It was the weekend Outlander episode 4 of season two aired. I was home alone. So many options for this rare moment! What should I do? Curl up with a good book? Catch up with family and friends on my phone? Get a good night’s sleep for a change?
All good possibilities. Instead, I obsessively watched and rewatched (four times) Outlander episode 4.
It’s a behavior that’s not unusual at my house. My rewatching (and rereading) Outlander has reached a point where my husband looks at me periodically with more than a little concern. “But you know what’s going to happen?” he says, trying hard not to shake his head but maybe not always succeeding. I simply look at him and say, “You just don’t get it.”
The good news is that diehard Outlander fans would defend me in a heartbeat and I now have the (semi)scientific proof. I did a survey asking Outlander fans about their TV show viewing habits and the results are clear. Almost 100 percent of respondents rewatch every episode (with one interesting exception) multiple times.
On the one hand, the survey results (hang tight, details are coming!) aren’t shocking. You need only spend two minutes online or on any social media to know that Outlander fans are an addicted a dedicated bunch. Facebook has group pages galore with thousands of members (who also belong to more than one group I will add). Twitter is filled with Outlander tweets on minutiae even I find amazing. And Tumblr? Well, Tumblr is its own Outlander rabbit hole, especially for shippers. (Don’t know about shippers? Read blogging colleague Anne Gavin’s explanation. And a look at one #Obsessenach’s personal story, read Holly Richter-White’s confessions of an Outlander fanatic.)
But even I was surprised to see the level of Outlander dedication. All told 243 people responded to the survey in the 48 hours it was up. BTW that was with some sharing by my blogging colleagues, two tweets by yours truly and one posting on our blog’s Facebook group, Outlander Cast Clan Gathering. (What? You’re not a member?? Get thee hence ASAP!) My point is it didn’t take much for people to jump in and answer because, oh wait, they’re obsessed.
Here’s what I found:
(The survey covered season one and two BTW.)
• 98% rewatch Outlander generally (not really sure if that 2% can call themselves real fans but whatever)
• The number of times rewatchers rewatch was fairly evenly divided:
33% rewatch 1-3 times
34% 4-7 times
34% checked the “who can keep count” category
But here’s the part that really begins to differentiate Outlander fans. While people certainly rewatch favorite shows, — if they happen to hit on them while scrolling with the remote, for instance, or maybe they even decide to rewatch for some reason — #Obsessenachs start rewatching almost as soon as the last credit rolls. According to the survey:
29% rewatch within minutes for their first viewing
25% rewatch on the same day
33% review within a few days but certainly before the next episode
22% watch “whenever I need a boost and have free time….”
(Very scientific aside: Being in one category obviously does not mean you can’t also be in the last category. Clearly more research is needed.)
Also unique to the Outlander phenomenon: 49% do not typically rewatch other TV shows ever, while 38% say they sometimes do. Regardless of which category they fell into, 87% (!) said they hadn’t ever rewatched any other TV show the way they rewatch Outlander. (Starz executives take note! You’ve got a winner here. Announce you’re doing the whole book series for God’s sake and put us out of our misery!)
No surprises on what episode respondents rewatched the most. It was “The Wedding” from season one with a solid 67%. “The Reckoning” was next at 10%, followed by “Sassenach” at 8%. The episode that got zero votes for the most rewatching? “Wentworth Prison.”
Lots of the TV rewatchers are also Outlander book fans. Nearly 100% (98% if you want to know the exact number) have read at least some of the books, with 74% having read all of them.
And a majority of the survey takers (84%) have also — wait for it — reread the books. Nearly half (48%) have done so 2-3 times, while 35% have reread them 4-6 times and 17% are on 7 reads and counting.
Now fandoms and obsessive behaviors, of course, aren’t new. The Beatles? The Monkees? Raise your hand if you or someone you know stood in line for the release of at least one Harry Potter book? Hell, women apparently threw themselves at the 18th century poet Lord Byron.
But this rewatching part of the Outlander cult is clearly unique. I asked members of the Outlander Cast Clan Gathering Facebook group why they rewatch so much. Here are a few of their answers that, I think, sum up what drives all of us in our viewing habits:
• “I have imagined them in my mind so it is fascinating to see them on screen.” (Seeing the books come to life came up a lot in explanations.)
• “I can’t ever get enough Jamie and Claire. I savor their interactions. Plus, just as in the books but nowhere near as much, I find new details with rereads/rewatches.” (A lot of people noted the details explanation.)
• “The first viewing is usually about the story and on subsequent viewings I focus more on the incredible costumers and scenery — all so marvelously detailed…there is always some detail or facial expression that I didn’t fully appreciate the first time.”
• “Why have another bite of dessert even though you’re not hungry anymore? Because it’s so darn enjoyable. Then after listening to a few podcasts, I have to watch again to catch points they mentioned that I missed. And then perhaps another bite of dessert.” (Shameless plug. We assume you’re listening to Outlander Cast with Mary and Blake, right? Link at the bottom of the blog.)
And my personal favorite:
• “It’s escapism. It’s my happy place where the troubles of the real world (which at times can be many and very difficult) disappear into the background. The show is so all encompassing, with the plot, characters, cinematography, costumes and music, that it blocks out the real world. I can pretend for a time that I’m Claire and have Jamie there to protect me. Plus their problems are so far removed from mine that I can’t identify and take on their stress. I can just watch and enjoy and take strength from their strength. If they can get through, so can I.”
So to all the questioning/concerned significant others/friends/family members out there wondering if your person-of-concern is off the deep end with Outlander, the short answer is “yes.” But the good news is she’s not the only one.
Are you an obsessive Outlander rewatcher? What’s the most you’ve rewatched an episode? What’s your favorite episode to rewatch? Are you rewatching more this season than last? Share the details! You’re among friends here!