Those of you around since the beginning can remember the excitement we all felt about Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander finally being put on a screen. We had waited a long time for someone to come along with a “plan” that would do justice to her epic, hard to describe, genre-bending story. We couldn’t wait for the world to see what we believed to be one of the best stories ever written. We just knew people would fall in love with it as much as we had. So, we speculated and discussed and hoped that Starz and Ron Moore and company would do it justice. I can remember how excited we all were to read what others, non-book fans, critics, thought of the series.
I’ll admit to being a bit invested in the show’s success and maybe not the most unbiased of reviewers of the reviews, but reading those first articles was a real eye-opener for me and other fans. I learned a bit about how the critique game seems to work and about the biases that seem to be inherent in that field of endeavor. We learned very quickly that the show had an image issue. It was being dismissed because of it’s perceived subject matter and the fact that it was a show being marketed to women. To quote my writer self of three plus years ago:
I find it very disturbing that in addition to disparaging middle-age, it seems being a woman disqualifies us as purveyors of what is worthy. Really? Look around. I believe that the world is full of …women… who work, pay taxes, run for office, educate, raise families, run charities, serve in the military, run and create businesses, heal and write. And, us middle-age ones often have enough money to buy books AND movie channels! Not sure some folks understand that women are a force to be reckoned with! But, take it from this middle-aged woman who tries to create a loving home for her family and at times is bored (not while reading Diana) some t.v. Execs and media moguls are about to find out!
The critics and entertainment writers for the most part seemed to latch on to each other’s perceptions and the same pop-culture cliques were bandied about and sprinkled through almost every article we read. We repeatedly saw comparisons to Game of Thrones, insistence that this was bored housewife porn, and that it was romantic fluff not to be taken seriously and that it certainly wouldn’t be watched by men and therefore was doomed to failure. We weren’t happy campers. Our battle cry was “Just wait you’ll see!” We KNEW why Starz bought Ron Moore’s pitch. They recognized a “ripping good yarn” when they saw one. Kudos to them for taking a gamble and not being afraid to produce a show targeted to a female audience.
I’m happy to say that the reviews got better as the seasons progressed and more and more folks have started to sit up and take notice of this show. Men do watch by the way, but even if they didn’t, I would say that Starz has to be happy they took the risk. Outlander is a great show and despite our occasional grumbling about what has been left in or out of the story or departures from the book, most fans are thrilled and proud of the production. This season it appears our hopes for the show, its producers, directors, stars, writers, production/creative directors, their staff and crews have come true. Me thinks “they” finally get it and Diana’s wonderful story and the loving produced production will finally get the attention and accolades they deserve.
I haven’t found a single negative review.
In fact, the praise as been nothing short of remarkable. Here are some of my favorite comments and some links to the articles.
…But tucked inside Outlander‘s salacious exterior is an intelligent, well-acted drama about the nature of love and intimacy, with an often radical position on sex….
…Physical intimacy advances character development rather than checking a prestige-television boobs box. Claire and Jamie have a real relationship, and their connection is more than chemistry; it’s the work that goes into any couple’s emotional and sexual life…
…It’s a romance, but it’s not a fantasy. So go ahead — watch Outlander with pride. It’s more than a pretty face (and buttock)…
Outlander is already considered a phenomenon to those who have fallen under the spell of the books and this exceptional adaptation. In its third year on TV, it feels primed to break through even wider, not just as a filler of the Game of Thrones void, but as an emotionally rich, powerful piece of storytelling in its own right.
…Outlander remains a broad-minded entertainment, but what gets me the most hot is the romance — and how everything else the show does well makes the romance more ravishing.
…In season 3, Outlander, TV’s best romance, soars by making you fall in love with it all over again. A–
…Like The Walking Dead and Game Of Thrones, Outlander often hits the target because of its brazen approach. Yet, to its credit and craftsmanship, in this latest chapter of Claire and Frank’s tale there is an empathetic and insightful touch the series previously only hinted at in its bodice-bursting passions. It’s a touch that makes Season 3 of Outlander something you’ll want to see this fall.
…Then there is a bit more, an important addition that scales the Golden Globe nominated series to a new level. By that bit more, I mean that Balfe and Heughan are stronger than ever this year, as is the excellent Menzies. I also mean (and Heughan fans hear me out) the doomed heart of the early part of this new season, which Moore has called transitional: the grinding reality of Claire’s loveless, faithless but child-rearing marriage to her first husband and Black Jack descendant Frank in the Boston of the mid-20th century.
Salon (loved this)
…Often the Starz drama is lauded for its incredible set and costume design and ambitious cinematic scope, but the series’ pensive, poetic exploration of the human heart’s mysteries, and the quixotic nobility of commitment, is singularly brilliant and underappreciated in the realm of top shelf TV dramas.
…Romance tends to be dismissed as a soft genre. “Outlander” is anything but soft. Time and again it visits unspeakable cruelties on its hero Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), Claire’s great love in the 18th century, including in the second season finale, when Jamie virtuously sends Claire back to the 1940s and into the arms of her first husband, Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies), who is waiting for her.
For all of the despair the narrative visits upon its characters, “Outlander” remains as seductive as ever, in part due to the dangled promise of the second season finale that its lovers would one day be reunited. Because of this, the story never sinks under any ballast of hopelessness, choosing instead to spend time allowing viewers to perceive the pangs of loss in order to sweeten the arrival of any uplift fate, or the show’s writers, deem fit to dispense.
This article interviewed the creators and cast and it confirmed for me that they get it too. They know these characters and the story and they care. This is a quote from writer executive producer Matt B. Roberts.
“What’s so interesting to me is that people always talk about the print shop scene, and really for me it’s the print shop episode,” she says with a smile. “[Writer] Matt Roberts did such a great job in giving fans, hopefully, what they want in trying to create his own story as well. For me, it’s just the whole episode I needed to get right, not just that moment. It’s not just one scene.”
This article is written by Mo Ryan, one of my favorites, who always seems to be thoughtful and honest.
…Over the past two seasons of the show, it’s become obvious that they’ve all worked hard to make the emotional bonds among their characters meaningful and even a little unpredictable.
In this article, the actors discuss their characters and how they decided to “play” them. While discussing Jamie, Tobias asserts:
Menzies: He’s not driven by ego, is he?
Yeah, me thinks they all get it and I couldn’t be happier.