Watching Outlander….my way.


imageSo….the smallest blog post I’ve ever written about the Outlander book and tv series has resulted in a lot of discussion and …some shite.  I feel kinda bad about that, but evidently there were a lot of people in the fandom who were feeling the same as me…they were just afraid to say so.

And rightfully so. There seems to be a double standard.  It is okay to discuss the books, pull them a part and speculate, but not the show. Anyone who didn’t actually like something about an episode is risking being villified if they dare express their dissatisfaction.

At the risk of sounding hypocritical, I need to clarify. I have little patience for those folks who are still stuck on Jamie’s hair color, Claire’s height, etc…I will not tolerate personal attacks on the cast, producers, writers, etc..  What I’m talking about is conversations that people would naturally have over a beloved book turned into a movie/tvshow: character depiction, plot development, dialogue.  I believe these are reasonable and expected topics for discussion.

Once again putting myself at risk, I believe that anyone in disagreement or dissatisfied with a part of the series is being labeled as disloyal or …Gasp…ungrateful. I’m extremely grateful! I love the show, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to like everything. And it also doesn’t mean I’m going to keep quiet or not watch as some folks have suggested.  One of the things I find most ironic and kinda of funny about this whole thing is what usually happens when I dare to speak “blasphemy”. What usually happens is that I get a lot of respectful responses that challenge my thinking and as a result, I often gain some new perspective! I can assure you that doesn’t happen when people tell me to quit being negative. And, if you have read my blog before you know I’ve written way more blogs praising the show than criticizing it!

So….this leads me to my inspiration for writing today.  I’ve noticed a peculiar pattern in people’s responses.  People keep pointing out that the books and the show are entirely separate. In fact, they say they are separate entities!  They then go on to prove their point about character or plot development by “QUOTING THE BOOK”.  You can’t have it both ways people! If it is, in fact, a show based on a book then it is natural to make comparisons.  I believe the unrealistic expectation here is the belief that the show IS the book or ….should be.

We have been lead to believe that the producers and writers  are fans of the book and that they want to do the book honor. They have assured us that despite making changes to our beloved story for the needs of visual media, they fully intend to tell the story of our Claire and her Jamie. They will have to sometimes change timelines, plot elements, scenes and dialogue, but have promised to bring everything back around to get the story where it needs to go. Admittedly some of us are a little worried about that.  Diana has tried to allay some of our fears by reminding us these are very talented people at the helm. She admonished us to not “catastroph-ize”  the future of the show based on what we’ve seen. She doesn’t see any basis/proof for not believing the story will be told in a way that will satisfy. With all due respect to Herself…I might feel more confident if I’d had access to the scripts and film!  But, she said it, so I’ll believe it and bide my time.  Which I think she finds pretty amusing.  She noted we’re complaining, but we can’t wait for April 4th <g> !  I remember Ron telling a similar little story about his fans writing to tell him that they hated an episode and hated it every time they watched it….again.  Funny lot us fans.

I’ve admitted several times that it is difficult for me to just let go and watch the film for its own self…an adaptation.  Herself said if you can’t you’ll ruin the experience for yourself.  She is probably right because I find myself jealous of newbies and people who have never read the books.  While strolling through Compuserve today (I said strolling not trolling) , I happened upon a similar conversation between the “I love everythings” and the “gotta few worries”.   One particular response caught my eye.  The writer had come to the conclusion that she was never going to be happy with the show.  She just couldn’t be because she had too many expectations that were never going to be met.  So…she let it go. She no longer scans the internet for news or counts the days till the next episode. In fact, I’m pretty sure she said she stopped watching.  She made a point to say she would probably finish watching out of curiosity, but probably wait until the season was over so she could watch it all at once. Because…it wasn’t her book it was just another tv show.  For her they ARE two separate entities. For the rest of us, I would guess we are somewhere in between. We are watching because of the book and our chance to see our favorite characters and story come to life.

Maybe the show isn’t turning out exactly as I hoped sometimes because Diana isn’t telling the story.  Ron, the experienced visual story teller, is telling the story.  My Claire and Jamie and Black Jack and Frank are walking around in the flesh!  We’ve waited forever for this!  So, if you all don’t mind, I’ll keep watching and maybe I’ll express some disappointment from time to time.  And, if Ron and crew pull this off, I’ll write the biggest apology note I can muster for ever doubting their genius!   Will it all work out? “It would be pretty to think so”.


39 thoughts on “Watching Outlander….my way.

  1. I am a survivor (barely) of the Southern Vampire Mystery series (Sookie Stackhouse) adaptation in the form of True Blood. The first season was a pretty faithful adaptation of the first book. The second and third seasons stayed recognizably close to the broad arc of the second and third books. By season four, Alan Ball, et al had thrown the books away and started writing their own god-awful nonsense. I honestly felt sorry for the actors having to spout some of those lines. I felt even sorrier for Charlaine Harris and the legion of book readers who were hoping for a more faithful adaptation.

    I am also a survivor of the bookies vs. truebies, Team Bill vs. Team Eric feud and all the squabbling surrounding the respective views of each group. I see the same thing shaping up around Outlander and that makes me sad. The viciousness of some of these folks went a long way toward me backing away from many of the book and show related discussion boards and reduced what little pleasure I found in them.

    I love discussing the Outlander books. I love discussing the TV show. Differences of opinion are bound to occur. That said, the lack of spoken intonation lending intent to the words and the anonymity of the internet have allowed for the rise of a particularly unsettling viciousness. We don’t seem to be able to disagree agreeably any longer.

    I’ve followed you for a while now and while I don’t always agree with you, you’ve said nothing that has ‘offended’ me. I have liked the majority of the TV adaptation even though I had initial concerns about Caitriona Balfe as Clare. Those reservations have long since been put to rest as I have come to see her with Clare’s strength, sense of purpose and, yes, her occasional ill-thought decision making. I hope you continue to watch and to write and if I disagree strongly enough to respond to your blog posts then I hope you see it as just another voice in the conversation.

    Take care.

    • Wow! What a great response! I wrote post a long time ago when I noticed the fan base changing. I was afraid then and that was months ago! Thank you for reading and joining part of the discussion ! You take care too!

  2. amorley552014

    You are correct, you cannot separate the 2 totally as one was born of the other. But it is a child not the parent, so it is not the same. For instance, the show is shorter. Plus it is being raised by different parents. You can fill in the rest.

  3. jomarie54

    I agree that people should be able to state their opinion, but I haven’t seen any absence of people decrying what they perceive to be the lack of Jamie & Claire or of just Jamie. In fact on one particular blog, I felt I was in the minority for feeling that I had faith in the show to do justice to their relationship.

    I really do think that the crux of the matter IS the expectations. They want what they’ve IMAGINED to somehow make it onto film. And by that I mean, that certain scenes, dialogue etc. be exactly what they’ve dreamed of seeing. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said either “Oh it’s exactly what I saw in my head!” or “That’s not the Jamie I see in my head!” (for example). Both of these kind of bug me. Because what one person sees in their head can be quite different from what another sees. How are you going to please everyone in that way?

    This is the way I see it; this is a VERSION of the story. Just picture another film maker with another set of actors in the roles; it would probably be quite different from this one. The fact is that they have to make a good TV show, and there is a lot that has to be sacrificed. You’re talking about pages and pages of material here, that have to be translated into the brush strokes of the visual medium and somehow impart, time, place, history, relationships etc. I believe Jamie and Claire’s journey needs the backdrop of these other elements to make it meaningful. That takes time to tell visually, and despite the 16 hours, their time is limited.

    Can they do things differently at times than in the book, and still tell the story? I believe they can. I didn’t have an issue with the added Frank scenes and the climax at the stones, because it was just that; a climax, a culmination of the Frank-Claire arc that coincided with the mid season finale. I thought that was genius and riveting TV. It’s quite obvious that the focus will be on Jamie-Claire from now on. I think if you had delved too much into the J&C intimacy before this point, her trying to get back to the stones wouldn’t have made much sense. This plays out differently on film than in the book.

    I know this post is long, sorry, but I’ll share something else. Years ago, I watched the first Harry Potter movie with my kids. I liked it, and I then read the books. To this day, I don’t see Daniel Radcliffe as Harry when I read, I see my own version, and I have no problem with that. That was another long book that much had to be left out of, yet they did a pretty good job of telling the story. I can enjoy each in it’s own way.

    I understand that not everyone will like the show; you can’t help how you feel. But I do have a problem if someone is personally affronted if the film makers leave something out that they wanted to see. I truly believe they care and are doing the story justice. The show can never replace the book, and you’re right, it can never BE the book. I think everyone is better off if they think of it as a “companion series” as Caitriona once said. They book and show share a connection, and they may not be separate entities, but they are different ones.

    • Your post is exactly what I’m talking about when I say I gain perspective from the responses. I didn’t realize there were so many folks feeling the opposite of you! The feedback I was getting from other folk was that they were being berated and unfollowed etc. You’re response also makes want to take another look at what I’ve written. If it left you with the impression that I don’t like the show then I need to fix it! I do like the show I just don’t like everything! With news today of VoiceOvers coming from Jamie and DG saying some of our fav JC moments just moved I’m more hopeful! I absolutely mourned what I thought was a lack of character development for Jamie. But it appears the thinking may be just what you indicate the end of the Frank story arc. Thank you for taking the time to write and for reading my blog.

      • jomarie54

        When I was talking about some people not liking the show, I was talking in generalities; I didn’t mean you specifically. I should have worded it differently. I think it will be fine really. If we all lighten our hold on our expectations, we will probably pleasantly surprised.

        To add one more thing as a further example of what I was talking about: I absolutely love Sam’s portrayal of Jamie, yet my book Jamie is somewhat different. To talk about comparisons; in this last episode, Jamie tells her firmly to be there when he gets back, but in the book he tells her he’ll tan her bare arse with his sword belt if she wasn’t there when he gets back. (If I look at the book, usually out of curiosity, it’s after an episode, not before.) The demeanor was a bit different. Yet I felt I would have been disturbed if he had said it that way in the show. My book Jamie may be a bit more fierce, but I find I really like the sweeter film Jamie. They may be a bit different, but I love them both!

      • love Sam’s portrayal too! I just wanted to see more of his backbone! Really missed the fight scene when he finally got fed up! I appreciate your clarification, but I looked at wrote and hope this version better represents my thoughts and feelings. Thanks again!

      • Kathryn Schultz

        I understand what you’re saying about Jamie’s demand for her promise being less harsh in the show, but I think that will cause a problem (for both of them) later, because he was less clear in spelling out the consequences than he was in the book. In the book Clair knew exactly what he had threatened, so the consequences, though still not acceptable to a 20th-Century woman, could not have been a complete surprise to her. I am thinking that is the reaction we will see from her in Episode 9, and it will seem less fair.

  4. I really like the analogy I read somewhere–maybe here?–that Jamie and Claire and Frank have been loved so long that (kinda like the Velveteen Rabbit) they have become Real. And as Real People, their story can be told one way by Herself and another way (with other scenes and details and highlighted moments) by Ron, et al, and both collections of “re”-tellings are equally true.

  5. GinnyR11

    I’m enjoying this blog, except that it’s readable without logging in. Then when I try to read the single entry that requires logging in, I fail, over and over and….. sigh.. 😦 And over…. again. I am already logged in, according to the line below the reply box. So frustrating. Any suggestions?

  6. Susan Grandt

    I think that many people feel as I do, that they want all their favorite lines and moments from Outlander immortalized on film. “All” of them just isn’t gonna happen, and it takes me a few viewing of each week’s episode (more or less, depending) to come to terms with that. That most emphatically doesn’t mean that I don’t love this adaptation, because I do, and I am most grateful to Ron and Co., and Starz. But this isn’t unconditional love. If we want this series to continue for years, yes, we fans need to be supportive. But if we want to truly enjoy all those years, our wishes and expectations need to be taken into some consideration. I think they have been, and I have faith that they will continue to be, as long as caring people are at the helm. I do have to admit, sometimes I feel a bit like a little kid who really wanted a specific toy for their birthday, and they got something else instead. For a short while, I’m (dare I say it) pouting a bit. But before long, I’m going “hey, this is a cool new thing I got” !

  7. Cristin Watts (@Cristin1234)

    Oh Beth, I am so sorry you seem to have fallen victim to one more of the classic blunders….Never go against a ‘true long term fan’ when death (or their Jamie) is on the line! You just summed up completely why I stepped away from Facebook, actually. It felt like junior high school cliques all over again, and ,like you, I really like the show! I don’t love everything they have changed, but as you and others have pointed out, our beloved book IS a book, and you cannot translate a book to the screen as easily and fan-pleasingly as some believe. The amount of time some of the ‘true book fans’ and conversely some of the ‘true Ron fans’ spend on attacking other opinions is mind boggling. Worry not, even if you do get a few trolls here and there , I for one appreciate an honest review.
    Oh, and sorry for the ‘Princess Bride’ quote. I couldn’t resist 😎

    • LOL! I haven’t spent as much time on Facebook as I do twitter. You’re right it does feel more adult on twitter. And, I too get fed up with the “true fan” elitist stuff. Thanks for the comments and for reading!

  8. Beth, I was driven (lead, pointed) in this direction by Molly Shannon, after I was attacked on Facebook today for rather forcefully saying much of the same thing you have said about character development of Jamie in the show and the development of his and Claire’s relationship. I LOVE the show, but I felt that in Episodes 5 and 8 in particular there were some things that got a little off track. You have done a marvelous job of expressing many of those same concerns, and WHAT A BREATH OF FRESH AIR the comments are here!! Hello all you kindred spirits! Thanks for renewing my faith in humanity!!!! :):) Melinda Ray, Granbury, Texas

  9. Beth, I was involved in an internet fan “wars” years ago over a tv show I loved at the time. People started personally attacking other people and it got downright nasty. It caused me to leave the online fandom because it destroyed all the fun of the show for me. I also lost some people I believed were my (internet) friends over it which really hurt me at the time.I didn’t understand why people were so dogmatic and felt that they had to attack those who happened to have different opinions from theirs. Because of that experienceI have been very hesitant to venture back into any kind of internet fandom since then.

    When the series began I found and read on the Compuserve forums. While I don’t see ad hominem attacks being made there I get the very strong impression that it is not PC to express any real criticism or disagreement with the shows direction. People trying to express their opinions in a respectful manner are not attacked, but there are immediately floods of comments basically saying “This isn’t the books. Forget the books. Everything is perfect. Don’t criticize the show”. It’s all done perfectly politely, but any substantive discussion of any possible flaws in the series is quickly and quietly shut down and/or diverted. That makes me sad.

    I love that the posters on your site express their opinions in a well reasoned way and they are respectful and listen to others opinions without personal attacks. I feel like opinions on both sides of whatever issue is up for discussion are welcomed and considered. I don’t get the feeling that you have to take a certain side or you will be jumped all over, or ignored, or shut out.

    Nothing in life is perfect. No one is perfect. The books aren’t perfect. The show certainly isn’t perfect although it is damned excellent. I’ve been doing what I do in my career for 30 plus years and yet I still make mistakes or don’t always do things the best way possible. We all do that.The show creators aren’t any different from us. Mostly they get things right, but sometimes they get them wrong. That’s called being human and there is no shame in it.

    I still believe there has been too little Jamie character development and too much Frank, but I also have come to understand some of the reasons why the show creators may have thought it necessary. I’ve never believed it is an evil conspiracy to destroy Jamie. I think maybe they just got so caught up in what they were doing that they went a bit too far with it. That can happen.
    Ever tried to balance a scale? At first it’s too heavy on one side so you overcompensate the other way. It can take a few tries until you get exactly the right weight in each half. Thats how I’m looking at the Frank/Jamie character development right now. They wanted to develop Frank (and some of the other characters) a bit more than the book did but ended up putting too much on their side of the scale.

    We now hear that they are correcting things for the second half. Maybe that was always their intent, but it’s interesting to me that we hear about it now after the many comments made all over the net in the last few days about the lack of Jamie development. (I also find it interesting about the Jamie voiceovers. That is certainly one way to make some changes without the expense of re-filming scenes or adding scenes that were not filmed.)

    I actually hope that’s what happened. If it is, it reinforces to me that they really DO want to get this right and they have listened to what is being said and have decided that there is some merit in the fans’ response. They want to make the best show possible and are confident enough in their ability to do so to acknowledge and learn from their mistakes. I would respect them all the more for that.

    In closing, thank you for your blog, and thank you to the people who read and post comments here. We may not always agree but you all have something of worth to say and I have learned a lot over the past week after hearing your viewpoints.

    • What a wonderful response! Welcome! Yes, I find my readers comments to be respectful and enlightening. I learn from them every time I write. Thank you for reading and I hope to hear from you again!

  10. Nymerias

    Hi Beth, we have had Twitter sessions before, (outlanderdreaming) where I cannot get all my thoughts out in 140 characters. I have been down this road before, in the form of True Blood and Alan Ball’s adaptation of the Southern Vampire Mysteries. There was a major team war, which I abstract detest and both the show and the book series went on for far too long. Both lacked steam and direction.

    There was general nastiness, where bookies were labeled as haters and rapids. Book fans were not mad at minor changes, they were upset with the big ones that changed the dynamic of the story as well as the characters themselves and their motivations. Lines that were central to one characters chemical make-up as well as his actions were given to another character. These things and more is what made fans tune out.

    I read Outlander because a friend recommended the series, to get me hooked obviously and it was a welcome distraction. What we are getting from Outlander is a true adaptation and it is coming from someone who actually knows the meaning of that word. He is not making major changes that will effect the outcome of where the story is going. It is just a little detour on that path. I think I feel this way because I was just in a fandom where it was book to show and I know how bad it can get. Luckily, I am not seeing the same pattern with this particular adaptation.

    The only pattern I am seeing is the comments you mentioned, ‘don’t like it, don’t watch’s or ‘this is an ensemble cast’ or and this is my favorite ‘ it isn’t going to be a word for word, scene by scene kind of show so get over it’ I got called lots of mean and and nasty names, to the point where I had to defend myself, which made me no Angel. I don’t want my Outlander fandom to turn out like that.I refuse to go down that road again. I like the road I am on now, it’s quite peaceful these days.

    My advice to you would be to yes watch it your way but don’t get so hung up on the things that you are missing that you miss out on the beauty of Outlander that IS being captured. If True Blood taught me anything, it taught me not to sweat the small stuff. This topic (or something close to it) was going to be my next blog post but it is better served here.

    Love your thoughts and your writing style….xxx

    • Thank you. I did read charlaine and that was perfect example of what can happen! I do like the series and find if I give myself a bit of time I get over my disappointment. It is definitely still Outlander. I’m afraid DGs comments will only full the bashing fire. I think I’m glad there is 6mths till the next episode! Gives folks time to forget. This will be my last post on the subject. Just sad people can’t express themselves without fear.

      • Nymerias

        Oh you should never be afraid to express yourself. I don’t think Ron and company will get mad or anything. You are not calling them names. Reading some things (not yours) felt like I got into the Deleoran and went back in time to another fandom. I was ready to run for the hills

  11. “People keep pointing out that the books and the show are entirely separate. In fact, they say they are separate entities! They then go on to prove their point about character or plot development by “QUOTING THE BOOK”. You can’t have it both ways people! If it is, in fact, a show based on a book then it is natural to make comparisons. ”

    Excellent point and I am guilty as charged. I will keep your thoughts in mind going forward. Love your blog, by the way.

  12. I’ve never been a part of a fandom before, so really didn’t know what to expect. I never expected that we’d see everything (Davina’s audiobook reading is over 30 hours long!) and I think Ron & Co. are doing a fantastic job.

    Having said that, I am in agreement with you that the Jamie development is a wee bit weak. We’re not privy to what’s in the next 8 episodes, so we can only form our opinions from what we’ve been given.

    There are book fans who will complain about everything, but that’s not me and it’s not you. I am not so keen to be called a whiner for voicing one small concern when I spend my hard-earned money on a channel just for Outlander.

  13. Eileen

    Beth, I am really enjoying your thoughtful posts. I find that on my first viewing, I am often a bit disappointed by unmet expectations. I am missing beloved lines or scenes, or disappointed that the episode didn’t get as far as I’d hoped. (Is the hour up already?!?) On my second viewing, I know what to expect and I am able to better appreciate the episode’s structure and details I missed the first time. I hated the wedding episode the first time (what’s all this jumping around?) but after watching it several more times and reading other comments I actually really like it. After watching 8 episodes, I’ve learned to expect and allow myself the disappointment and try to get more quickly to the appreciation phase.

    I still miss beloved lines and scenes, but seeing these beloved characters brought to life in such a professional and beautiful way makes up for it for me. I am seeing minor characters in a much more well-rounded light, and the scenery–just wow! I think one of my favorite episodes so far is 103 “The Way Out”, and the Black Kirk scene is awesome…and not in the book. When I compare this adaptation to others, I am very pleased.

    Anyone ever see the “Legend of the Seeker” TV show? Now THAT was an adaptation that was a total disappointment. Like “Outlander”, it was based on a series of thick books with interesting characters and far too much to include, but they failed to capture the soul of the lead character. I couldn’t watch it past the first season. (I should have known when they burned the book in the first episode…it was more than just a dramatic scene.)

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts and helping me expand my understanding too. I always learn something from reading other fan’s reactions and ideas, and it really helps me appreciate the story that much more. Keep up the great work!

    • I own almost all of the Terry Goodkind books-never got past the first episode! I am used to “adaptations” being a huge reader so I know how to temper expectations and accept changes (to a point lol) but that one was….wow.

      (Yes another_very_ late response but I still wanted to add my 2 cents!)

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