I woke this morning to yet another glowing, respectful and…insightful review of Outlander. And, it wasn’t just about the finale, the entire 1st season is being touted as the most brave and honest show on TV. I have had nothing to do with anything other than being along for the ride from the day Diana announced the series was a go and yet, I’m as proud as a parent of a particularly bright child! I am proud to be a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s wonderfully detailed books that are grounded in truths about life, relationships and the nature of love and now I’m a proud fan of a TV show that wasn’t afraid to do the same.
I know there continues to be some concern from some book fans that Jamie and Claire’s relationship got short changed in this adaptation process. I’ll be the first to admit, I had my own concerns and voiced them, but I’ve since grown to be a bit more relaxed about this whole adaptation thing. In fact, this week I realized Ron’s version may have managed to correct an often voiced complaint about both main characters in the book. Frequently, I’ve heard fans say that both characters are almost to good to be true (well, Jamie at least), too perfect or too strong to relate to. I’ll admit Claire intimidates the shit out of me; that’s one hell of a woman. The TV version of Jamie is more relatable, less funny IMHO, but less perfect and therefore more relatable. He is still being portrayed as a young man with “nice feelings” , emotional intelligence, a man who thinks on his feet. However, he is also been allowed to fumble a bit (Lallybroch comes to mind) just like any young man in his situation would. He ISN’T perfect, but true to Jamie form he always gets it right in the end. He is a wonderful example of what it means to be a man and that includes owning up when you’ve made a mistake and not being afraid to try a new way of thinking. Those things I truly loved about book Jamie are still there loyalty, integrity, bravery, sensitivity, vulnerability, and the ability to love unselfishly. How often have you seen a man portrayed like that on TV?
And Claire? Has a woman portrayed on TV ever been allowed to be as one critic said “a true superhero” ? Claire has always made me proud to be a woman and TV Claire has just reinforced that I was right to feel this way. The show has managed to show the world that a woman can be all things; strong , smart, compassionate, sexually confident, gentle, loving, and fiercely protective of those she loves. “God help the man who gets between you and what you want”. And, yet she is portrayed with faults as well. Tell the truth, how many of you wanted to reach through the screen and shake her for not keeping her mouth shut!
I’ve heard Ron say they knew where the show was going and they discussed how to get the characters and story there through each episode. They did it by foreshadowing the end from the very beginning. They did it by staying true to the spirit of Miss Gabaladon’s story and the character’s motivations. They weren’t afraid to go there.
The critics are saying that nothing feels gratuitous. They say the characters and story have EARNED the audiences’ respect because it stays true to its vision to show these characters reacting honestly to what happens to them. The show is being called ground-breaking, brave, fearless, and confident. This is a far cry from those initial critiques that warned that the show was based on, and I quote, “a bodice ripping romance novel that will only appeal to bored middle-age housewives and your grandmother”. So, despite the fact that Frank was given time on screen, Jamie was portrayed as less than perfect, and Claire didn’t get to tell Jamie the reason she chose to stay, I’d say they did Herself and fans proud. I’ll be watching tonight to see what evil can do and what love can do and what dedicated actors, writers, directors, costumers, set designers, and…producers can do.