The Outlander Series: a Unique, Genre-bending Drama

What if your future was the past?

At first, I was skeptical because historical period dramas tend to get too deep into the blood and gore, but book adaptations have always been a weakness of mine.

Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling Outlander novels have been the rave ever since she published the first one more than twenty years ago. I generally knew what the series was about—a former World War II nurse being mysteriously transported back to 1745 Scotland while on her honeymoon there, in 1943. It was only after I watched the first episode that I decided to see how the screen adaptation was portrayed in the book. It was a unique concept and a slightly scary one.

Claire Randall, a highly skilled nurse from 20th century England, travels to Scotland with her new husband, Frank Randall. It was there that she visited the standing stone circle called Craigh Na Dun, that transported her to 18th century Scotland. There she meets the Redcoats, more importantly Johnathan ‘Black Jack’Randall, an ancestor to Claire’s 20th century husband, Frank, and Jamie Fraser, a Scottish soldier and Jacobite rebel who she marries first, then falls in love with. As she struggles to balance her 18th century and 20th century lives, including being a woman in a time when women were regarded differently, she must decide where to keep her heart—with the gentle husband she left behind or the defiant new one she falls in love with.

Everything is spot on with the books, even one of the more controversial plotlines—rape. When Black Jack, the ruthless Redcoat who makes Jamie and Claire’s lives literal hell, takes a disturbing interest in Jamie and he acts upon it in one of the more spine-chilling scenes in the series. It’s hard to read, and even harder to watch as Balfe, Heughan and Menzies give us a performance worthy of an award. Outlander, not without holes in its plotlines, is a show worth spending time watching. It’s interesting to see how well these diverse actors work within the contrasting timelines of the two centuries, and if you’re not paying attention you’ll miss a whole lot.


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