situation where she will be in the clutches of one of the worst villains I have EVER encountered in ALL my years of reading and watching stories…if she doesn’t marry a young Scottish nobleman, Jamie Fraser.
So marry Jamie Fraser she does, backed into a corner with terrible captivity as her only alternative. But against her intentions, Claire ends up falling deeply in love with him, and he with her. As their story unfolds, they face all kinds of trials, adventures, heartbreaks, and joys together with their growing family: an adopted son and his wife, a biological daughter and her husband, and grandchildren. And their marriage is refined and strengthened through it all.
Outlander is also the story of Scotland’s plight during and after the Jacobite Rebellion, and the settlement of the Scots in Colonial America. It is deeply rooted in history. I’ve learned so much about the Jacobite Rebellion (something I never knew much about) and the complicated political tensions behind it. I’m in the middle of Season 4 right now, and I am loving this new Colonial America period! I feel like I’m in a world where the Felicity Merriman books, the HBO John Adams miniseries, and Ken Burns’ Lewis and Clark documentary all collide.
Longtime readers of this blog, however, know that I will always love characters best of all. If I don’t like the characters, it won’t matter to me how mind-blowing the plot might be: if I can’t root for the hero and/or heroine, I am utterly indifferent. But Outlander is a story where I can honestly say that I truly love the hero and heroine.
Let’s start with Claire first, because I’ve got a rant incoming about Jamie Fraser (or rather, about how certain people talk about characters like him).
When I first started Outlander, I thought Claire was a Mary Sue…and to a certain extent, I still think she started out as one. She is, after all, every historical-fiction-loving-girl’s dream come true: she starts out in World War II (the favorite period of many a story-lover), ends up in Scotland (SCOTLAND!), and marries a man who is basically a Scottish Steve Rogers and a human Golden Retriever. She is also quite modern, balking (or sniffing) at many 18th-century customs and convictions.
But ohhhh, how she develops…and how well and gracefully she settles into this new, strange life. Grief and joy both refine her. Like my sister Emily says, “People are plants; you have to let them grow.” As I said, I’m in Season 4 right now, and Claire is living the kind of life I have always admired so deeply: she is an expert homemaker and a “healer”–using her 20th-century medical skills as best as she can to serve her community.
She’s also one of the best fictional wives I’ve ever seen. In one scene, she tells Jamie of the American Revolution soon to come, and warns him not to cozy up to the colonial Governor too much. Jamie, however, is utterly in love with the idea of owning his own land and tending America well for the sake of their daughter, who lives in 1960’s America (it’s wobbly-wobbly-timey-wimey–you just gotta roll with it).
In the end, Claire cannot convince Jamie to avoid making a deal for land with the Governor. He knows she’s worried, but he looks her straight in the eye and asks her, “Do you trust me, Claire?”
And Claire, without skipping a beat, answers, “With my life.”
The first thought that came to me during that scene was, “He’s such a good husband,” on account of the way he respected her concern even if he didn’t understand them. But THEN I thought, “Ahh…but she is an excellent wife.” She could’ve fought him tooth and nail on that one, but she didn’t. I do have a feeling she’ll eventually say, “I told you so,” once the Revolution gets underway. But at this point in the story, she is willing to–dare I say it?–submit to his leadership as her husband. It isn’t because he’s deserving of blind submission, but because he has earned her trust and she knows she can follow him.
Okay, now let’s talk about Jamie himself. As I’ve often texted Emily, “He is a very good boi. Sometimes a dumb boi, but a very good boi.” He is kind, generous, humorous, devoted to his country, and completely in love with his wife.
But he is NOT pure as the wind-driven snow. The writers could have easily made him perfect, but they didn’t. Jamie is hot-headed; he starts out with some pretty misogynistic views; he (and Claire) sometimes act out of fear and “the ends justify the means” pragmatism, especially in Season 2; he nearly succumbs to despair in Season 3; he almost murders his future son-in-law, mistaking him for a criminal and wanting to take the law into his own hands.
And yet Jamie is still the sort of character some will decry as an “unrealistic standard.” My friend Caroline and I had quite a spirited conversation about this a few weeks ago. It went right along with our recent evaluations of some of the toxic teachings we grew up with–specifically the ones about what we women should expect in a man. The men who taught those things were basically telling us to have outrageously low expectations of our future husbands. But maybe, just maybe, those men were warning women away from noble fictional characters because they didn’t want to be held to a higher standard? I mean, I have to ask…especially since some of these teachers ended up disgraced after accusations of abuse.
So in the midst of all those conversations, Caroline said to me, “I don’t get it. Jamie reminds me so much of my husband! Why is he ‘unrealistic?!'” To which I cracked up laughing and replied, “Jamie reminds me of MY husband! Are we married to unrealistic men?!”
Ladies, get you a man who’ll treat you like Jamie Fraser treats his wife: someone who’ll listen to your opinions with respect and interest, treat you with physical gentleness (even when no one else is watching), hold you when you weep, and extend kindness to others. He won’t be perfect, but it is not unrealistic to desire those good qualities in a man. And you should definitely hold a man to that standard.
This is getting long, I know–but have grace with me–I haven’t blogged in months!
I cannot and will not wrap up this mostly-positive post without offering some pretty heavy disclaimers and caveats. There are DEFINITELY things I skip in Outlander. There are all the Very Married Things, of course, but there’s also some sexual violence and physical violence (battles, deaths, surgeries, etc.). I’m not squeamish about the physical violence, but I skip the sexual violence and the Very Married Things without hesitation. Thankfully, I’ve always found I get plenty of fair warning within the story itself–and Wikipedia has an excellent article providing synopses of every episode. Thanks to that article, I have never been taken by surprise.
This is not a show for children, and it will not be a show for everyone. Some viewers may have a hard time with the heavy storylines (Roger’s captivity by the Mohawk Indians, Jamie’s recovery from torture, the 20 years where Claire and Jamie are separated and living in their own time periods, etc.). Some in particular seasons of life may find the romance too intense, even if they do skip the Very Married Things.
But at the end of the day, I personally enjoy it so much. Unlike Game of Thrones, to which it is often unfairly compared (in my opinion), Outlander is a redemptive tale. It “sings us a song” of a faithful marriage and a courageous family that rallies around each other through Highland rebellions, perilous voyages, the American wilderness, and time travel.
Sign me up for the new season this summer!
One thought on “The One Where I Talk About “Outlander””
I will say I have always been fascinated by Time Travel and this was the first book that set me on reading Time Travel novels. Will get this out of the way, yes the book and the TV series can be graphic and are not for everyone.
I want to focus on the other aspects. I always thought it would be harder for a woman to go back in time because she would be put in times where Men had so much control over all aspects of society. I thought they would be regulated to secondary status, but Claire shows that a strong capable and honest woman can prosper in any era. Of course the fact that she happened to meet and fall in love with such a man as Jamie helps. Her eventually going back to her own time to the man she loved left her with a very tough choice which was a perfect set up to the books to follow.
She didn’t leave behind the modern technology that we have today. To me that would have been an even greater shock. Still love the stories. Have not seen all the series as we no longer subscribe to movie channel like HBO, Showtime, and I think this was on Starz.
Recently I came across a book called “Lost in Time” By A. G. Riddle which tells the story of a modern day man being sent back unawares to medieval times with possession of modern Technology. I won’t spoil it by telling you what he took back. In a reverse of Claire and Jamie he meets a strong woman who takes him along in the fights and battles of her time. Well written. No explicit writing. The first in a continual series. Worth the read.