Is Outlander still a groundbreaking TV show, a description used by many in the news media and fandom after Outlander Season 1. Blogger Andrée Poppleton shares her thoughts on why the description may no longer hold.
Just to set the scene here — The Outlander story is important to me. I am as much a die-hard Outlander fan as anyone. I have all the credentials: repeated viewings, bingeing, reading all the books and listening to all the audio books multiple times. I visit the Outlander locations and watch the filming on occasion (if I am lucky enough to be in bonny Scotland). And importantly, I am not one to complain and pick the nits from the book-to-screen transition. I understand that it’s a different medium, with different constraints and priorities for storytelling.
All that said, I was aware that after each episode of Outlander Season 4, I found myself becoming sadder and sadder about what has become of Jamie and Claire in the on-screen version of my favourite book-based story. This is not about the production of the show or the look of the show; it’s about the feel of the show. The feel of the story of our central couple, the hero and heroine, has changed so much, and I have a sense of loss from this.
Actually, it’s about two things — sex and feminism.
When Outlander the show was new, commentators and critics used descriptions like “ground- breaking,” “radical” and “progressive.” Outlander was hailed as a cutting-edge TV show. This was essentially because the depiction of the central couple was in fact radically different from anything hitherto seen on television. There was much talk of the female gaze and a feminist perspective. We were shown a relationship where heterosexual sexuality was expressed in an egalitarian fashion. Please note that I am not referring at all to the sexual assault scenes of Outlander (which are about power relationships, not sexuality) but the consensual sexuality of Jamie and Claire.
And they had fun, too.
In the early days the producers, writers and actors alike seemed to revel in this analysis of the show. Ron D. Moore said that the show would not have gratuitous sex, but instead they would show what really happens in a sexual relationship (between a consenting heterosexual couple). And if my memory serves me correctly, I heard Sam Heughan say that this show is different because we don’t fade to black in the intense, intimate moments. Then, they started fading to black.
Why the change? Some say that with so much material to cover from the books there just isn’t time to focus so closely on Jamie and Claire’s intimate life. To that I would ask, why then is there SO MUCH time to spend on people wandering, stumbling, hobbling or being dragged through the countryside, and feeding goats and horses, doing the washing and passing the potatoes. (ye ken?)
In one interview (maybe at San Diego Comicon?) in response to an interviewer jokingly mentioning that his grandmother liked the sex scenes, Caitriona Balfe said she loves that an old woman finds it thrillingly sexy and hopes that when she’s that age that can happen for her.
More recently, on November 23rd, 2018 (when interviewed by Debra Birnbaum on Remote Controlled) Balfe was asked again about possible upcoming sex scenes in the show. She said that when Outlander first screened, she was shocked that people were lauding their sex scenes as somehow revolutionary, and she discovered that women were starved for representation and for stories told from a female point of view. “There’s a lot of horny grannies out there,” she said. However she went on to say that it was easier to depict the sex scenes for a couple falling in love and meeting for the first time, that this fits easily with the narrative. But it’s difficult fitting this in to the lives of a couple who have been together for a long time — how to keep it new, fresh and interesting. How to make it part of the plot without just shoe-horning sex scenes into the story is a challenge for the actors and the writers going forward. She said fans may just have to get their titillation elsewhere.
There is surely a shift in attitude as the series has progressed. At the same time, the actors, producers and writers often cite their ability to refer to the source material, Diana Gabaldon’s books. When consulting the source material as a whole (not just individual scenes perhaps?), do they not see that Jamie and Claire’s enduring bond is the molten core of the story? And that they continue to be a couple where sex (and really passionate, intense sex) is integral, and a frequent occurrence in their relationship? And not just the languid, tender moments and longing looks we mostly saw in Outlander Season 4, as sweet and lovely as they were. Their sexual relationship is not a plot line for this warrior couple; it is a refuge, a sacred space for the two of them, which underlies and enhances the plot.
Remember when make-up sex was really passionate?
For those who are not book readers and may not know the intensity of this attachment between Claire and Jamie even as they grow older, here is an excerpt from An Echo in the Bone when Jamie and Claire are around 60 years old. It’s a scene in the chapter “Transverse Lie,” where Claire is returning home exhausted after attending a difficult childbirth … Jamie comes out and meets her on the path home ….
“I need you, please,” she whispered, her mouth against his, and without reply he took her up in his arms … and kissed her deep, then put her down and led her down the hill, the light snow seeming to melt away from their feet as they walked.
It seemed like no time at all to reach the barn …. It was too cold to undress, but he laid his cloak in the straw, her upon it, and lay upon her, both of them shivering as they kissed, so their teeth clacked together and they drew back, snorting.
“This is silly,” she said. “I can see my breath, — and yours. It’s cold enough to blow smoke rings. We’ll freeze.”
“No we won’t. Ken the way the Indians make fire?”
“What, rubbing a dry stick on a ….”
“Aye, friction.” He’d got her petticoats up; her thigh was smooth and cold under his hand. “I see it’s no going to be dry, though — Christ Sassenach, what have ye been about?’“He had her firmly in the palm of his hand, warm and soft and juicy, and she squealed at the chill of his touch, loud enough that one of the mules let out a startled wheeze. She wriggled, just enough to make him take his hand out from between her legs and insert something else, quick.
…. He wanted to simply let go at once .. (but) A dim sense of obligation reminded him that she’d asked him for this; she needed it. He couldn’t go and leave her wanting.
And so it goes on … and on ….. and on … until ….
He pulled out the finger and guddled her, light and quick, all along the slick deep parts, feeling his own cock under his fingers, big and slippery, stretching her ….
He made a terrible noise himself — like a dying cow — but was too happy to be shamed.
“Ye’re no verra peaceful, Sassenach,” he murmured a moment later, …. “But I like ye fine.”
To show a scene like that on television, an ‘older’ couple married for many, many years having sex like that, would be quite a challenge to our society’s youth culture, and would indeed be ground-breaking.
Executive Producer Maril Davis said that the scene in Outlander Episode 401 where Jamie and Claire have sex in the woods (after shaking off Stephen Bonnet), was a “nod” to a very sexy scene in the book. In the book, Jamie happens upon Claire who has decided to have a bit of hot sex with herself while waiting for him to turn up! The scene in the book is wondrous, because, harking back to the wedding night when the naïve young Jamie did not know women could have orgasms, here, the much older Jamie did not know that women could masturbate. This is an example of how in the source material Jamie and Claire are always discovering and enjoying new things about each other, often reflecting their different perspectives and understandings from different times. The TV scene, which opened with Claire dabbing Jamie’s naked torso with some kind of damp cloth, does not really evoke the intent of the book. To show that scene would’ve been radical, like the good old days.
So, what did some of the commentators say back in those good old days?
In her 2014 HuffPost article “Outlander and the Female Gaze: Why Women Are Watching,” Jenny Trout wrote:
‘Outlander presents a fantasy that doesn’t seek to appease the pornography-influenced tastes of a straight male audience…
Outlander is a drama crafted for the straight female gaze…Instead of painting female pleasure on the male terms of the virgin/whore dichotomy, the audience is shown sex as a normal, matter-of-fact piece of the relationship puzzle.”
“Female sexuality isn’t demonised, and engaging in sex doesn’t diminish Claire as a character,” she continues. “Outlander is the rare television drama that shows us a woman who is sexually experienced without being the villain of the piece, and a man who sees her desire and pleasure as a participatory experience, rather than an object to edify his own importance.”
“It’s far too easy to suggest that the repressed desires of bored housewives are driving Outlander’s success,” Trout notes. ”Women know better. When presented with a complex, emotionally engaging plot and sensual content that doesn’t degrade or shame female sexuality, they’ll tune in, gladly. If the growing fan base is any indication, Outlander is the show that television has been needing for a long, long time’.
In the online literary journal, Overload, Jodi Mcalister added her take on this phenomenon in her 2014 article, ‘The Radical, Romantic Female Gaze of Outlander’.
Outlander, she writes, shows us a “relationship which is radically egalitarian, given the power dynamics inherent not only in the heterosexual relationships of the eighteenth century but also those we frequently see on screen. Jamie does not want to just look at or sleep with Claire: he wants to know her, to talk to her, to listen to her, to understand her. He is anxious to know whether she enjoys sex — ‘did you like it?’ he asks Claire immediately following their first sexual encounter.”
‘Their communicative, caring and mutually participatory sex life, governed by a romantic erotics of talk, is a welcome contrast to both common male gaze-driven scenes elsewhere and to the scenes of sexual violence within the show, where male aggressors attempt to treat the female body as an object to overpower and use. In ”The Wedding,” in Outlander Season 1, “without the threat of sexual violence, the female viewer can be content simply to take pleasure in looking,” Mcalister writes.
More recently, on October 23rd, 2017 Carly Lane wrote a piece for SYFY called ”It’s No Coincidence that the Sexiest Episodes of Outlander Were Written By Women.“ This was written ahead of the much anticipated print shop reunion of Jamie and Claire.
“The Wedding, … was hailed back in Season 1 for its unapologetic representation of the female gaze on-screen; it felt revolutionary in a sea of ill-conceived and lazy depictions of sex on television, many of which aired within that same time frame. A. Malcolm feels primed to garner similar praise for a lot of the same reasons. It’s what both episodes share, however, that should be a leading focus among critics: the perspective of a female filmmaker. When episodes like these are demonstrating the potential of sexual representation on-screen and the consideration afforded to female desire, anything less feels like table scraps. Outlander may not be for every fan, but the statements it’s choosing to put forward about sex are proof of a positive shift in the realm of genre television.”
Unfortunately, those days seem to have disappeared.
Outlander is no longer spoken of as radical, ground-breaking, revolutionary and/or progressive. Even though it has the most amazingly wonderful production values and fabulous actors, it has become, in many ways, another historical drama. The show is brimming with adventures, cliff hangers, great characters and performances, social commentary and lots of sentimentality. It has lost touch, however, with the thrust and depth (puns intended) of the writings of Diana Gabaldon, who shows us a relationship like nothing we have seen before on television — an egalitarian relationship where the joy, intensity, fun, playfulness and excitement of being a couple never stops for Claire and Jamie, despite the passing of years and all the dramas that develop and revolve around them.
I will always watch Outlander, and will wait for each season with bated breath to see my favourite characters and stories brought to life in such a magnificent production. And I will always hope that some of the flames of Outlander Season One may be rekindled. That thrill and newness is never lost in the books. But right now, for me, sadly, Outlander the TV show has lost its beating heart and its cutting edge.
P.S. In a post Outlander Season 4 finale interview with Julie Kosin of Harpers Bazaar, Sam Heughan said that he and Caitriona Balfe are “hoping to have a lot more influence in the characters and the storyline, and be part of that creatively” for Outlander Season 5. He said they want to “influence the journey and the story and also to be the guardians of our characters and to protect that,“ Let’s hope that is the case, and that these two can reclaim their original authenticity, their presence, and let their juicy chemistry flow into the show once again. As we all know, together, Balfe and Heughan are a sensational tour de force.
What do you think about the points I raised? I’d love to discuss but let’s keep the conversation calm, constructive and respectful, aye?
Andrée has been an Outlander fan since December 2015 when she took a friend’s advice to watch this “great show.” Well that was great advice and since then she has travelled from Australia to Scotland twice and spent lots of time checking out the Outlander action. You can follow Andrée on twitter @andree.poppleton and Instagram @AndreePoppleton for more Outlander action.
Wonderful commentary. This is exactly they way I have been feeling, you put it into words beautifully. Hoping they get back on track, but I am not counting on it. The exclusion of certain key scenes that define the core of the characters are baffling. Like you, it leaves me sad.
Thanks for your comments. Yes, for me its not so much about missing individual scenes (although we would love to see them) as the feel of it. Bring on Season 5 🙂
I see your POV. But the first season had 16 episodes. And the book wasn’t as bj ig as later books. Unfortunately the writers dont have the luxury of trying to get all the wonderful storylines into a 12 or 13 episode seasons.
But in the first season, the writers kept closely to the books, with just slight changes to scenes, other than The Search – and the episode with Tarron McQuarry, there wasn’t so much invented – which enabled them to tell the story of the book, not from their imaginations
thanks for your comments Lisa, as you will see from my post, I’m not really talking about storylines which take up screen time, I’m more talking about recapturing a feeling.
But its also about the (lack of) quality of what they DO include- not the “amount” that is left out.
Thanks Terri 🙂
A very thoughtful and well written article- I agree with your assessment- I didn’t know if the change in focus on J&C was driven by the actors or writers? I’m happy to read Sam & Cait might try to right the ship- things have just seemed off #hopefulforS5
I read from Sam’s comment, and a previous interview with Balfe, that they want to move into directing episodes, not having any input regarding their characters – because Sam’s also said previously that he fights for book Jamie’s character, and is ignored in his pleading, whereas Balfe appears to have assumed the mantle of the feminist 21st Century woman, where the show are injecting modern values on a story based 200 years in the past
Yes! What you said!
So true. Cait needs to be replaced with an actress who is in touch with the essence of Outlander
I agree maybe it is time to replace Cait.
She would be impossible to replace…?
I absolutely don’t think Cait should be replaced! NO way!!!!
Thanks Sandy, yes, I’m always hopeful and still love the show of course 🙂
All. of. this.
Thanks Mama with Mojo 😉 … we’re on the same page then 🙂
Excellent points and my sentiments coincide. Although, I absolutely see that with so much happening in the books with more and more characters bringing new storylines, I can imagine how hard it is to pack it in. (Maybe pun intended).
Ha! 😉 let’s hope they may ‘pack in’ the feeling between J and C 🙂
But they also need to do a better job with the essence of what IS left in and focused on.
Absolutely wonderful description how I feel, in season 4 we are missing the Love we all fell in Love with. Thank you!
Thank you for reading and for your positive comments Anita
Thank you for this article. You’ve hit the nail on the head! I really miss this Outlander.
Thanks for your positive comments Jen ….. hopeful for Season 5 🙂
I feel exactly the same great article Season 1 Episodes 1-7 we’re not exactly like the book but they captured the heart and essence of Jamie and Claire which is. The heart of all 8 books. Then Episode 8 arrived I keep hoping they were just playing a bit more with the story then the 2nd half arrived and the Outlander we all loved was to never show up again. Lallybroch could have been totally rewritten I would not have cared but it was a romantic bounding time for the couple and Jamie was raised to be Laird not be an immature a**. Feminism is not in Outlander the author has even made the statement a woman can be just a strong woman like Claire was which what we loved about her but Jamie made her softer which I loved. Trying to make it something it is not has destroyed the real story. Everything is beautiful the actors mostly good but nothing can save a poor script with fill in the blank story lines which the production just tells us oh you will find it in the book but guess what look all you want 80% of their story is not in the book. No anger I am just heart broken and like you all so very very sad.
I feel the same. So hopeful now that Sam and Caitriona are coproducers for Season five! We need that spark back!
I agree with everything your article said. I wonder if the changes happened because both Sam and cait were just tired and uncomfortable with their sex scenes on screen. They’ve both said they didn’t like doing them. On the other hand Sam really liked the rape by Randall scene??? How can anyone be natural or comfortable with 16 people in the room. Also cait got engaged and now married. Maybe she wants to get pregnant and that’s why she doesn’t want to do the sex scenes anymore. But I can’t see outlander without Jamie and Claire. I do think the two stars are irreplaceable. The new couple just don’t have that quality or chemistry that Sam and cait do. When roger and Bree had their first sex scene I was disgusted with it. The camera spent like 5 minutes in her nipples. I felt insulted. Also this daughter Bree and Sam relationship is uncomfortable. it like daughter and dad feel more like boyfriend and girlfriend material rather than father and daughter. I’d like to know if anyone sees that? I’m gonna give outlander a few more episodes and if Claire isn’t in them I’m gone. I don’t think much of the crew really cast really understood what they had. Cait had called an 89 year old woman horneyvwhen she expressed her love of Janie and Claire relationship and Sam had called outlander a porn parody. Cait should have understood that Jamie and Claire’s sex scenes allowed women to like sex to show they like sex instead of having to hide our feelings about it. It freed them sexually. Im sure the problem are Sam and cait.
Spot on! We all miss the Love stor we all fell in Love with! Thank you!
Indeed – they could be roommates this season – it doesn’t have to be a full on bath scene – but in the every day connection something is missing. Jamie & Claire’s connection (thanks to Diana) is what we all would love to have (I think). No matter what swirled around them before “they were each others home”…
Yes, Sandra you’ve reminded me of that iconic line ‘You are my home now’ which they both say to each other …. we miss that passion
Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES. Let’s hope the writers are seeing these articles and hearing the feedback.
Thanks for your vote of confidence Brandee …. I guess they must listen to some feedback … but a lot of it has been negative nit-picking about story line details …. so maybe they switch that off. I hope my post didn’t come across like that 🙂
I totally agree with your sentiments. I feel like the Me too movement and Times Up movement has ALOT to do with how they are now depicting sex on the show especially when the main character Claire/Caitriona Balfe is such a big supporter and spokesman for those causes. Maybe I’m wrong. I hope so. I’m hoping Sam and Caitriona do have more of a say as to how their characters ore depicted in the show. I hope they are listening to their fans.
Thanks for your comments Kim. I feel that #MeToo and #TimesUp sentiments would be all for the depiction of an egalitarian heterosexual relationship – and one from the female perspective. I’m also hopeful for Season 5 based on Sam Heughan’s recent comments.
Yes I agree that those movements would be more advocates for those scenes.
I think just the opposite- that the feminist perspective and Cait’s support of MeToo is responsible for the diminishment of sex scenes, the lack of nudity on the part of Caitriona, and thevdimineering attitude of Claire while Jamie has become the follower. No more egalitarian partnership of husband and wife.
I’m not so sure having them have a say is the helpful thing we think it might be anymore, to be honest. In fact, in some cases ::cough Cait cough:: I think it might be the issue or a hinderence.
I hope they listen to Sam because if anyone knows Jamie & the story of Outlander it is Sam. As you said I think Cait let’s to much of the feminist of today’s time & the me too into her into her character & it seems like they listen to her portrayal of Claire as shown. Nothing against Cait but when there is a time to separate her personal life from her Professional life as an Actress. These are Diana Gabaldon books she contracted to be Claire in so the Real Claire she needs to be
If anything, the sex in Outlander is exactly what the MeToo movement is saying – that sex MUST be consented by both parties. From the little nod of consent Claire gives Jamie on their wedding night, to the consent at The Reckoning and each and every other sex scene is always consented.
Well just to be redundant I shall say I concur with each of your points. S4 was just ‘meh’. I’ve not read the books so I just take it as it comes at me. I truly hope Sam and Cait get more control for next season. Your piece is beautifully written.
Thankyou Laura, yes, it will be interesting to see if they do have more say, and how that will play out.
We fully agree with you!!!!!!!!
This is my opinion on this excellent (different) series.
Outlander’s differential lies not only in the characters Cleire and Jamie, but also in the excellent story of Diana, or in the quality of all the actors, but especially in the chosen actors, Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heugham.
The quality of these actors and, in particular, the existing chemistry between them that gave and gives success to this series.
Every series, film, novel has, of course, a couple that is the basis of hostoria, however, the vast majority have no chemistry and when there are many they can not pass it on to those who are watching.
What does not happen with Caitriona and Sam!
For the series they see the feeling that the feeling, the friendship and the complicity between them, extrapolates the professional relationship itself (we know that it does not exist, they are just friends, as they themselves speak …… ) but in the imaginary of people there is and that is what matters, especially to all involved in this production (I imagine…)
Sophie and Richard are excellent actors, nobody doubts, but it does not have this chemistry, it does not have!
Therefore, in my vision, they should continue protagonists (always) and be present until the end of the series. Without them the story will fall, as happened in season 4, in a common series, as there are several.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments Alvaro
Totally agree with you. This season did lack a lot. The scenes between Jamie and Claire were either very, very good or lacked the spark that had been between the two of them. I understand not everything from the book can be in the show, but as we progress to the next book, Fiery Cross, it is longer and makes me wonder how much will be left out so the show can be seen in 13 episodes. Perhaps if Sam and Claire are involved in the writing, we will see what we want-the relationship between them as they grow older together.
Sadly seasons 5 and 6 are only 12 episodes each, not 13. We’re all so going to miss that extra hour! The books are longer and there’s so much more in them. I have no idea how The Powers That Be are going to make it work. SMH at their shortsightedness.
Thanks for your input Debby … time will tell I guess to see what influence Balfe and Heughan may have on the presentation of stories and character development.
These stories are based 200 years in the past. The show is projecting modern day values, Claire was a strong woman, but she wasn’t what we consider today a feminist. She was headstrong, willful, but also had a warmth and a wit about her, a kindness and a gentleness, with a steel core running through her. Jamie was a Highland warrior, a young man who loved his wife beyond anything and everything.
For me, the show cut the healing at the Abbey (with a pathetic excuse from Moore that creating a cavern was too expensive… then they created a cavern for the portal in Voyager). Forward thinking, forward planning are things the show runners are not good at.
Then Jamie suffered from PTSD for half a season, there was little love, little hope between them, and something had changed in Balfe’s demeanour towards Heughan. Personal lives having spilled into private ? Who knows, but speculations were rife throughout S1.
Season 3, Voyager, we had so much made up Boston story, because seemingly the producers wanted Balfe to have the same screen time as Heughan…so we got more made up scenes, and by the time Frank finally popped his clogs, Brianna supported her mother, and Claire appeared on the streets of Edinburgh. She returned to Jamie, and almost immediately on the showing of the photos of their daughter, the reason they’d parted, Jamie Top Trumps Claire with William, the braw, strong laddie. Then, we don’t get Jamie falling apart, we get a row, about a bikini, about how Frank and Claire brought Brianna up… and so it continued, with Claire standing on a cliff-top stating her case, that she had doubts and felt conflicted as to whether she should have returned. Those conflicts have never been resolved, and that love story stopped at the Stones when Claire went back to Frank.
There are odd moments when they do actually seem to like one another, but love … that’s long gone, missing in action, replaced by a cold, arrogant Claire, spouting her distaste for slavery, virtually spitting in the eye of the woman who has taken them in, but happy to accept clothes, bed and board from her, and to have her daughter staying there for over six months, replaced by a dim-witted Jamie, proud of his wife behaving like an arrogant nightmare of a woman, who still doesn’t listen to him, who still knows best, and nearly gets them all killed by the mob at River Run…. fast forward to Fraser’s Ridge, where she huffs and puffs feeding the animals, where she’s the White Peacemaker between the settlers and the Native Americans… give me strength, or rather give Jamie strength, because our Book Jamie wouldn’t let his wife be leading these dangerous situations. As for Young Ian, he spent more time hunting with the Indians than at Fraser’s Ridge, and who can blame him, he was gagging to join the Mohawk, if only to get away from the arrogant Auntie Claire who’s appeared.
The meeting between Jamie and Brianna – to the book (other than the kilt is still MiA), then they spoiled it with Claire in the next scene, shocked face, not a hint of pleasure at seeing the daughter she so happily abandoned.
The rape, the subsequent pregnancy, the change of Jamie calling his daughter a whore – when her book cousin speaks these words in Drums – and the race after Roger… the Bobby Ewing shower moment… and once again Warrior Queen Claire acting as peacemaker in the camp…
The Rise and Rise of Clairelander has turned so many people off this show. The show runners want to take a serious look at the comments on SM, regain the love story, cut down the feminism, and just give us the book personalities of these characters.
Until someone tells me, in Season 5 that this has happened, I will not watch Outlander again.
Thanks for commenting Toni, thats a powerful summary from a dedicated fan …. sad that you’ve totally dropped out of viewing though, I’m still in it for the long haul 🙂
I completely agree with your assessment, but I see Toni’s last reply very close to how myself and others have seen season four. I will say to Toni, that Ron is responsible for the additional “Frank” episodes we have been given in both season three and four. I won’t stop watching, but I don’t understand why the writers have chosen to change the characters “personalities” the way they have. It’s becoming a historical soap opera and has turned off many viewers. I won’t even go into the serious changes to the story that irritated me. (You hit them, wandering excess, etc) Diana has written a book about how to write a sex scene and maybe they should read it. I’ve taken a lot of heat from those that just want anything over quality and even considered giving it up and sticking to the books. The problem with that is I want to see it succeed and I like the actors when they do. I left two groups and will comment in the future only with like minded watchers and continue to encourage everyone to read the books if they haven’t already. Thank you for making many of us feel we aren’t alone.
As if you read my mind. Except for I will continue watching because actors do a tremendous job with what they are given in the form of script.
I believe that once the leads do get a chance to be more involved in the process of creating Outlander and actually have influence and impact on their characters and the story, the series will retain it’s S1 atmosphere that makes us all rewatch any episode with a bated breath no matter how many times we have seen it.
Wow! That was brutal but “spot on!” I guess we’d all love to know the root of these changes. But, I’m still watching …
I am an avid fan of OL. I have read all the books at least three times. I have watched Seasons 1-3 numerous times. I was apalled with America being played at the end of episode 1 of season 4. It was not appropriate!!!! I loved the rest of episode 1. The rest of the episodes…….not so much. Something has happened to change the essence of the show. Being American, I love my country deeply. From its founding, many mistakes and terrible things have occurred. I read every day and have a good understanding of my country’s history. Some things done are shameful. But the time spent on the episode about slavery was too detailed.
Outlander depicts one of the greatest love stories of all time. I want a love story…not a history lesson!!!!
Feminism and male toxicity was rampant in season 4.
It was sickening. The more episodes I watched, the sadder I became. I muddled through all of them once and haven’t watched them since.
One more thing. Jamie would never have allowed Bree to slap him. She was a pure brat. She did slap Ian in the book–not Jamie. I hated that scene. Claire did not show any sympathy for him. He was reduced to a henpecked husband.
I can’t stop watching. But so, so disappointed this season.
I agree with every point in this article. My question is why? Why have the writers taken away the biggest part of this revolutionary TV series. It seems almost on purpose. The more we want it, the less we get.
I also miss the narration of some of the episodes with both Jamie & Claire. The build up of so many things just gets swept under the rug without any narration from the characters. They should go back back back & as Jamie says.” PROBLEM SOLVED”
Thanks Michelle, Yes, I ask why also ?
I adgree wholeheartedly. I have been enjoying it less and less and have been wondering where Claire is. I have lost her voice in that story on telly. I can live with Murtagh being Duncan, just leave me Claire’s voice.
Thanks for your comments and your perspective Maxine.
I definitely agree with alot of what you have written here. Sam and Cait have mentioned many, many times they were in a bubble when season 1 was written and filmed. They just told a story and it showed. I think after it debuted, the show took on so many labels and expectations from the media, instead of telling the story, they tried to write the characters to fill those labels. I will say I do think some of the difference in the intimate scenes, have more to do with the actors than writers. I am not picking on Cait, but she has been very clear she has learned to say no and stand in her power. In promo this year she said she was naive and would not do the sex scenes the same if she had a do over. As women, we need to stand 100% behind her decisions for how she wants her body depicted and therefore it should be a collaboration between writers and actors to come up with a way to still portray the intimate relationship between J/C where everyone is comfortable but still honors who these characters are.
I completely agree with your comment about Caitriona. I think she wasn’t aware how many naked photos of her were going to be spread all over the internet. I also agree, it’s her body and she (not the fans) gets to decide how its shown!
I some how I agree with what you say. I value that she has the witts to say No to what she thinks is not right etc.. but she is an actress, a novice actress when she started OL but an actress nonetheless and she read the book begore signingso she knew what kind of relationshiop Claire and Jamie have. As for naked picts, she was a model and she has done a lot of runaway jobs where she is almost naked. I have heard her saying that nude scenes were not a problem bc she was used to being naked around 30 people during her modeling years. so i agree and value that she knows how to say no! but she is an actress, she gained her fame with a show were intimate passionate scenes were key and turned the show into the successful show it was. The show gained fame bc of that mostly so the show and cast owes a lot to S1 and the way the show was approached during that season. So if the lack of passion and lust and naked bodies is because of what the actors and they decide to say NO, I´ll be beyond dissapointed. It wouldnt be very professional.
somehow I doubt that this would be a factor, Keesh
I understand the positioning of you, however, I believe that they are following a script and even if they disagree are forced to follow, however, this should cause a certain disappointment to the actors and this may end up passing to the characters.
We also need to understand that it is very difficult to keep the momentum of the first seasons, especially the first, which I consider the best of all the series that have been transmitted up to the present moment.
Now, and hope that everything returns to what we consider normal and attractive.
She is portraying a person! Claire! Not herself! It’s what she signed up for! It has nothing to do with me too! She agreed now she is ruining a very much loved character! Shame on her!
I disagree. She isn’t ruining anything. We are all just speculating and no one knows for certain the reasons for the changes. The point of the article was if the show still earned those acculades given to them in season 1 for being revolutionary and ground breaking toward the sex scenes, female gaze, and point of view. While I agree there is a difference between J/C intimacy, what’s more concerning is the sex scene they did have this season (Roger/Bree) was gratuitous and definitely for a male viewers gaze. It offended me they used Sophie skeletons body in that scene the way they did and I am surprised that not one media outlet called them on it after getting so much praise for the opposite in season 1. So, are they still groundbreaking? Nope. They are just a regular drama, a good one, one we care about and love the characters, but just a drama.
I don’t think we have any right to assume that Caitriona Balfe would be making these kind of alterations to the flow of the show …. and if she is then that is her personal choice and not our business to criticise what another woman would choose to do or not do with her own body.
Are you really saying that a woman (yes, an actress but still, a woman) isn’t allowed to say No because she didn’t say no in the past and she signed a contract? This is a prime example of why the MeToo movement is so important.
I feel the same way. Thank you for putting my thoughts so eloquently so they can be shared.
Good points there Debby and yes, Balfe also said she had a responsibility to younger women actors coming up in the show for them not to feel pressured to ‘show’ as much or to be as explicit as she has been. Having said that though, she has frequently also said that she is comfortable in her body from her years of being a model and that she is happy to portray these scenes. And we have to guess that when she took the role, she must have known that the books depict a lot of sexual activity? Bottom line (pun not intended!), of course it is her choice what she does with her own body, and she can also change her mind about that anytime she wants. Thanks for your thoughtful perspective.
Spot on! Where is the lovestory we all fell in Love with?
Missing in action?!
I do not totally agree, because I think Diana Gabaldon also started to include other people as central characters in the book series. With regard to the sex, I would expect focus to shift somewhat from Jamie and Claire to include Fergus and Marsali and, particularly, Roger and Bree. But I do agree that the eroticism that is the safe haven for Jamie and Claire has been neglected and its importance overlooked in the latest season.
Unfortunately, I do not think that the writers will have much chance to improve on this state of affairs since from season 5 they are down to 12 episodes per season, and the books only get bigger and the list of important characters more diverse. Though some story lines can be simplified, Bree and Roger, Young Ian, Lord John Grey, William, Lizzie and the Beardsley twins are all so intertwined that I cannot hope any of their stories will be left out or slimmed down to be mere outlines.
Thanks Birgit, yes I agree with you about the pressure of the expanding story lines, but I also think it doesn’t take much time to convey a feeling. Thats essentially what was missing for me I think.
I absolutely agree with the article. Jamie and Claire have disappeared and been replaced with 2 robots. I do understand the problem of translating the story from book to screen, but what has been done now is very disappointing, very! Season 4 was almost unbearable to watch. The writers seem to have no idea where they are headed now. They have changed so much that it is no longer recognizable as the wonderful books Diana wrote, and is still writing. God only knows what she really thinks of the latest mish mash. The love between Jamie and Claire is the core of this story and without that it’s just another show. They have the two most perfect actors for their leads, and they are squandering their talents. This story was never about Frank in Boston, or the relationship between Bree and Roger. They are part of the story, but without Jamie and Claire there is no show. They are players on the side, as are all the other characters. There are some really good second tier characters in the books, so why the writers feel they need to add more to the cost of those already there, I can’t imagine. A bit of ego, I suggest. I have with the other seasons , watched and rewatched many times during the long droughtlander, but I can’t see myself doing that with season 4. I will still watch the rest, but please oh please, get back on track. You are losing viewers, and you should care about that. Let’s face it, you didn’t have to go out and get an audience, you already had one. Tens of thousands of book readers just waiting for someone to adapt their favourite books.
Thanks for your thoughtful perspective, Judy. Yes the story and the characters speak for themselves, would love to see Claire and Jamie reclaim the joy of each other 🙂
Oh my! What to say? I agree with your sentiments exactly! Although, I’ve found that if I voice my opinions or tell people to read the books for insight into character development and story lines, I am ridiculed for being a book fan as opposed to a screen fan. Don’t get me wrong, I love both. I understand the restrictions placed upon screenwriters when morphing a hefty novel into a screen production, but I feel we have lost the essence of Outlander to the imaginations of the screen writers’ ! While I enjoy watching the series as an alternative to reading the novels, I have found that it has become more and more mediocre as the seasons progress. They have dissected, rearranged and added in material that, for me, takes away from the original…Season 1 was exceptional, but I wonder if it was because we all wanted it to be, or if because it was a novel approach to portraying a headstrong, sexual woman in the lead role as the protagonist. I really wonder how Diana Gabaldon truly feels about the changes that have been made to her novels. It would be like someone taking one of Picasso’s paintings, painting over a part of it and saying that their newer version was much better than Picasso’s was and everyone would be thrilled with the changes…uhm, no!
Love your Picasso analogy, Carol … and your mention of the essence … yes, we’d like to reclaim the essence of the characters!
Yes! I agree with everything you said. I’m not sure about Caitriona agreeing, though. I hope she rethinks what she said in that interview.
I feel so much like a broken record. I’ve been saying this from the day I found out the writers were changing Murtagh’s storyline. I felt other stories would suffer. I just didn’t know how much. I should have foreseen it though in the second season. His increased prominence in their live, made our couple, Jamie & Claire into a trio. It was easier to draw out the PTSD story, because each one had Murtagh to rely on. Now it seems he’s become more popular with the writers and many fans than Jamie and Claire. So much so, they are willing to sacrifice much of our couple’s time to keep him.
Matt Roberts: “We kept Murtaugh alive to give Jamie & Claire someone to talk to. Fans had grown to love him, we loved him. It became a simple choice and Diana gave her thumbs up.” “Where problems come from now is Murtagh in a scene, takes away from other story that could be told. Also,you have to create every moment, so going forward is an original story”
Thanks for your comments Linda. Isn’t ‘broken record’ one of the assertiveness skills! I imagine that Caitriona Balfe might regret the ‘horny grannies’ comment at least 🙂
Interesting perspective on Murtagh … food for thought.
Thanks for eloquently expressing my thoughts about the past couple of seasons. I am sorry to say that I think the series has become ho hum…I don’t get that the script writers don’t utilize the source material better…why re-write things when it’s right there in front of them? Translate to film be damned….Diana painstakingly wove a story that so well depicts the characters, and passions and fears and growth….it’s a bloody shame to dilute it with unworthy re-writes.
Thanks for sharing your perspective Catherine 🙂
Very astute, well written article. Previously noted fan comments reference seeing less of Jamie & Claire. As well as character changes. Concluded this was due to story forward direction featuring more of Roger & Bree less of J & C. Hadn’t considered “Outlander TV show losing its beating heart and cutting edge” Most definitely hope Sam and Caitriona can influence the journey and story line for Outlander Season 5. Also be guardians of their characters, protecting them and reclaim their original authentic presence.
Thanks for your positive feedback Linda
Thank you! You said it perfectly. I love the books, actors and the show but the J&C spark has been missing for me this season. It’s hard to explain that the sexuality isn’t where it should be and there have so many negative comments that I don’t want to be a part of the negativity. I was particularly disappointed when the bath scene faded to black. I was hoping that at least we’d get one scene showing their intimacy and sexuality. The books constantly use their love scenes as the way they connect emotionally to each other, it’s not just an historical drama. Not sure how to get the writers, show runner and producers to listen.
Thanks for your comments Felice, I think we’re on the same page here, and I don’t want to be part of that negativity either. I hope my post is taken as positive and constructive, not negative and destructive.
There is a sacredness about Jamie and Claire’s love story. They owe it to Diana to preserve it to the best of their ability.
I love this. There is a sacredness to their love story.
Joyce …. yes 🙂
That is exactly the word!
Joyce S…..PERFECTLY stated! Bravo!!
Terrific piece, well annotated and as such reminded me why I didn’t feel the same disappointment with S4. As a book reader and binge watcher, I find I bring all the facial ticks, body moves and knowing glances, played to perfection IMO by Balfe ^ Heughan lead my imagination into it’s happy place – all the time. I’m okay with edits for time and fades to black because what has gone before is embedded in my senses. For me Outlander is about how this story makes me feel, fueled by all the talent that brings it to the screen. Perhaps because I was weaned on radio as a kid, my middle aged synapses are pretty well lit by this extraordinary series. ps. Full disclosure : I’m a member of Sam’s My Peak Challenge group..the endorphins produced by the workouts are undoubtedly another essential layer to my viewing pleasure of Outlander. It’s a tangled web we weave 😉
Ha! I rejoined MPC this year, too Mary … tùlach àrd !!!
Yes! Thank you for putting into words what I feel. I love the show, and understand with the size of Diana’s books, verbatim is not possible (sigh) to put on the screen–and they have a tremendous job telling this epic story; but, I do wish they would allow Sam and Cait to bring us more of the book J&C. I often feel that while people blame the writers, I also imagine that the suits have a lot to say. I feel that they want to show “a strong female”–which is great, Claire is one– but, they are not taking it from the book, but instead, IMO, letting PC and current social dialogue dictate and not the unique character created by the author that makes this story so unique and beloved. Given comments that I have read from a viewer who have called Roger a douche bag and one blogger to classify him as a misogynist (have they ever meet one??). It seems to me that they are afraid to have Jamie seem like a toxic male– I believe that Sam can deliver Jamie’s self-possessed masculinity and Cait can manage it deftly, without looking like a victim of domestic abuse. I too read where Sam said that he and Cait have gained more control over their characters, and that has given me hope we can see J&C flourish. Can you imagine how they would handle J&C’s sex scene from Jocasta’s wedding night? Starting with “This little piggie went to market” , then to molten Jamie at the bottom of the steps, and finally culminating in the barn?
Thanks Chris, you make some very good points there … and isn’t it a shame that people have taken to being abusive about the characters and the actors?!
On a lighter note, I really hope they show that scene you mentioned … our TVs will melt!
Wait … I’m not one of those ‘horny grannies am I’ 🙂 🙂
LOL! Neva! (at least not from MY POV!!)
OMG! Yes, the whole episode at Jocasta’s wedding! Jamie saying, “Watch while I take ye, damn you!”…..I die….and no, I’m not a “horny grannie”….hot is hot…no matter how old you are! Seriously, if they leave out that scene (or probably even that line) out of Season 5, I will cry…
Technical things first. The sex scenes you used are perfect examples of things that can’t be filmed. She can’t be filmed lying naked on the ground with her finger stroking her clitoris. And he can’t be filmed dragging his finger across his erect penis and onto her body. Some of Diana’s descriptions are too graphic to be filmed. The most graphic filming they did was in season one. But they did not show full frontal nudity (except Jack Randall—which is fodder for a whole other discussion.)
The wedding scene and the makeup sex were as graphic as television can get. So the writers can continue to include scenes like those, as they did in A. Malcom. Sam can climb on top in various degrees of undress and simulate sex. Cait can get on top and ride up and down. After awhile it’s just repetitive. I loved the bath scene this year because it was fresh and showed that they are still very much in tune and playful with each other. In future seasons, the writers will no doubt come up with additional intimate scenes for them.
I don’t agree with any of the comments saying that the quality of the show has diminished. If anything, the writing has become more brilliant as the seasons have progressed. The emotional maturity of Outlander is simply astounding when you compare it to most of the rest of the claptrap on TV.
I’ve read all the books more than once. They’re good. But I’m going to say something that I’ve never said aloud before. I thing the TV show is better.
Technicall, I believe that you’ve missed the point. First off, masterbation is portraited on TV tastefully all the time. And that wasn’t the point of that sex scene anyway…the point was to illustrate that after all these years, Claire and Jamie are still discovering eachother and can still surprise eachother. Instead of depicting that on screen, they chose to shoehorn in a sex scene to placate the book readers and then they had the audacity to cut and paste some iconic book dialog from a completely different-feeling scene into that sex scene where it came off so awkward it made me cringe. They cut and paste Diana’s dialog into scenes where it doesn’t belong all the time. Somtimes it works, but most times it doesn’t. I just feel they do that to placate book readers, and I think it’s insulting. If you’re going to change a story or a scene, don’t be lazy, and write your own goddamn iconic dialog.
But what about the bath scene? It was very sweet and showed the intimacy that they still enjoy.
That particular scene can’t work because she’s lying naked on a rock.
Luckily, although I’ve read the books more than once, my old brain doesn’t allow all of those exact words to rattle around in my head. So I never care which words pop up where.
For me, the bath scene, was the J&C essence beautifully done– fade to black and all. I am hoping that now that we have Roger and Bree in the fold, with Marsali and Fergus coming to the Ridge, that the writers will be able to have the time to bring more J&C book vibe in S.5 & 6. Although, with only 12 Eps. in. season, and we know how busy those Frasers ca be, yikes!
I agree that the show is better. I read the first book a short while ago and have started the second one. I definitely prefer the show.
Lauren & Suzanne I also prefer the TV show to the books . I really liked the 1st book but find the rest so long & parts are hard to follow as they’re so long winded. I actually liken it to two ministers giving a sermon. One is long winded giving lots of details & providing many life examples but you tend to forget what the main point is whereas another minister has good structure -so you are engaged throughout his sermon as he has the same main points but says it in a more succinct way. Thats how I find the Outlander tv series -it has the overall story , it just doesn’t include all the detail. It may be because Im a visa person that I prefer the series . I also made a decision to read the book after watching the season on tv. Im not happened by “they’ve changed the words around “. They are still Dianas words .Im a go with the flow person & I have really enjoyed all seasons for how different each one is & without knowing what is coming next I find it refreshing.
Well there have been sex scenes between them that don’t duplicate what’s come before. There’s “Turtle Soup,” that playful, joyous, sexy romp, and the erotic scene before the hurricane in “Eye of the Storm.” They are both in their 40s then.
There is also the most erotic, heart-breaking moment I’ve ever seen: The scene from “Surrender” in Season 3, when Claire is masterbating in bed with Frank, then looks over and sees Jamie (in the Laird’s room at Lallybroch) laying next to her (that moment made me tear up), then sees him naked, turning, looking at her, and then coming to her to make love). Claire has an orgasm, then sees Jamie next to her again, smiling.
Yes, and that masturbation scene was possible because she wasn’t naked on the riverbank.
I also loved the bath scene.
“I don’t agree with any of the comments saying that the quality of the show has diminished. If anything, the writing has become more brilliant as the seasons have progressed. The emotional maturity of Outlander is simply astounding when you compare it to most of the rest of the claptrap on TV.”
I would have to turn off any critical thinking to not notice how baffling and lazy some of the writers’ choices have became. Episode after the episode was basically one big “But WHY?” Just off the top of my head: why on the earth would Tryon trust Jamie with such a massive land grant since his presence and actions led to angry riots merely a couple of weeks after he had set his foot in North Carolina? After what happened in episode 4.02, he shouldn’t trust him with strawberry patch. Why would Brianna travel back in time to cross the ocean with one sandwich, frilly dress, zero money and no coherent plan and why on the earth would she confide in stranger 18th century woman that she has some supernatural knowledge of the future? Knowing what almost happened to her mother at the witch trial? Why would Elder Ian barely bat his eye on her and just drop her in the harbour like a sack of potatoes? How NO ONE in 18th century notices anything strange about 20th century Brianna and Roger? Why would Cherokee Indians declare “Water belongs to no one!” in one episode, only to want to kill Jamie&Willie over a fish in the next? Why would Mohawk woman suddenly decide to betray her own people and participate in their slaughter for a bunch of white folks she had just met hour before? Why would Claire shouting “Peace! It’s over!” stopped the angry Mohawks from killing all of them in the middle of bloody fight? Is it some sort of computer game? And really, Jamie thinks that Jenny would be cool with Ian living with Mohawk and never seeing his family again? Do these writers know these characters at all? Lord John says to Brianna that his life would be ruined if people discovered he is homosexual – 5 minutes ealier we see him having sex with a man in public area of a noble woman’s house. The list of stupidity could sadly go on.
Yes, there are certainly a lot of Whys? there Grace !!
Tryon chose Jamie precisely for that reason. He knew Jamie’s history when he first offered the land and he thought he could control him. After the incident he knew Jamie had balls, just the kind of man he needed representing him in the wilderness.
Brianna went underprepared because she’s a young brat raised in the 60’s and early 70’s. Which describes me at that time. Arrogant. No one could tell me anything. Impulsive.
Willie was tresspassing on their land; the water didn’t have anything to do with it.
It wasn’t exactly public. It was the butler’s pantry storeroom.
Here are a couple of examples of what I think is great screen writing:
The priest and his lover and baby. In just a few scenes we cared so much for them that we sobbed for them and for the brave who was left behind. Yes the actors were great, but actors have to have something to act and that starts on the page.
The story lines created for Murtaugh. They decided to keep him and I love the way they have woven him into the story. There’s real tension in his subplot.
I liked the part with Leery. It was a direct call back to Jamie’s description of his marriage in First Wife. I loved hearing her memories.
And the scenes between Frank and Bree before he died. That he knew that Claire went back—that knocked me out. And then when she saw him at the dock, brilliant.
Then heap on all of the key big scenes: reunion with Willie, reunion with Bree. Great stuff.
Episode after episode is packed with emotional depth that you just don’t normally get in TV shows.
Tryon decided to give Jamie the land because he wanted an experienced soldier/farmer to gather people around him, build a community and keep a PEACE – the latter was essential due to growing upheaval of Regulator’s action. The fact that Jamie was catholic mean that in the future Tryon could withdraw the land if he saw it fit. I’m sorry but having his aunt’s plantation almost burn to the ground only to retreat at the least moment with tearful “Maybe it would be better if we kill him” to Claire doesn’t equate balls. Jamie was supposed to be 45 years old man who went through hell and back and has seen everything, and that episode made him look like someone who has had spent the last 25 years sleeping in a cave, and certainly not someone who could keep a peace.
Brianna – Brianna was supposed to be 23 years old, not 16, when she traveled back in time and had been living on her own for three years prior to it. She was supposed to be smart and well organized, otherwise Claire would not have left her alone, Jamie or not. Laoghaire locking her in a room like 14 years old and the following rescue by 10 years old Joan was so comical but what’s worse is that this entire plotline led to nowhere – the subject of Brianna’s trials and convos with Laoghaire has been totally dropped after episode 7 and was never adressed again in any form.
I’m not saying that all the writing for season 4 was bad, there were some strong episodes/well written scenes, but the lack of consistency and completly different visions from many writers were glaring.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments Suzanne. Sure you’re right about the technicalities – although they did show Claire masturbating once while she was lying next to Frank and thinking of Jamie – and that was quite a powerful scene.
I love the show too, just missing the feeling between J and C mostly.
Happy viewing 🙂
Yes, under the covers not naked on the riverbank.
They could handle that if they thought the relationship was worth keeping. That is kind of like saying we couln’t Find a cave at the end of season 1. It is about choices. This season to have Maril say the most important scene of the finale was Murtagh and Jocasta just about did it for me. They have to chose to protect the heart and soul of the book’s which is Jamie and Claire. The acting is superb, sets and locations wonderful but they are losing the very fan base that got them off the ground the more they disregard the main reason we love the book’s. It is that relationship that has to be in the forefront and not a side story. It isn’t just the reduced screen time that leads to the reduced intensity of the love story. It is also ridiculous decisions about dialogue. Claire telling Jamie life wasn’t so bad without him. What??? Ruined that entire episode for me. Or telling him he would not always come first. What?? Whose brainchild was that?? Claire’s reaction to the mistake about Roger’s identity without a thought for the horrible words Brianna through at Jamie. Who writes this??? Well I know who and it is clearly someone with her own agenda. It did not come from the book’s and completely weakens the heart of the story.
Thank you!! I feel the same way. They have fallen into the same old trap that has plagued Hollywood from the get-go…choosing fireworks and fight scenes over good storytelling and character development and continuity. I realize that these books are jammed packed with possible story lines, but what separates a great adaptation from a mediocre one is which stories the writers choose to include and which they choose to change and ommit. I feel that the last two seasons the choices have been very disappointing. I’m glad you spoke up because ignoring or overlooking these concerns will not make the series any better.
Thanks Jewel Thief 🙂
Which ones would you have chosen?
I agree with your assessment to a point. I do think things have changed on the show and some I believe is due to the ever changing writers. I’m not sure why Ron changes writers each year but I feel we are losing some attachment with the books. Some I believe is because Caitriona isn’t as comfortable doing these scenes as she was in S1. She has made multiple comments about not showing sex scenes unless they have a purpose to the story. I also think that’s why she doesn’t strip for them. (Honestly, I doubt most 50+ couples get naked ever time) If you look at the excerpt you posted above it’s a very sexy scene when you read it but how do you film it without it looking like porn? Also note they are fully clothed in this scene which is another complaint I have read online. Also, if they are constantly having sex (like they do on the book) when do we have time for the story. They only have 13 (now 12) hours to tell the story which is not much) Some of the problem is TV writers want some kind of drama in each episode which doesn’t always leave a place for intimacy. I do think they need to find that balance again but I also believe the days of season 1 sex are gone. I too will always watch and I hope that all the negitivaly critical outspoken fans don’t make Sony and Starz cancel the series. For me its still the best show on TV flaws and all!!
I like your comment about striking a balance …. and yes, it is still my favourite TV show of all time 🙂
I loved the series up till now. It took one away to another time and place that hadn’t been seen or experienced before, and it was really exciting and interesting. Now, it’s like watching Daniel Boone. No offence, but I don’t like the cowboys and Indians, slave and master, hunting, hardship and savagery of the New World story lines. I don’t like the feeling I’m left with after watching and being reminded of that era. That’s not entertainment for me.
Thanks for your honesty. I’m there, too, and have been for a while. I scratch my head when people say older sex isn’t the same. That can be true, but this couple that was passionately and deeply connected were separated for two decades. They carry with them such a deep appreciation for their time together. I ache a little even writing that. I did a FB Live last week about how I wish I could tell the writers to consider one of their themes of the Season finale. They told us to “remember” several times. Jamie says it to Ian and Murtagh says it Jocasta. “Remember who you are.” “Remember where you came from.” “You can sit here enjoying all this or you can use your influence.” I know many of my friends, especially younger than me (I’m 50) who just stopped watching. It’s so hard.
Jenny, you make me think about how painful it is to not see as much of the intimacy between them. Exactly for the reasons you say: they love each other so much, have such a deep connection, that it survived two decades apart. As I read once, the two of them then were in a state worse than being widowed or divorced. They were forced apart and had no way to come back to one another. But still, during that time the love between them remained strong, transcending time and space.
I agree, when Jamie and Claire are together now, they know the extent to which each had suffered before and how it must feel for them (a miracle, really) to have found one another again. I would think the sexual desire/closeness would be even stronger between them.
I also agree about sexuality over 50. Especially for Jamie and Claire, who are both fit and soulmates to boot.
I hear you. Yes.
Thanks Jenny, yes, remember 🙂
All my thoughts exactly. Really hope that TPTB take heed of your totally constructive critique. I’m a bit worried that we might lose Outlander after season 6 since Chris Albrect just announced he’s leaving STARZ…and he was the one who fought for seasons 5 and 6. Enjoy your day and thanks for loving Outlander.
That exit seems to be about differences around Starz original programming, of which Outlander is. Maybe the series will be sold to Netflix or Amazon Prime and they will continue development. A girl can dream 🙂
Thanks for commenting Joyce 🙂
I agree wholeheartedly with this piece. Jamie and Claire’s (Sam and Cait’s) love-making scenes celebrate the soulmate nature of their relationship. That’s why I love those scenes. Not just any actors could show the depth of a relationship like that in a physical way. It feels incredibly genuine, which is such a gift.
I’m glad that Sam and Cait are seeking more involvement in their characters in Season 5 and beyond. I hope this means we’ll see more of the closeness and intimacy. They are the central couple, the compelling, driving force behind Outlander, not the other couples (especially Bree and Roger), who are all secondary characters. (I agree about Murtagh taking up time that could be spent with Claire and Jamie).
After watching Season 1 and 2 again, what I noticed is that Claire and Jamie are so often close physically (with the exception of Paris, when Jamie is suffering from PTSD. Though the lack of love-making and closeness here is sad because you know they both miss it).
In other episodes, their body language says they desire to be close, that it’s like breathing. Jamie put his arm around Claire as they walk away or Jamie leans into Claire and they share a kiss. After Prestonpans, Jamie walks into Claire’s surgery and immediately goes to give her a lingering kiss in front of a room full of dead and dying men. Their body language says they need to be close; even with just eye contact, the bond shows. Jamie is always aware of Claire, where she is, how she’s feeling. In Season 4, they seem to often forget the other is there (not always, there’s some beautiful exceptions.)
I’ve been very puzzled as to why the change in Season 4–their chemistry is so potent, why in the world would they put it to the side instead of front and center? I hope we see more of Jamie and Claire’s rare love celebrated in Season 5.
yes Lauren I would like to see those aspects of Jamie and Claire, front and centre again, too. You have reminded us of some lovely scenes that we saw in the past.
I agree and join you in your mourning for the lost soul of Outlander. I often read statements from happy fans suggesting that we should “be grateful” the saga will into S5. I don’t agree with this sentiment and am not content to just settle for scraps. While there have been some points of emotional/physical/spiritual connection between Jamie and Claire in S2- S4, more and more the franchise has become lackluster and not what I threw my heart in the ring for when I first embraced Outlander. They had me at the first “people disappear all the time.” But now I’m just sad. The chemistry was there, Diana’s books provided a strong compeling story (even if about TT), and there were some amazing S1 writers ( Anne and Ira, where did you go?). I too feel your loss and mourn my favorite couple descending into undistinguished mediocrity. With regret, I have returned to re-reading the books and don’t dread Droughtlander because I won’t be watching S5. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and heart. May we all heal.
Jan, I’m sorry that you are so sad about it, I threw my heart in the ring too, and it will stay there. I still want to watch, I still love the show, but with that sad edge. I hope for change.
As a book reader, my imagination can fill in scenes that the show can’t fit in. I’m not reading a lot of the reviews because I love the show and am not concerned about the amount of sex in each episode. Many times they are surrounded by more people. They also live in a one room cabin. The main reason I don’t read criticisms is that I find myself coming to the end of each episode, enjoying every minute. But when I realize there wasn’t much sex, especially between Jamie and Claire, I think, oh no, some of the viewers are not going be happy. So I’ve decided to love the books and the show together and not worry about how others feel. I am happy that Sam and Caitriona want more input as they should have since they are now five years into portraying their characters to near perfection. Thank you for your well thought out observations.
Thanks for reading ad commenting Susan
Excellent! You have masterfully put into words everything I have been feeling about season 4. I do not understand after such a good beginning to this adaptation what changed? Sam and Cait read the book right before the season they are to film it. They have not read the entire series. Cait said of this season that the love between J&C is now a more mature love, not so physical. Technically they have only been together at this point 4 or 5 years AND that is not how Diana wrote the love story. As you stated the physical part of their love was needed for their connection as a couple. I do not have to have explicit sex scenes, I just need the demonstrative love back. The magic of their story was gone this season. Such a waste as the chemistry and acting by Balfe and Heughan is something I have not quite seen before. I hope TPTB are listening!
yes, Sharon a return of the magic would be nice 🙂
I don’t understand why everyone assumes the love scenes and their lack of luster are everyone’s else’s fault but Sam and cait? Maybe they’re bored with each other and outlander? Watching past PR INTERVIEWS WITH SAM AND CAIT they were magnetic with each other. since cait got engaged and now married they’ve become more reserved and cool with each other. Cait is so busy telling everyone that she and Sam aren’t together in real life and that she’s engaged and married. I wonder if she realizes we don’t care about her personal life. We just want her to be the screen Claire. Every promo Today has her husband pictured somewhere. What the hell cait I think you’re wonderful but you need to stop whatever personal jag you’re on and start acting like a pro. You dint see other actors dragging their partners around everywhere and all media must say that you and Sam aren’t together. Oiy. What’s all this insecurity about? I’ve never seen Meryl Streep’s husband. So why do I have to see yours? Oiy!!
Well thought and written, I am in some agreement as Outlander portrays true intimacy and it did seem to get less time than before. I was pleased with so many things though, perhaps, as you hope that as Sam and Caitriona get more involved there may be more of the connection that keeps a couple together through difficult times??
Yes Elizabeth, it will be interesting to see what happens if they do have more influence over their characters … time will tell
I couldn’t agree more with your post. Readers and viewers adore these characters and while plot point and peripheral characters are essential to Outlander, the heart of Outlander is the love affair between Jamie and Claire. Some of the most enjoyable scenes from the books are their conversations in bed together, either before or after a beautiful sexual encounter; their fights which can be hilarious (think Philip Wylie in The Fiery Cross) and then that makeup sex. But ultimately it is the story of a marriage. Passionate fans live vicariously through their tribulations because this marriage survives and strengthens because of that. Yes, this is idealistic, but also informative. Diana Gabaldon teaches her readers how to fight and endure and thrive in a marriage based on equanimity and respect. Claire respects Jamie as a man. Jamie respects Claire not so much as a sexy woman (though she is that to him), but rather as his partner. He is not a whole man without her. He tells her so and tells others as well. He needs her advice, even her criticism, which will anger him until he thinks it through, and he does that for her as well. So this is the essence of Outlander and even Roger finds himself secretly observing Claire and Jamie to learn the business of how to be happily married.
I love everything you said Mary 🙂 🙂 thanks
Well said! Thank you.
Exactly. The love and devotion between Jamie and Claire has been so diminished, it’s like I don’t know this couple… I want them back.
maybe they will come back, Karen … fingers crossed
Thank you for this article. I have been trying to collect my own thoughts about Season 4 and the show overall and you have said exactly what I was thinking! Your praise, concern, and hope for season 5 perfectly mirror my own opinion. I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for writing this.
Thanks for your positive feedback Kay, I’m glad we’re on the same page 🙂
Thank you soo much for the excellent article and comments. Relieved to read I am not alone in my dissapointment. I have read all books several times, loved S1 and excellent casting in all the seizoens. As the series progressed it became increasingly hard to understand why deviations to the books were made. I found it almost impossible to watch S4. Unnecessary aditions (like the fight between Frank and Briana before Frank’s death, or the aleration to the Indians making them more hostile) were not made to simplify the storyline. The writers seem to think they know better than Gaboldon. It horrified me to hear writers say they made alterations because the book was not historically acurate and the character would not have done that. With all respect to the talented writers, or actors for that matter, they have not sold 26 million books. It is quite arrogant to asume that their aditions can result in the same intelligent layering and credibel (love)storyline as the books. I do wish the writers will find a way to capture the soul of Gabaldons books in S5 like they achieved in S1.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments Elise, we’ll look forward to Season 5
Very well put, you gave me some other ideas of why these last seasons did not get to me like the first. My theory has been that Ron Moore really understood the material and was so good at letting the quiet moments breathe- not the being dragged across 3 states moments, but the Jamie and Claire or even Claire and Frank moments. I am a book reader as well and have felt that the writers have been trying too hard. So much seemed forced and it was not the acting.
Thanks for your thoughts, Mary Beth
THIS. You put into words so well what I have been feeling. I tell people… not enough sex – can’t express in words so eloquently exactly what I feel and why so am feeling it. You nailed it! I will always love Jamie and Claire, but we have lost a core element to that couple and Outlander. If it doesn’t get corrected, the show won’t go beyond the next two seasons. Is it because we no longer have Ron at the helm and too many writers a part of the problem?
Must be a number of factors causing the changes I guess Ruth, we’ll see what happens moving forward.
I have to agree that this last season was lukewarm at best. I have so missed seeing the strong bond between J&C – and yes, sometimes that means sex. Don’t know why the writers have taken the route they have, but it’s feeling like the show is turning into story of a bunch of people in the 1700’s and not a timeless love story. I don’t expect it to be like the books – it can’t be – but I hope that the actors can find (are allowed to find?) the J&C we fell in love with in S1.
A few weeks ago I sat down and wrote a list of the reasons I love the Outlander books. Love, Sex, Forgiveness, Mutual Respect, Responsibility and so many life lessons. I’ll still watch, but I know I wouldn’t be inspired to write a list if I had just watched the show and not read the books.
I like your list, Des … yes it is definitely a rich tapestry, the story of Outlander
This is a good list, Des, and I would add acceptance, understanding, intelligence, humor. I love the books, but love the series too. There have been some beautiful, meaningful dialogue between characters, outstanding acting, excitement, worry, love, intrigue, and so much more. The scene with Jamie lying on the battlefield was awesome. I loved everything between Jamie and little and older Willie, LJG and Brianna and Claire, Jamie and LJG at Ardsmuire, and Jamie and Brianna, just to mention a few. The love scene between J and C in the brothel was great, on the ship when Jamie was shaving was too. Personally, I liked the bathtub scene just as it was in Season 4. Would I like a little more connection with looks, touches, etc between J and C? Yes. But I get that there are just so many ways sex between the same two people can be shown without getting too detailed and graphic. I guess I am one of the few that like the series just fine. I look forward to seeing every episode and miss it when it isn’t on.
Thank you for your well written article. I have been “missing” the heart and soul of the show.
Thanks Robin, glad you enjoyed it
Your comment “an egalitarian relationship where the joy, intensity, fun, playfulness and excitement of being a couple never stops for Claire and Jamie, despite the passing of years and all the dramas that develop and revolve around them.” sums up exactly what I love about the books and hope for in my own marriage. I hope they go back to showing that on TV.
Yes Shannah, lets hope 🙂
Their love scenes are scenes of love that we have all experienced. I would say that they resonate and bring back happy memories. I have found so much in the show that I have experienced, not just the sex scenes, as I’m sure many have. The magic is the pairing of Sam and Cait as Jamie and Claire. Hope they bring back writers from first series and make the episodes longer
Yes, Vicky, the lead actors are magic together ….
This article summarizes what lots and lots of fans have been saying for years and many times ´ve been bullied for or silenced for saying so. I agree with the blog´s point of view. The show has lost its soul, the characters their true identity and the fans a wonderful and powerful story at so many levels. OL is Jamie, is Claire, is Claire and Jamie, is family, is adventure, is friendship, is history, is sex (yes, sex lots and lots of hot sex!!!) is emotion, is sadness, is….. so far we got ….A doctor woman (yes, because she is a doctor if you havent noticed ) who I dont know why she doesnt go back to her time since she is pretty much annoyed, sad, dissapopinted most of the time and angry with the times she lives in; an ex-laird who doesnt know who he basically is and needs help to take action. so far this man has nothing: no wife, no nephew, no friend since he needs to runaway, no son, no daughter, no bbf, not a gentle aunt, not sex and basically he only gets a dirty shirt, an ugly hair cut, a bit of dry humping and lots of mud and evil looks. I dont know why he stays with the lot.
I applaude Outlander Cast for finally acknowledging and recognizing what is going on with the show + fans and not choosing to stay silent in order to praise and please the show no matter what. The not-so good- ratings and the dissappoitment have been a constant since S3 but I doubt the show and the cast (yes cast included) will ever recognize that. they keep saying that they know what the fans want and need…… well, we the so called “horny grannies” made the show successful so why not a bit of respect towards them? and stop calling the horny grannies when what the only thing the are asking for is what the show sold them and the return of their favorite laid and his lady? clearly the show runners, producers , writers , cast etc are blind and deaf. Thank you for the blog post!
As the books progress, isn’t Claire a granny who loves her man?
The horny grannies comment was kind of offensive. Long-time book readers were young when the series started. It’s the connection between Jamie and Claire, as well as the idea of a love so powerful that it transcends time, that keeps me coming back to the books for more… not someone traipsing around the highlands with a strained ankle ??
Thanks for your thoughts Keesh … you have a way with words … a dirty shirt, and ugly haircut etc 🙂 🙂
This is so spot on. Thank you for putting it into words. I was just listening to the audio version of Drums of Autumn and even the small bit of Jamie and Claire in bed after the Bee hunt and their conversation of Bree having to go back to her time and them talking of Faith, gave so much into their relationship. Why could the writers not have even found a little of that to put into S4 to bring that love to light. Not just the sex, the meeting of their two minds when talking is so good and not any of that material that is in the Books was used. Such a waste.
Yes Alice, the meeting of minds, pillow talk 🙂
A brilliant description of what was missing in this season! I haven’t re-watched a single episode of this season and probably won’t buy it on DVD either. It would just be another reminder of what was missing. Jamie and Claire’s relationship should always be central to the story with the other characters merely being woven into their world. Where have the loving glances, affectionate touching, steamy looks and even humorous interactions gone? This season’s sets were well done but set dressing and costumes does not make the show must-see-tv. The actress who plays Bree needs acting lessons. I like her as a person when seen doing interviews and she seems very intelligent and well spoken but her acting is just flat with a few well done scenes. So much room for improvement. Although I had hoped for Richard Rankin to join the show as Roger after seeing him on Crimson Field, I haven’t really enjoyed his portrayal either.
As for the previous comments regarding a sex life after the age of 50, well, think again youngsters. If you are in a truly loving, trusting, relationship with your spouse or partner, sex after 50, 60 and beyond can be great! Your spouse will love your no longer slender body, wrinkles, sagging and all, because he loves you. Your stretch marks, soft spots, etc are a life lived and loved. If you don’t think that love includes sex because you get older, you will be missing out! Anything less only shows how immature some people will remain, long after their shallow beauty fades
Middle Aged Claire .. appreciate your comments on life/sex after 50 🙂
Yes, I so agree with what you have said. I have been so disappointed in the direction the show has taken with my favorite books . Thank you for explaining it so well. It could have been an excellent, ground breaking show and they have made it just ordinary.
Glad you enjoyed it, Sally
I’ve been so reticent to criticize, because, like you, I love the books and the TV show, and hope the show continues right through to the end (I’ve no worries Diana will fulfill her promise to complete the story with 10 books). But … you are absolutely right in your critique. I don’t mind feeding the goats or passing the potatoes or even Brianna limping through the heather — they all serve their purpose in the story. But … The extraordinary, multi-dimensional chemistry of Jamie and Claire needs to be depicted. I thought I liked the fade-to-black this season, in the sense that it gave our fave couple privacy. But your comments make me see that it’s gutting a crucial aspect of Diana’s tale and its groundbreaking perspective that’s unapologetically female but inclusive of the male as well. Neither is diminished or lost, to paraphrase Jamie’s comment.
I will continue to watch the show (and watch), but you’re right, it’s let something slip away in the telling.
Thanks Laurie …. I like your description … the extraordinary, multi-dimensional chemistry of Jamie and Claire needs to be depicted. 🙂
I love all that you say here, and have had numerous conversations during Season 4 with a friend of mine about this same topic- WHERE are Jamie and Claire? Even when they’re on screen, they’re not really “on” screen. I miss the ground-breaking, earth-shattering attraction and love between them. I miss the small funny moments. I don’t think Claire laughed ONE time in Season 4? I hope they do take ownership of the characters. Because the show needs to cement itself firmly in their characters, and we can’t afford another season of wasted minutes of people traveling through forests when we could be watching anything CLOSE to what DG wrote in your quoted passage!
Thanks for your perspective Suzi, I do also miss the humour, the Jamie and Claire banter and laughs 🙂
As Jamie said, ” A thousand kisses and a thousand more!” I’m saying a thousand thank you’s! Your article gets to crux to of the problem in a really good time! I sincerely wish the powers that be (TPTB) would look at your comments and wake up! It’s too bad that they have embraced that horribly misguided perception of intimacy and aging as well as the antiquated idea that feminism relies upon subjugating the man.
So abiding by your request for civility I’m saying nothing more.
Thanks for your civil reply DJ 😉 …. I like your comments on intimacy and aging and your point about feminism and the subjugation of men … interesting point.
You said exactly what I have been feeling and why I have said that Ron Moore needs to return to his commitment to Terry to not ruin Terry’s best loved books-the Outlander series. thank you for your very frank and on point appraisal of what is happening to our believed series!
Thanks for reading Phyllis
I think passions of all sorts are missing in season four. Passion has been replaced by melodrama. Feelings of intimacy has been replaced by a feeling of looking through the window at what’s going on in someone else’s house. We have screaming, crying, yelling, violence, instead of earnest conversation and meeting of mind and heart.
I am encouraged by Cait and Sam’s wish to direct. Their comments, to me, indicate they have a bit of the concerns that the viewers have.
Thanks Shirley, interesting point about passion being replaced by melodrama … yes, it will be worth seeing how Sam and Caitriona may influence their characters for Season 5.
excellent…well said, most of us just miss this relationship and we want our warrior back..this should be posted everywhere! thank you!
I cannot agree with you more. “Cutting edge” was such an excellent description of early Outlander. Now I feel like it is a version of “Little House on the Prairie”, or Ridge….just kidding. But it is nothing like it used to be. Sam just recently said in an interview, that they cut a lovemaking scene….to include what? I watch, but not with nearly as much excitement to watch, because it has become too ordinary.
Yes, Judy that was pretty surprising when he said they cut out a lovemaking scene – maybe we’ll see that in deleted scenes? 😉
Thank you for the honest and spot-on commentary. My die-hard book club friends and even my mother are still grieving this disappointing season. We adore the books and show production in general. We miss Jamie and Claire’s relationship, connection and driving force through the scripts. It’s become boring, ye ken?
Thanks for your comments Tarah
Very well written commentary that perfectly captures my feelings from Season 1 to Season 4. My only disagreement is what the show has devolved into. Calling it just another historical drama is too kind. Season 4 was awful. The writing and acting was nowhere near the quality we’ve seen in the past. The CGI was amateurish and the wigs were so bad they were a distraction. Re-reading the reviews from Season 1 breaks my heart because the show was SO GOOD for all the reasons they gave. It was groundbreaking, intelligent and beautifully portrayed. But when Caitriona made the comment about horny grannies getting their jollies from the sex scenes it ruined all of that for me. Even if they could miraculously capture the essence of Jamie and Claire’s relationship in Season 5, I won’t be able to get past knowing how the lead actress thinks of her audience.
Thanks for your comments Eldridgelane …. I’m guessing that the ‘horny grannies’ comment was a throwaway line that she may wish she hadn’t said? Because usually and I think genuinely all the actors are so respectful, friendly and appreciative of fans.
Great piece and insight into the show! It has been my thought that after S1 one of the reasons Ron & Co wanted to put the brakes on the steamier sex scenes because was because of their notoriety. The sex scenes were bigger than the story of Jamie and Claire and Ron didn’t want the focus of the show to be the sex so they toned it down in S2.
Hmmm, thats an interesting point Mabel, could be an element in the mix?
Andree…THANK YOU for verbalizing exactly what I’ve been feeling.
As you so aptly put it, Jamie and Claire’s relationship is the molten core of this show. Without the beautiful, passionate intensity of these two…this show becomes just a decent historical drama. The bath scene in Season 4 could have easily turned into an amazing “Outlander” intensely sexy scene. But it didn’t…they faded to black as most shows do.
Jamie and Claire’s relationship is the best romance on television…hands down…the chemistry, respect, love, compassion, sex they have for and with each other is simply perfect and groundbreaking.
Not having read the books, I am delighted to learn that Diana continued this passion well into the books and well past their age in Season 4.
Admittedly, I am not a fan of Roger and Brianna…they just have no chemistry whatsoever.
But I am hoping and praying the writers, directors listen and make some pretty big changes for seasons 5 and 6.
Thanks again for your insightful words!!!!!
Thanks for your positive feedback Tina
I completely agree. I was just not that excited about season 4 and a lot of it had to do with the lack of hot, sensual sex scenes. Their love and passion for each other is the marrow of the show. Without that, it’s hollow.
yes Jessica … the marrow 🙂
Exactly my thoughts for Season 4. I was reluctant to comment on other discussions lest I be deemed “a dirty old woman”, but you have said exactly what I thought about the lack of warmth and physicality between Jamie and Claire, and the way that the new female writers have dragged Claire into the women’s movement, despite the two hundred years difference in her environment and theirs. Claire is emasculating Jamie at every turn, or rather these new women writers are. They have turned him into Dagwood Bumstead and her into Wonder Woman. That is not how the series began, that is not the story we all fell in love with, book or series. I wonder how much the fact that Catriona Balfe is now engaged has changed her attitude toward the sex scenes that brought the Frasers so close to each other and to their fans. Sam seems less enthusiastic than he used to be in the public appearances the cast makes before the season openings, and their relationship with each other has changed in their joint appearances. She was always smiling at him, touching him, putting her head on his shoulder, now she is often seated apart from him and her remarks can be snide. Fans still love them but we are not entitled to intrude on their personal lives, but we are entitled to comment on their relationship on screen and how it is translated from book to screen, and it has changed. Finally together after their 20 year forced separation, they should be free to love each other, physically and emotionally, but instead they seem more interested in their relationship with Lord John, Jocasta, Young Ian, Bree and Roger than with each other. I will continue to watch, but with less enthusiasm than in the past.
Thanks for your thoughtful response Judith …. you had me laughing out loud at Dagwood Bumstead and Wonder Woman 🙂 🙂 !!!
Excellent post! I’m a huge fan of the show (and books!). Your words expressed exactly how I have been feeling during season 4!
Thanks Patty, glad you enjoyed it 😉
I felt a loss of emotion in some episodes. The best examples to me when we had no connection to Bree meeting the Murrays when she was searching for her parents. That would have been all about love and connection. The other is the last episode with no birth scene between Bree and her parents. We missed the reconnection of Bree and Jamie and the forgiveness for each other. I keep watching to see my characters cone to life. I’m getting better at disappointing expectations..
Thanks Jaynr, yes lots of people miss iconic scenes and connections ….. and the associated emotions.
I completely agree with you!! I will continue to watch the show because I love the story and the actors, but I agree that the relationship beteeen Jamie & Claire has been portrayed very differently in S4, and not for the better. The wonderful source material was not used this season for the sex & intimacy scenes. And the few scenes we got cut to black way too soon. We book fans know how great it can be – as seen especially in S1, but also in S2-4, I also just feel sad that we’ve seemed to have lost this very important part of Outlander. Thank-you for writing this article!!
Thanks for your comments Judy, looks like we’re on the same page, here.
Bravo! Look at the high level of response here! This essay is so incredibly well-written and right on point. As a 64 year old woman who was widowed early, and a book reader, I looked forward to the continued sexual heat generated between these main characters as they aged. And this season absolutely felt like it had lost its mojo. Recently, I have become more aware that I have stopped recommending Outlander as a series that shows a lively, inventive, loving, and enduring sexual partnership. Yes, which is a big part of the draw! Thank you for writing this. In my opinion, it’s the best blog post ever on this site. Hope Maril, Matt, Toni, et al, are listening and reading.
Hi Joanne, I’m 65, so I’m right there with you, sister 🙂 🙂 !!!
I agree with this blog and am a happily married woman in my 30s who loves the books, storyline, actors but misses the J and C magic of earlier seasons. Give us what we all want!
Hear, hear Narelle, what we want 😉
Andree, thank you for your great article. You expressed what I’ve been feeling. I’m afraid the show is turning more and more into the usual drivel we get on other shows. This is a special story with a loving couple at the center. Instead, we’ve been getting fighting and oceans and the same old usual messed up story lines. If they cannot do justice to the longer books in one season then cover half the book. That might slow the train wreck down enough so we can get back to the original core of deep abiding love. I love the intimacy which does not always need nudity to show it. I hope we see more of the unique special care with the story and principle characters that seemed obvious in the first season.
Hi Anne …. I like your comment about taking ‘unique special care with the story’ …. thanks for joining in the discussion.
As many above have said, yes, exactly! Well put! I hope they listen!!
Thanks Piper 🙂
after reading your article i too agree. but like you , i also will still enjoy the tv show. Ive missed claires voice overs or even jamies. ive read the books over the years and again reading when outlander aired. when reading i still hear their voice overs about the stories
Thats interesting Christina, a lot of people in this discussion, on FaceBook groups and elsewhere, have mentioned the loss of voice overs. I must admit that I hadn’t noticed that myself. I also think I remember one of the producers, maybe Matt Roberts, saying once that they don’t like to overly rely on voice overs. But it looks like the audience do like it, I must take note when I rewatch S4, which I will, because I still love the show 🙂
Andree, thank you, thank you, thank you for your thoughtful and, from my perspective, spot-on review of season 4. I’m an Outlander book lover and show binger who has been consumed by this story like no other since Caitriona Balfe uttered the statement, “People disappear all the time …”
Season 4 was such a disappointment for me because the emotional pulse of the show was MIA. For some reason, the production team and writers seem unable to understand and identify with Jamie and Claire’s deep heart+soul connection. Rather than giving us more of the aspirational relationship that still draws millions to the books and show, S4 gave us hours of the more relatable (but boring and unconvincing) Bree + Roger relationship. Production replaced the big and small heartbeats many fans longed to see, with gratuitous conflict and irrelevant plot lines, which chiseled away at the soul of the show. Sadly, production is squandering the best on-screen chemistry on tv between Sam and Caitriona (WHY???) and turning what was once sheer magic into main stream viewing. I want my Jamie and Claire back!!!
And, sadly, it seems the actors as well lately. I don’t know that the chemistry is being squandered so much as I question whether it still even exists.
Love your comments Deb, yes the heart and soul, we’d like it back …..
“the emotional pulse of the show was MIA”…perfectly stated and really struck a chord with me!! Exactly – in a nutshell!
I totally agree! Thank you for saying this, I thought I was alone in thinking this way. Hopefully Season 5 will bring back the magic that was missing in Season 4.
Thanks Marian, fingers crossed for S5 ..
I couldn’t put into words why I was so disillusioned with season 4 but your commentary was spot on. I couldn’t wait for season 4 to begin and with each episode I was more and more disappointed. The show has lost its spark between characters. Some of the side plots were just too weird for me, like Jocasta and murtagh. I don’t feel the intimate connection between Jamie and Clair – too many long sad gazes and like you sad slopping the pig and feeding the farm animals. I’m hoping for a return of our beloved characters in season 5.
Thanks for your contribution to the discussion, Janet. Yes, more time kindling the spark and less time feeding the goats maybe 🙂 🙂
I love this. You describe exactly how I have been feeling abt the seasons and episodes. I was bored in this season sadly, as I have loved Outlander since I found it many years ago. I loved the screen Jamie and Claire in the first two seasons, now they seem less connected, less passionate and much less interesting. I am not one that compares book to show and I did not have a picture of what Jamie or Claire shud look like. It is all abt the feeling that I get from the words and the on screen portrayal. I felt equally invested in the show as in the books for the first two seasons, the second two not. I could go on and on abt what I loved and what I did not but really what I hope is that the show and the characters gets the excitement of the first two seasons back.
Thanks for sharing your perspective Glory, yes, we’ll look forward to see what Season 5 brings
I have felt for a while that due to the feminist slant of Claire’s character on screen that Jamie’s character diminished from the strong highlander to the circumspect, frightened to speak for fear of Claire’s wrath on the subject character that he has become which is far from the truth of his character in the books. This may be due to the lack of depiction of them together in the way that they are in the books, naked on hillsides, enjoying everything about each other in many and various ways, that although is alluded to in looks and tender touches, is not sufficient to realise that their root of being very much together physically is what drives them mentally, with each having equal shares of the reins of their relationship, not one more than another, yes they get it wrong but boy do they also get it right. Agree with writer but will not stop watching as there is so much good with the series, its just different, maybe its partly to do with getting ones kit off in the Scottish weather!
Ha! thanks Jane, yes, getting ones kit off in the Scottish weather would not be for the faint hearted! I’m with you on still loving the show but what you said about how Jamie and Claire are portrayed in the books resonates strongly with me.
I often wondered throughout S4 whether Cait and Sam had a falling out of some kind. They’ve lost the chemistry that was so apparent in S1 and S2. The whole premise of the story is that despite 200 years of history between them, when they are reunited Jamie and Claire are still drawn to each other. I don’t feel that anymore.
I agree something feels off there and that’s contributing to the issues with the Jamie/Claire depiction now.
Hi J, I don’t think its our business to speculate on the private lives or relationships of the actors, but I will say that I have seen Sam Heughan and Catriona Balfe together at a few film shoots in very impromptu circumstances – and they have been relaxed, happy, friendly and at-ease together. I think their on screen presence is about the writing, directing etc etc
I don’t think the actor’s personal lives come into these things because they aren’t playing themselves. Sam recently mentioned the importance of playing “playing the truth of the scene” – referring to Bree and Jamie’s meeting. There was a lot of pressure to get the scene right, but he and Sophie had to set that side and…find the truth of it. (Brilliantly IMO.)
Sometimes actors get great scenes and dialogue. Sometimes they manage to do brilliantly despite what they are given. Sometimes they can only do so much.
I agree that story choices, writing, directing, editing ask have a huge impact.
Regarding Sam and Cait’s ability to bring what we miss to screen. We see bits, and who knows who tells cut when? There have been some things that they ad-libbed that show they still understand and enjoy their characters. My favorite is the kids counting at the end of the bathtub scene. Not in the script – and fun.
I’ve been thinking about how the writing, editing, etc. contributes to what we saw in season 4 between Jamie and Claire. I’m re-watching season 4, and in the first episode Jamie and Claire have several scenes where they express very moving sentiments to one another. The dialogue feels real to Jamie and Claire and the love between them is there, but they feel subdued or somehow off to me, which I think is due partially to how and where the scenes are set and the overall pacing of the scenes that come before. It could also be that Jamie and Claire are sadder, more circumspect about life because of the robbery, now being penniless once again, and Claire’s near drowning.
But I agree, we don’t know what’s been cut or how the editor chose to construct a scene. Jamie and Claire’s interactions in “Common Ground” felt much more natural to me, for instance.
Ok, S4 wasn’t what I expected. But what made me saddest about it was how Claire and Jamies relationship with each other was depicted. I use the examples of Claire putting her “ two cents” into the negotiations with the Mohawks. Book Claire would have wanted to intercede , but would have recognized that in doing so she might offend the natives. Not so TV Claire. ( we might have heard her mental thoughts if the story narration were still being used.). And, that she seemed, to me, blissfully unaware that Jamie was as anguished about what he’d done to Roger as he was. So they have a short scene with J & C in the tent and a quick scene with Claire taking the lead on the “make up” sex. That whole scene could have been played out masterfully and truly have shown how connected they remained. Anyway, thats just the immediate reaction I had.
My other thought is that Sam is by far the more nuanced actor and his not getting nominations for his skill is so disappointing. Perhaps better balance in the show would help? Just an aside. Not giving up on the show, will love it to the end. But wish wish we didn’t even need these comments.
Thanks for your perspective Cheryl, you are another person mentioning the lack of narration/voice over … I’m going to be more aware of that next time I watch – which I will 😉
I’m glad that the voice over is gone. I felt it often detracted from scenes that viewers understood without an explanation. Also, the voice overs reminded me that Claire is likely alone and that Jamie has died and that’s why she’s telling the story. I’d prefer not to feel that’s the case. When the voice overs ended, it felt like Claire had finished retelling the story to whomever she was telling it to (Bree?), and that from here on out, the story and where it leads for Claire and Jamie is unknow.
I feel exactly the same way. Thank you for voicing it. Being new to Outlander, I binged Seasons 1-3 last fall right before Season 4 started. What stood out the most and made me fall in love with the series is the love story between Claire and Jamie. It was not so much the physical, that is just the fulfillment, but the adoration they both have for each other. In season 4, we were missing this tremendously. I realize new characters were added and other story plot lines told, but their love story was not central and the episodes felt empty and the connection felt forced and scripted. We have been meeting new characters all along, but they didn’t take over the show and we were always reunited with Claire and Jamie in some part of every episode. Even when there were sex scences in season 4, it felt like the writing had changed to just typical romance novel dialog. This was why it was so good previously. It was genuine and realistic between an actual couple. I have been married for almost 20 years and I can say the way that Jamie feels about Claire is exactly how my husband feels about me. I introduced the show to him because I loved the fact that the Jamie and Claire romance was realistic and not just dribble and what typical “chic flicks” create. It is sexy when a man truly loves, adores, and would sacrifice everything for his spouse. Knowing the amazing natural connection Sam and Cait have, it revealed the writing was not at the same quality as previous seasons. Much of the episodes felt shallow, lacking content, and seemed forced just to push the story along. The central emotional feeling was missing, other than a few minute scences. In earler seasons, episodes told much more of the story. I am going to binge it again hoping that when watching Season 4 with no weekly breaks it will feel like the previous seasons. Here’s hoping season 5 writers will return to the “good ole days” of Outlander.
thanks for sharing your thoughts Marlene … have to admit to being a tad envious of you ‘living the dream’ with your very own ‘Jamie’ 🙂 😉
I totally agree with everything you say and I really hope that for the next season we will feel again what made each chapter so special and expected
We’ll keep our fingers crossed. Ileana
I thought maybe it was just me seeing and feeling differently about the series,but glad to know it isn’t just me(but sadden,like the loss of a friend).Diana has remarked before about the consequences with actions of changing the story(example was Laegharie in season 2 apologizing for her actions). I feel there are becoming more and more deviations from the story line ,some mild and some more pronounced ,that what we have is an unfocused story. The love between Jamie and Claire is the story,and all else is second.Adding Murtah to the equation,( I thought that was ok.. why not?)has come back to bite us in the behind.His story is now interfering and diverting attention to a different focus.Matt R. saying he was kept to give Claire and Jamie someone to talk to defeats a purpose of having Jamie and Claire talking to each other.They clearly didn’t have much conversation for each other this season and it was felt.Even with out sex,how hard could it be to make sure that the 2 of them showed their affection and love for each other?Some kisses and hugs,a few gropes by both of them would given a sense of be bonded and connection they always feel in the books even when they are mad at each other.Jamie is the head of the house and together they make the home work.Book Claire never tries to take that role away from Jamie,it is after all a man’s world in his time and Claire is well aware of it.She came back to be with him,share his life,not take over his world.They have to be together,they don’t do well apart and Jamie has a fear for her safety because of her perceived strange ways by other people.This is not a Little House On The Prairie story,it is an adult story with harsher realities,writers need to return to the focus of the story .
Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Reva …. yes, it is an adult story thats a good point, something more than ‘Little House on the Prarie’ 😉
For me, this discussion goes beyond “groundbreaking” to simply “entertaining”. Not only is the show no longer groundbreaking, it is no longer even entertaining for me and I gave up halfway through season 4 even watching because I was bored. I occasionally still lurk online to see what the discussion is, hence my comments here, but for me the show has flown the coup. For others, they still have hope it might return to the glory days I guess? And this is coming from a former fan who spent a lot of money to meet other fans, travel to Scotland, attend cons, etc.
Sorry you have such a level of disappointment, Amanda. I’m one who hopes for the glory days! 🙂 🙂
Everything. You. Just. Said.
Well, we’re in solid agreement then Christina 🙂 thanks for reading
When the first series was aired I was so pleased because they seemed to interpreting the books beautifully without losing or diluting much loved interactions between Jamie and Claire but sorry to say as much as I love the books this didn’t continue and I have felt from the start of series 2 that the translation to screen did not convey Diana’s story telling to such an extent that I decided not to watch passed series two. I am sorry to hear that they are taking it even further and losing the very essence of the love story between Jamie and Claire. Unstandably it is difficult to include everything from the books but by cutting and pasting the story line and even inventing /adding things (as they have done since the beginning) that Diana never wrote has spoilt the intergrity of the books. I do hope for the sake of all the fans who wanted this love story brought to the screen that the producers decided to go back to the way it was.
Yes Jan, there’s always the books .. and the audio books (which I love)
I can only hope that when someone as devoted as Andree voices the concern/frustration/sadness many of us feel, maybe the powers that be will listen and change the path they are on….so many people work so hard to create this show…I think it is the writing and the acceptance of this writing by the producers that has gone amiss…
Thanks for the vote of confidence there Christina 😉
Or perhaps the writers are reflecting the views of the producers…the buck stops with them…
I have been very disappointed with season 4. I understand leaving things out or changing/shortening things because of time constraints. In season 4 though, a lot has been replaced with stuff the writers are just making up and I have felt that it has changed the Spirit of the story, or as you say, the Feel of it. It doesn’t feel right at all. I have actually lost interest in watching this season. It’s sad, because I love the books and was so looking forward to this series. Let’s hope they get back on track with next season.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Anna, I’m going to still feel hopeful for Season 5
One of the best things that ever happened to Jamie was being present at the birth of his grandson. So, the writers thought it was a good idea to eliminate this scene? Unforgivable decision. And, Jamie and Roger’s characters are so diminished and altered, I don’t see how they can be redeemed. Taking the feminist angle for this story is also a mistake. Claire has been portrayed as so rude and so self-righteous, I actually dislike her. The changes to the story and characters have been very disappointing and I don’t understand the need to corrupt the original material. Baffling, to say the least.
I sadly agree with you about how Claire is being portrayed, all of your description exactly. But it is not a feminist angle. It’s an a##backwards view of what it means to be a strong woman, but it’s the show creators’ view, not a feminist one.
Feminists don’t want anyone diminished and would hate to see a strong woman defined as being strident and rude. That is such an old school TV trope, it annoys me.
I watched part of S1 a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed seeing Cait play Claire warm and laughing. And Jamie sharing that with her.
You’re right, Diane. They have made a mistake portraying a strong woman. Is this their idea of feminism because it is wrong. I don’t recognize TV Claire. I don’t recognize Roger at all either. What a disservice to these wonderful book characters. And, then there is Jamie. His children mean everything to him and he adores that grandchild. Being present at the birth would be a pivotal, joyous occasion for him. Sadly, omitted.
Yes, it is baffling actually, and so many people seem to feel that way … thanks for contributing to the discussion, Theresa
Season 4 was good and I can’t say it wasn’t…But it has lost it’s soul…It is a love story between a man and woman…Somehow that has been forgotten and put aside…I don’t think it is too sensitive for the young to know that couples of that age have a love that goes deep and strong…and sex is included in that love…The two scenes of Claire getting on Jamies lap have been done better in some modern bar scenes…the lap dance…And that bath scene could have been incredible…The bath scene was good enough for prime time, but damn this is cable and it should have been mind blowing…I sometimes feel there is a sheer curtain between Sam and Cait…they say they are as good of friends as they always have been, but I have doubts…Their playing off of each other shows some stress…Sams scenes with everyone else are fabulous but he and Cait are not in Q as far as I am concerned…Too many cold looks go on between them…They need to get the “love” back on…They are actors, it is their job…Maybe they should spend some time with couples that have been married 25 years and are still crazy in love…
Thanks PS, you make some good points there … the sheer curtain ….. hmmmm ….. I like to think its the writing and directing that influences what we see, but yes the soul has somehow drifted away ….
Thank you, Andree, for the wonderful article that expresses my thoughts perfectly, as have many of the comments. Here is a little thank you; an additional line from the scene you quoted. Coming before a “a terrible noise,” it speaks to the joy in fullfilling a lover’s needs, and your point about how elemental that is in Jamie and Claire’s marriage.
“‘Do that again,’ he whispered in her ear. ‘Make that noise again for me.’
She made a better one, one he’d never heard before, and jerked under him, quivering and whimpering.”
And then you go on to complete the clip. It’s true, sex is never gratuitous – I was going to say, between these two, but really whenever it’s mutually enjoyed by consenting adults.
Thanks Diane, yes that was a beautiful scene, but too long for me to include the whole thing I thought …. thanks for sharing that 🙂
Thanks for this spot-on article.
I have rewatched season 1-3 several times – there were always episodes or storylines I didn’t like (usually when the writers strayed too much from the books), but I thoroughly enjoyed the show overall. This season has been different. Partly it’s because so much time was spent with Brianna and Roger, a couple I don’t care about, not even in the books. But partly it just felt off. There were some good episodes, like the one with the Mueller family and Birds & bees. But somehow the essence of the show has changed so much that I’m not really interested anymore. I used to wait eagerly for each episode and rewatched several times. Now I don’t have any desire to rewatch and in fact have not even watched the finale yet! My fascination with outlander has always been Claire & Jamie – and in the books that is always there, regardless of how many other characters and storylines appear. But on the show it seems they have been moved over to the side so much that their essence is hardly visible anymore. I especially miss their humor. They have always been funnier in the books than on the show, but this season it struck me as truly remarkable, how serious and even sappy their scenes were. No lighthearted banter, except for one or two instances in 13 episodes. It makes me sad. But also I guess it’s a healthy thing not to be so excited about a tv show anymore… 😉
Ha! yes a reduction in the obsession does sound like a healthy thing 🙂 I’m really with you re the humour, the books are full of funny banter and light-hearted interactions which lift the mood even in dire circumstances. I don’t know why it is all so serious as you say.
Jasmine, recently I’ve started to read the books and am almost finished with “The Fiery Cross.” Yes, I agree, the passages with Roger and Bree’s differing perspectives are boring and are a dead-end in the narrative. I skip over them to find Claire and Jamie’s story, which I’m glad to find is still central. I feel that the Outlander show reflects this lack of character or meaning for Bree and Roger. They don’t feel real in the books and they don’t feel real in the show either (also, no chemistry). I dislike the time with them on the show vs the time that should be spent with Claire and Jaime.
Perfect your comments!
Collaborating with your observations, follows another option I have about the series
Outlander’s differential lies not only in the characters Cleire and Jamie, or in the excellent (and different!) History of Diana, or in the quality of all the actors, but mainly in the chosen actors, Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heugham.
The quality of these actors and, in particular, the existing chemistry between them that gave and gives success to this series.
Every series, film, novel has, of course, a couple that is the basis of hostoria, however, the vast majority have no chemistry and when there are many they can not pass it on to those who are watching.
What does not happen with Caitriona and Sam!
For the series they see the feeling that the feeling, the friendship and the complicity between them, extrapolate the professional relationship itself (we know that this does not exist, they are just friends, as they themselves speak …) but not Imaginary people exist, and this is what matters, I believe in the only in my vision, but certainly, responsible for this (fantastic) series.
Sophie and Richard are excellent actors, nobody doubts, but it does not have this chemistry, but it does not have and this is not, of course, their fault!
Therefore, in my vision, they should continue protagonists (always!) And be present until the end of the series (the book is another thing, or rather, another story …).
If this happens, Cleire and Sam let, for a moment follow, to be protagonists, the series will fall into a common place, like the vast majority of the series.
Cleire Sam are like wines …. the older the better!
Alvaro, I agree with you completely. Just like fine wine!
Thanks Alvaro, yes like fine wine! 🙂
Thank you so much for this eloquent post.
I absolutely agree!
Season 4 to me really felt almost like a pale imitation of Outlander seasons past.
Not only was there a lack of passionate sex between Jamie and Claire, they were almost regulated to the background.
Where almost everything was seen through Claire’s eyes, in Season 4, In my opinion viewers
received way too much filler.
And the filler was boring!
Grace made some great “Why?” plot points, and the new writers seemed to lack that cohesive focus
where everything led back to Jamie and Claire’s love.
It wasn’t just sex: It was the fact that Outlander understood that this was a love story between two characters.
I sincerely hope that the writers remember that in Sananach the pilot episode, that Jamie’s ghost traveled
beyond the grave to sneak a glance (or possibly more?) at Claire in 1945.
That alone says something about them being soulmates!
I truly miss the original writers of the show: I have recently rewatched Season 1 and I can really see
the glaring differences.
I would love to see what Sam and Cait can do with their characters
Thanks Dawn, yes I found the ‘filler’ boring too … just waiting for something else to happen other than people walking through the countryside etc ….. it will be interesting to see if Sam and Caitriona will be able to breathe the life back into their on-screen relationship. Fingers crossed.
Wow Well put, I am a avid book reader, I love Outlander, the show is be amazing, but books in my opinion are always better. There is such much content and depth of the characters that can be missed in the show. I agree the season one capture that passion. J & C relationship grows and changes, but their passion is stronger than ever, we need to see those moments between them. It’s what makes them who they areas a couple and as individual’s. The can’t keep their hands off each other, and when they look at each other you feel that emotional bond. There is so much story left to tell and many more adventures, I can’t wait to see what Sam and Cait will do to with J & C. Great work to all, cast, crew, writers, producers etc. Love me some Outlander.
Thanks for joining the conversation Christie, I’m an avid reader too (well, mostly the audio books these days while I’m walking or driving) and I love me some Outlander too. 🙂
Although I love season four and all the new in exciting twists and turns that were added to the story plot in order to get us to the same destination, I definitely missed Claire and Jamie. I miss their intensity I missed their intimate time I just seem to miss them a lot this season. Thanks for this article.
Thanks for reading Dawn, yes they were ‘absent’ in many ways this season. I missed them, too.
There wasn’t much fun and laughter in series 4, and that is what is missing, especially in the sex scenes. The sex used to appear to be fun as well as hot. They appear to be just trying to make it look hot now.
Like I said somewhere else I’d like to be book Claire’s friend, as she is fun as well as smart. TV claire is a bit too serious, and needs to smile more.
A lot of people have mentioned that in this conversation, Leeann. Missing the fun and the humour which is really strong in the books and was there in the earlier series. Yes, no one seems to be really enjoying life in season 4. Thanks for your comments.
The essence that is Jamie and Clair is missing. I know the torch has to be passed to the next generstion. But lost was what made this couple what and who they are. Jamie seems weak whereas he was always strong like he lost his core values and has become soft. Claire seems tougher and not so soft. I want the intimacy and romance brought back
Yes, intimacy and romance … more of that. Thanks Michele
In season 1 they created a masterpiece. They literally struck gold in casting
Sam & Cait, with the hottest chemistry of any couple EVER seen on a screen.
But then they proceeded to ruin their masterpiece, by making a long list of very bad choices. In a nutshell, the INTENSITY of the show is now gone.
In season 2- almost no sex or Jamie/Claire connection- very bad decision.
In season 3, after an incredibly promising start (the first episodes of Jamies story were fabulous!) as soon as Claire returned, they turned her into a feminist “metoo” superhero – and turned Jamie into her emasculated sidekick. He never instigated any action, he only ever reacted to what Claire was doing. It was infuriating to watch.
Season 4- they turned an edgy, intense, groundbreaking show into BORING “Little House on the Prairie” where almost the entire show was overtaken by bland secondary characters who are nowhere near as compelling or gripping as Claire & Jamie.
The quality of the writing was DREADFUL, and the story choices were all wrong (the writer who wrote the horrible “Creme de Menthe” episode in Season 3, was actually re-hired and wrote 2 episodes in Season 4! Unbelievable.)
In fact, I would say they are using a LOT of mediocre FEMALE writers and directors. Too many.
Despite all the “female gaze” commentary in Season 1, it doesn’t mean that every episode should be written & directed by women. I would much rather have a talented/experienced male director than a mediocre female director. But what we have gotten is a feminist superhero narrative written & directed by a bunch of mediocre female writers & directors.
Separate to the poor writing choices, are a couple more major mistakes that are continuing to damage the show.
The casting of Sophie was a monumental error, and it’s ruining the show. From the moment she first appeared in season 2, every professional media critic said she was dreadful. At that point, before filming season 3, the show could easily have replaced her with a better actress- but unfortunately now we’re stuck with her. The Brianna & Roger romance is almost unwatchably awful with zero chemistry, and their sex scene was downright cringeworthy. So much for the female gaze.
Finally, I’d say the same about keeping Murtagh. I can’t BELIEVE, in a show that doesn’t have enough time to spend on Jamie & Claire, they actually wasted time in the season finale on a Murtagh sex scene!! Seriously? I was already fed up with Murtagh in Paris- he was constantly in the Jamie & Claire scenes and they had very little time together as a couple. I may be a minority of one, but I really don’t like the Murtagh story line, which they’re obviously going to ramp up in season 5.
Season 1 was the best show I’d ever seen in my life- by season 4 it has sadly deteriorated into something barely worth watching. I’m flabbergasted that “the powers that be” allowed such an extreme deterioration to happen- and basically ignored all the constructive criticism from fans and critics that has been building over the past 3 years.
I agree with mostly all your points Ivy. And I don’t think it absolutely has to be female writers or directors to achieve the ‘female gaze’ – thats just about the audience perceiving a woman’s agency/point of view I think. And I can’t comment on writers or directors because I don’t really know much about this.
I certainly feel the same as you that series one was the best TV show I had ever seen in my life and that it has deteriorated in many ways since then, which I am sad about because I love the whole story of Outlander so much.
Thanks for your thought-provoking contribution to the discussion.
I agree with much of what you say here, Ivy. “Wilmington” was unwatchable for me (with the exception of Jamie and Claire’s scenes) because of the awful sex scene with Roger and Bree. They have zero chemistry and I dislike that the show seems to want to compare them to Claire and Jamie, which is like comparing a damp match which flickers out in seconds with a blazing eternal bonfire. It’s Claire and Jamie’s relationship I want to see. They need to be central, as always.
You have hit on everything I am feeling about Sesdon four. I say Bring the Sex Back! Please!?
Well Marilyn, we’ll have to keep our fingers crossed for season 5 🙂 🙂
Interesting comments. I had been under a rock and did not discover Outlander until this past summer. I have not read the books but have watched all the seasons, the first 3 many times. I have just started reading The Fiery Cross; so, I feel I cannot make good comparisons, books versus TV. But I did buy the first book just to read The Wedding and find I enjoy the TV version more. I discovered Sam in “A Princess For Christmas” and was impressed with him and so happy to hear he had a major role in Outlander and that it and he were so good. I did not start watching it then, as I had not had Starz until this season 4. I watch Outlander for the writing, story etc. and for Sam. I feel there would be no Outlander without Sam. Sam has proven what an awesome human being he is with his charity focus, etc. I’ve seen him in most of the interviews he has done and he is the real thing, a beautiful person. He is a caring actor for Cait, I’ve noticed he always pulls her hair back so you can see her face while they are acting. I’m not a big Cait fan. She’s a great actress, no question, but I think it has gone to her head, based on some interviews I have seen her in. I have also seen her “put down” Sam in some interviews. I don’t think she has liked it that Sam has gotten so much attention from the fans. I read where she complained she did not feel there was enough Claire in one of the seasons, so they added more for her. I wonder if the “granny” comment came out of jealousy of Sam’s attention from the fans. I think when they first met there was some chemistry there, but I wonder if she has ruined it. She has also gotten engaged since Outlander started and I’m wondering if that has influence. I have the impression that she is trying to hurt Sam on purpose, maybe because of the attention he receives. The “Me Too” movement has probably had some influence also. I’m an American, so seeing Outlander filmed in Scotland and learning so much about Scotland, added to the success of season one for me. I was concerned being American if season 4 and 5 would not be as enjoyable since I know American history. I hope people in other countries enjoy learning the American history, as I did the Scottish history. I understood Diana had the last say in the writing for TV, but maybe not. I will continue to watch Outlander as I’m such a Sam fan and I hope they can make the American history enjoyable for us to watch. I hope to eventually read all the books. It will be interesting to see what they do with season 5. I hope they can satisfy their viewers.
Thanks for your contribution Estelle, I don’t think it’s my place to make any comments on the personal lives or off-screen relationships of the actors. I’m with you on really loving the history aspect of the books/show and I really enjoy seeing those elements of the story come to life on screen. I’m Australian so I knew not much about Scottish or American history, so its all very fascinating.
I think its Cait’s Irish humour coming across in interviews -saying things against Sam[ I see it as tongue in cheek comments due to their strong friendship] Sam does the same to Cait back -thats his Scottish humour. Im an Aussie with Scottish heritage -so I get their humour. I don’t get the Cait thinks she’s better than Sam at all . On twitter they are both supportive of anything they do .
Ive actually ben fortunate enough to travel to Scotland [ & Ireland] ,France & the US -so Ive seen the places referred to in Dianas books -which really interests me.
As far as season 5 goes for me i ma very satisfied so far & look forward to it with anticipation .
I enjoyed and appreciated your article. I do remember a part in one of the books where Roger finds himself often staring at Jamie and Claire. He longs to know what it is that makes their relationship work. He’s worried that Jamie notices him doing this. At one point he wanders into the barn, and he can smell that they just had sex. It was a powerful scene.
YES! you are right, LLW …. Roger does do that on more than one occasion I think …. he wants to understand how to make a marriage work and Jamie and Claire are his role models …. and that scene in the barn ….. pass me a fan!!
Yes, the show has gone downhill fast. I think Claire had more lines in the first episode of Season 1 than she had in the entirety of Season 4. Where are Claire and Jamie? This season barely resembles the book. Disjointed, lacking, boring…
Yes, Anna, where are they?
Yikes. I don’t belong here.
I agree with this article wholeheartedly! I came late to the series and only read the first book, so I didn’t actually know that the passion between J&C didn’t just fizzle out over the years to allow for other characters’ relationships… It was Jamie and Claire’s chemistry that got me hooked into the series and I find myself going back to Season 1 very often to remind myself of how it used to be between them. The make-up scene in Season 4, in the woods, whilst looking dor Roger felt so staged and rushed compared to the great make-up scene in castle Leoch, after the reckoning that it is hard to believe you are watching the same series… Roger and Brianna’s chemistry is non existent, unfortunately, their scenes together don’t inspire me in any way; Jamie and Claire remain the main reason I watch the series, and to a lesser extent, Murtagh, that lovely man! I truly hope they are able to bring back the backbone of the series and get it on track again!
Thanks for your comments Ana, I agree that Jamie and Claire are the backbone of the series, And yes, if you haven’t read the books, Jamie and Claire’s relationship is very strong always.
I agree with most of what you have said. My own view is, that the relationship seemed to change, when Caitriona got engaged. Maybe her Beau didn’t like her body shown so much, maybe she decided it. BUT the change happened. I don’t believe the age excuse too much. They had /have a very passionate relationship, which Diana has written for us. How do the TV writers think they can make other decisions about what happens? We watch because we LOVED the story in the books. Yes I know everything can’t be added, but important scenes, which we all seem to agree on so we can’t all be wrong, should NOT be changed or taken out. You lose the integrity of who and what J&C are, and therefore the whole story.
Yes, Tricia, your point about losing the integrity Jamie and Claires relationship which then affects the whole story, is a good one.
Of course, I agree with pretty much everything that has been stated about the demise of J/C in Season 4. I also think it was almost inevitable. I can argue with the producers about the storylines but I think not about the J/C relationship. Sam and Cait were so playful and charming with each other in the early interviews and we were all captivated. The joy and delight in each other resulted in their stunning chemistry as J/C. Over the years their personal relationship appears to have drastically changed, mostly due, I think, to the abundance of shippers who made their lives a misery. Now Cait is engaged. I know she is a professional and a supremely talented actress but somehow she seems a little less invested as Claire. When she does gaze into Jamie’s eyes, it sometimes feels insincere. Sam’s Jamie, however, is still mostly in tact when he is given great scenes to work with.
While I have been disappointed in series since Season 1. I will never stop watching. It is still exceptional television and I am grateful to be able to watch it.
Thanks for your comments Carola, not wanting to go into the personal lives area too much I think you make a good point that all the ‘shipper’ (people who believe that an on-screen relation’ship’ between two actors translates to their off-screen relationship) dramas would take a toll on them personally. But I don’t see evidence that this has affected their professional lives …. like you I’m in it for the long haul and will never stop watching.
Andree Poppleton such an honest and wonderful article! Your description of intense physical intimacy as a defining characteristic of Jamie and Claire’s relationship is one that the production seems not to hear. Instead, they refer to fans just “wanting to see more sex,” which of course was once lovely in itself, but they bypass the reasons folks give for why it is so crucial to the telling of this story.
I joined the clan in the beginning of Season 2 to find out What Happened!? I’m very curious about how things work so I wasn’t just missing the passion, attraction, sexual tension, depth of connection, and the care our heroes took to assure mutual pleasure, I wanted to know who had made the decision to make such a radical change in how Claire and Jamie’s intimacy was depicted – and why. Especially after the amount of positive press they got, as you say, for how it was handled in S1. I’m fascinated by what happens in TV land that leads to such choices, what powers influence them? I’m still not sure.
Doing publicity for that first season, Ron Moore had gone to great lengths to echo Diana Gabaldon’s description of her story as one of a marriage in which love and passion endure through a lifetime of adventure and challenge – like all successful marriages (and I expect she would include whatever intimate contact bodies are capable as they reach advanced old age. Claire mentions 100 ?.) While most shows end when the romantic leads get together, her story begins there and Ron seemed very excited about bringing that, seemingly radical, perspective to television.
Suddenly, in advance of the second season, everyone involved in the show from its runner to producers, costume designer (Terry was traveling with the French costume exhibition so interviewed frequently), to both lead actors, went in a different direction. They all repeated similar versions of a soundbite to questions about whether Season 2 would continue the treatment of sex that began in the show’s freshman year. The response was that things would be different, first out of respect for Jamie’s trauma but also because this was no longer a honeymoon but a real marriage, real life, mature relationship, etc. Hmmm, I said to myself, they’ve only been married six – admittedly busy – months, and its frightening that this group has such a sad view of a “real marriage.” You may laugh, but I was truly saddened by what kind of relationships our creative team may have experienced.
But, I have been around public relations long enough to know that an opinion expressed by so many in such similar words may not be literal representations of their own perspectives. Actors are given notes for press junkets, the best ones similar enough to those given for their character’s motivations during production. I support this interview aid completely. For most actors, having some key points they are asked to make, often during dozens of 3, 5, 10 minute chats as interviewers are ushered in and out of a room in which they are set up, frees them to be creative, fun or serious, in the time left. Sam and Cait are wonderful, generous, as genuine as can be during these but, from what we know about the show’s post production schedule, they may be doing press before the episodes under discussion have been edited and not yet know what will be included. Notes give them something to work with when asked the inevitable. Season 2 publicity set the tone for the length of time Jamie and Claire would spend torn apart, finding each other, and having a more sedate sex life once they did.
Forewarned, I hated it. The contrived distance, even at home, the excuse of honoring Jamie’s PTSD and then having him GIGGLE and cured the moment he hears BJR was alive. Well, that was quick and trite. Finding each other introduced that fade to black, Andree mentioned, and with the exception of Jamie in the the whore house after the S3 reunion, I don’t think anyone on the show has had an orgasm in 20 odd years. Viewing the situation through a woman’s gaze – no wonder Claire seems cranky on occasion.
Even after relations resumed, I have wished for more intimacy in between. Skipping to this season, we have had a few lovely romantic moments, but barely a kiss betwixt. I was thrilled with the fleeting flirtatious fun when Jamie had Claire up against a tree while homesteading began. Why not more, Sam and Cait are so good at it? Otherwise, our couple skews to stiff. I’m 63, married 35 years, and understand that the lovely scene you included in your article was of a couple completely at ease and open to each other, a perk that comes with long intimacy. I also love to kiss, flirt, and my husband I find it hilarious that we are able to make innuendo out of anything – something that was also part of book Jamie and Claire fun and connection. It was an endearing theme in the book that Jamie was often applauded for kissing Claire “thoroughly” in public.
Remember when this couple almost set the screen on fire holding hands during a picnic? I’m sure that would pass the most stringent censors once the show sets it sights on some of the more lucrative syndication markets. Not caused by an eye on other markets? Some say that the gaze will now be focused on Bree and Roger or that the two couples will be equal. No. It is Jamie and Claire’s love that brings every other through character into the story and frequently sustains them. Pretty powerful, aye?
Thanks Diane 😉 ….. what you said ….. I love all of it … thankyou for adding this thoughtful perspective the conversation.
Oh, that picnic scene. It still sets the screen on fire!
Someone else here said it, but I’ll add that I’ve never seen such incredible chemistry between two actors. It’s felt even when they first meet in the cottage in the first episode and Claire holds Jamie’s hand after she repairs his shoulder. And the nod to one another in trust, though they have just met. That said soulmate and destiny, powerfully.
Yes. Lauren the first season was incredibly compelling from the minute they set eyes on each other …. and I hadn’t read the book yet so I had no expectations ….. I was mesmerised 🙂
I am so saddened when I hear people say that those of us who are “complaining” over what’s happened to the show “need to suck it up buttercup” and realize that the show and the book are different things…(this was a Twitter comment)… Our upset comes from our deep love not only for the books, but the show as well…we’re not just “book people”….we have truly loved this show and have seen what it is capable of…My biggest heartbreak of Season 4 was over Jamie when they left the impression that if not for Claire’s refusal to own slaves, they would have stayed at River Run and taken over Jacosta’s plantation….Jamie would NEVER have done that…he said he knew what it was to be bound in shackles and live as a slave and he would never take over River Run…the show changed the ESSENCE of who Jamie is as a man and that is what upsets us so much! I adore Sam Heughan and he brings Jamie to life better than I imagined was possible…when the writers/producers do things like this to his character my heart breaks…he deserves better…and so do we…
Thanks for your comments Christina, I feel that there is a difference between ‘complaints’ and ‘constructive criticism’ . It is so sad an unfortunate, that Matt Roberts for instance, felt that he needed to close down his twitter account … I guess he was worn down by complaints … and I did see some totally unnecessary anger and vitriol directed at these very good people who make the show for us. I would like things to be different and I agree with what you have said about Jamie and the plantation issue 🙁 . I’m hopeful that they may have listened to some of the more measured feedback about how people feel about the show.
Although I like season 4 very much, I have to agree with you. And while I was reading your review, I thought that all this had happened because They had got all those young writers. I am not telling that they don’t understand the books but as you put it correctly they miss the point.
Thanks for your comments, Slavka
Yes, I was disappointed that Claire did not do the self pleasuring scene….yes keep breaking the norms…the book does and the show should t00!
Yes, Christina, from memory that was a powerful scene in many ways, the connection between them, the fun in Jamie discovering something new about Claire and it was a real release for them after the uneasiness they had about setting Bonnet free. And I have to say that I found their reasons for not doing it a bit thin … didn’t have a big rock or water? 😉 I’m sure Gary Steele and his fabulous team could’ve improvised! 🙂 🙂
Absolutely brilliant analysis – agree entirely. Outlander was a revelation to me – I had never, ever, seen love and sex portrayed as it was: egalitarian, joyful, shame-free, power-balanced, giving. That could not have been so exquisitely delivered by just anyone – Balfe and Heughan are brilliant, and to the casting folk who saw the chemistry – bless you.
I have encouraged me teen daughter to watch it. I only wish I’d seen love and sex thus portrayed when I was 15.
I am also not going to quibble with deviations from the books, though of course there are threads I would have wished to see picked up in the adaptation
Case in point: The Wedding – TV version- is wildly different from the book, but is absolutely genius – that’s what good adaptation does. Delivers every feeling and stays true to the characters, regardless of how close it is to the book. In my opinion that episode is better than the book, and that it was written and I believe directed by women is not an accident.
PS – people say “horny granny” like there is something wrong with that 😉
You made a really good point there, Shelley. I remember reading once, somewhere? someone said they would love their teenage sons and daughters to watch this. To learn that sexual encounters are about consent and mutual enjoyment …. they pointed out that in the wedding scene they are always checking in with each other … do you want me to stop? … did you like it etc … I agree with you I wish I had’ve seen a relationship like that when I was in my teen years 😉 And I’m with you on the wedding adaptation, too, although as I mentioned above when I first saw season 1 I had not read the books, so I wasn’t in any position to compare. When I read the book later, I definitely liked the TV version better 🙂
Beautifully said! It.is exactly how I’ve been feeling. I will always remain a rabid fan of Outlander, and probably used it as a measuring tool for other tv shows. However, that doesn’t stop me from wishing it would stay true to that unique, life changing, missed heart beats kind of love that turned us all upside down and inside out.
I’m with you Monica …. rabid fan! Thanks for your comments.
Thank you for this well written article. I, too, have felt the essence of who Jamie & Claire are as individuals & as a couple, has been lost/forgotten/overlooked, since the end of the outstanding Season One, of Outlander. Is it because of the addition of new writer’s to the production, the producers, themselves, or the directors discretion, or a combination of all three? I find it sad, that for whatever reason & whoever’s decision it was, to not “hold on” to those critical pieces of who those two beloved characters are, in the series, was a huge error.
I hope there is some way, that the writer’s, producers & directors of the series will actually read your article & make amends.
Thanks for your vote of confidence in my post, Gayle. You make a good point that it is the essence of Jamie and Claire as individuals as well as them as a couple, that has been compromised. Sadly 🙁
I still think it is compelling television, but I really wish they’d go back to doing 16 episodes per season. They just don’t have the time to balance out the plot and the relationships. There are so many great characters both past and present that we as viewers are introduced to. Dougal, Colum, Geilis, Fergus and Lord John Grey are all so compelling in their own right. and I love seeing their stories expanding the entire life experience. Think about it. Jamie and Claire were in their 20’s when they met. It’s only the end of Season Four, and they already have two grandchildren from Marsali and Brianna. Both Jamie and Claire have been married to other people. And the story still has many characters to go. Just think of the children alone who’ve been had that aren’t really characters yet. Fergus’ son Germain, Brianna’s un-named son. What about the baby Mary Hawkins from Season Two was going to have? We could meet that man. He’s over twenty by now. What about Geilis’s son? He’d be in his twenties by now too. And what about Jamie & John’s son William? I’d like to see him grow up into a young man. And can you imagine how much therapy he would need when he finds out that he has a living biological father, but that his other father is gay? I guarantee that he doesn’t know that. And this being “Outlander,” I guarantee you that the secrets won’t stay secrets forever. Just the concept of staying in a primitive and dangerous time for the sake of love is amazing. Claire stayed for Jamie. Brianna stayed because of the baby and because Roger was stuck in the past, until further notice. And Roger decided to stay for Brianna and the baby. I really hope that we get the rest of the saga. I know for a fact, that the seventh and eighth books are amazing.
Thanks for your perspective Ned. Yes its a compelling saga alright. Pity the budget apparently does not allow for more episodes, and I’m sure the actors need some time off 😉 I LOVE your image of William needing therapy when he finds out the truth about his biological father and his step-father 🙂 🙂 🙂
For me, it wasn’t just about a woman enjoying sex, and the freedom of that, it was about enjoying sex within the commitment of marriage. So many times people assume that sex gets boring after 30+ years of marriage. Outlander gave me a new perspective on being excited about sex with my husband! It renewed my marriage and made me happy to have a healthy sex kids with my husband. They’ve lost that completely. And I’m sad.
Wow, Holly, thanks for sharing on such a personal level. I’ve heard others say the same …. half your luck I say …. and we would love a bit more of that 😉
Thank you for posting this. I have read so many posts from people who tell us to just suck it up and be glad there is a series. I would rather there not be a series as have a mediocre one. The only humor from the entire series that I can recall is when Jamie called Ian an idgit. The arrogance of someone thinking that they can improve on the source material is astounding to me. All the added scenes and even whole episodes that were not in the book and took up space that could have been used for something worthwhile. Most of these scenes didn’t even advance the storyline. We all know that slavery was bad and that the American Indians were mistreated and that shouldn’t be the focus of entire episides. I don’t want to be preached to. I don’t want any more dead Frank or Leoghaire. I have been afraid to compliment Ed Speleers because I am afraid they will rehabilitate his character and marry him off to Lizzie or someone. All I want is to escape into this beautiful love story. That didn’t happen in season four.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Deborah, I so agree with you about the lack of humour, too. Jame is really laugh-out-loud funny in the books and there is a lot of funny banter between them all …. I don’t think it would take too much time to show that on screen. Thats a real hoot what you said about not complimenting Ed Speleers!! 🙂 🙂 I hear you
I have read all the books and am awaiting ‘Bees’. I have come to terms with some of the changes that have been made between book & STARS. My opinion is everything seems too choreographed and stiff. There isn’t any fluidity. The actors need to be able to act not just follow direction. Directors are Directors and Actors are Actors …. they are not the same. Concentrate more on the story lines rather than the outfits. I am not a historian so things don’t have to be exact. Let the series breathe. Stop restricting it. BUT …. either way I will continue to watch it because it is my favorite genre and I am glad it is here
You’ve made some interesting observations there Donna. About the fluidity, the restriction and letting it breathe …. I’m with you on all of that, and I’ll continue to watch too … thanks for joining the conversation.
I just want them back in Scotland .
Unfortunately Christine, that’s not going to happen for a long time 😉
C Bruey! I have enjoyed Outlander, and especially the leading man, and leading lady, but this last season, UGH! We forgot about them, and it seemed that all scenes of violence, was the highlight of this season! Sad! I enjoy Jamie and Claire, to me that was the core of Outlander. Coming to America, starting a new journey, I would have like to seen more romantic scenes, their chemistry, their lovemaking! Till next season!
I feel the same way. Thank you for putting my thoughts so eloquently so they can be shared.
Well said, now if the show’s writers would listen to the fans we’d really be back on track!
You have put into words exactly the way I feel. I have striven in exchanges with a different type of Outlander wherever I can recently, and I’ve stuck to my guns. Thank you for a well written and academically referential piece of writing; God, I miss those groundbreaking days – if Sam and Cait are able to have more influence in protecting the essence and core of the show, Jamie and Claire’s passion, then that would be welcome news indeed.
Fans are not blinkered, we know that the later Outlander stories expand and grow the Fraser family experience, we know that. We want to see a grown William and his travails within the British Army, we want to follow Ian on his adventures with the Mohawk, and we want to share in the highs and lows of Fergus and Marsali’s lives. But: J & C, and the length and breadth of their relationship should always remain at the heart of things. No one expects the same amount of sexual activity as before, but the quality, those groundbreaking feminist liberating exhilarating scenes …. well, now and again, guys? At least.
Thanks for this Andree – a well-written article indeed!
I did not read the books, so from my perspective, this approach to showing Claire and Jaimie this way throughout the season was the show’s creators’ way of communicating that Claire and Jamie’s relationship has somewhat changed after their arrival to America:
In the first season when they met it was under such extreme circumstances (constant threats of death and such) – that I think this has contributed to the intensity of their relationship. And while they do face turmoil in season 4 as well – their relationship is a bit more…I guess the best word for it is “domestic”. They are busy with choirs, other people that need them (in a good way for the most part) and so they have less time for each other at that particular point in time. It’s even mentioned explicitly in one of their dialogues (can’t remember in which episode that was) – that they haven’t been alone in a long time so they were missing quality time with each other.
Of course, we all want to see more of that in the same “groundbreaking” way it was shown in season 1, but this kind of periods do happen in real marriages…and while it is a romance show and all, it’s good that Claire and Jamie are not presented as this “larger than life” couple TOO much…On the contrary – it makes them more relatable in my opinion.
You are clearly on target. I actually love the small talk when they are alone before and after sex. It is so telling of how deep they are into each other. I miss this from the show due to the time constraints, but it is the core of their unique relationship to me. The story is Jamie and Claire, the rest is just back drop to play off of.
This article is spot on. When I listen to Maril Davis in her interviews, I often wonder what she is REALLY thinking and feeling because her responses to questions often don’t ring true to me. We viewers aren’t idiots and can see through B.S. when we hear it. If I hear one more response from an Outlander production executive state that there wasn’t enough time to give J and C’s relationship more screen time, I will spew nails. The episode with Bree running around the Highland hills was a ridiculous waste of time and there are many more such examples. As a book reader, I will always watch the tv series and try to hold my tongue but, oh, how I miss the excitement and enthusiasm that was Season 1. I understand that relationships change after the initial bloom wears off, but the way Gabaldon wrote J and C, theirs was a special and unique relationship. Also, they missed out on 20 years together, so in a way their love was still new and exciting in their middle ages. I don’t know if Ron has abandoned ship or the writers are too new, but hopefully the ship will right itself and bring us a Season 5 that will renew those old feelings of sweet abandon and joyful love that we all knew and cherished. I am hopeful.
So so true! it clearly lost the touch and became another drama… So sad for us all, and you manage to find the words for me! Thanks
100% agree. Great read! Thank you!
Lusty love with 50-ish, married characters would be groundbreaking TV…please show that lust does not die with enduring love! The cliche is you can have true love and comfy sex or you can have exciting lust, but not both…not true! How about Claire in her garden watches Jamie sweat building the big house and decides she just needs him right NOW, can’t wait, won’t take no for an answer. Let’s christen the new master suite!
Just as important though for the series…BRING BACK HUMOR AND COMRADERIE! Remember the welcome the highlanders got when they came to Leoch? Sweet and funny. Rupert’s speech about Angus as Claire’s guard? The stories told around the campfires? “Your left hand is jealous of your right”? “Chickens are very poor company”? All the pathos and drama will be more poignant with a healthy dose of humor.
You absolutely nailed it. My feelings exactly. I have been expousing this POV every chance I get. Those articles from 2014 said it all. And the lines from the book you quoted demonstrates without a doubt that there is ample source material in the books to mine from. Its not the plotlines, no its the way they are going about doing the scenes that FEELS different. That make up sex scene at the campsite was a huge missed opportunity by the writers do a steamy, sensual love scene between Jamie and Clair, something akin to the love scene between Clair and Frank at Mrs. Bairds in season 101. But with the added passion of Two people who love each other desperately and want to make up the way only Cair and Jamie can. The audience whould have gone crazy. It probably would have saved the season! And getting rid of Cait as lead? Insane! Who on Gods earth could replace her? She and Sam are the glue that hold it all together. They are PERFECT! I hope we can stop all the silliness and get back to the authenticity and detpth of Season one. I’ll be watching and hoping regardless.
Sorry for the typo in my earlier post, my name is Karol, not Katol.? There are some very good posts in this thread. Its lovely to see how invested people are in the best love story on TV. And I certainly hope the reason there are fewer intimate scenes featuring the magnificent Sam and Cait is not due to push back from the actors. I have to think they are more professional than that. Cait said a couple of years ago that she was comfortable with her nude body and has no problem showing it on camera. I hope her attitude hasn’t changed. Its not about nudity at all, its about authenticity. If she no longer feels the freedom to portray Clair in all her glory, then perhaps its time for the show to end. I would completely understand. Her work in Season 1 will live forever. But if she is going to be Clair she must BE Clair and give us all the feels. And is there supposed to be something wrong with 60 year old hot sex? Grow up people!
I feel ageism might be showing itself if the showrunners believe older than 25 means more sedate in terms of sex. Sexuality is a strong, life-affirming force that doesn’t change as the years pass. Jamie and Claire in the show have always expressed that life force in many ways, physically, emotionally, and it’s very, very palpable, as the soulmates that they are.
I agree. I have gone back to re-reading the books. After season 1 Jamie & Claire lost the magic of the books. No more TV for me
Everything you said!!! I remember feeling sad at about S4 E4 too. I just didn’t know anyone else felt that way. This is how season 4 hit me: One week I actually FORGOT that Outlander was on! I watched it several days later, thinking “Where is Jamie??” He’s there physically but not emotionally. And I don’t think it had anything to do with Sam Heughan; it was the whole feel around it. I miss both season 1 and season 2. Thank you for writing.
I live everything said here, I would like to see the scenes you described incorporated into the show. I love this show for all its great acting , directing, scenery, sets and their fabulous relationship would like to see more as you stated
WOW. Just finished watching Season 4 and I am left with feeling so sad. They’ve RUINED this show.
There is just so much wrong with Season 4, where to begin?
They stripped this series of everything that made it so addictive – Jamie & Claire.
The spark is gone from their relationship.
The spark in their (once) magnetic love is gone.
It has left me feeling very angry at Claire, to the point of even hating & resenting her.
But what makes me the angriest? NO ONE APOLOGIZED TO JAMIE FOR THE WAY THEY TREATED HIM! NOR did they even THANK him. Poor Jamie.
The show ended on a very sad, dark note. Viewers are invested in Jamie & Claire’s relationship, not Brianna & Rogers. The relationship between Jamie & Claire needed to be repaired. Their connection needed to be repaired. Jamie deserved an apology from Claire, Brianna and Roger. Jamie just got treated SOOOOO badly & so unfairly in all of this. My heart was left breaking for Jamie. He deserved so much better – especially from Claire.
Brianna & Roger reuniting was supposed to end Season 4 on a positive, hopeful note. It didn’t. What a wrong way to go.
If anything, the fact that Roger even had to THINK about whether he wanted to still be with Brianna after finding out she was raped & pregnant – tells me all I need to know about him ….. HE’S NOT JAMIE.
Jamie would NEVER have needed time to decide if he would still be with Claire.
Outlander not only spent 1/2 of Season 4 on the inferior relationship between Brianna & Roger
(sorry – there is literally NO MAGIC in their relationship & never will be) & SOURED & killed off the magical connection Jamie & Claire once had – and we loved to watch.
WHAT A BUMMER
WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT
I am actually mourning over a relationship that isn’t even real. LOL
I wish I had never watched Season 4. If there was a way to un-see it, I would.
Shaunda – this is what I did after finishing season 4 which I did not like at all : I watched season 3 episode 1 to clear my pallet (SO heartbreaking but cathartic seeing Randall fall by Jamie’s hand, my season 4 feelings avenged! ) followed by a re watch of season 1 then re read Drums of Autumn just to reassure myself that the love story of C&J was in fact how I remembered it to be in the books at that time in the series. Some of the show is great television and I also hope season 5 will be like Outlander again. From a business point of view I don’t understand why TPTB would squander such a great opportunity to have a multi season show with a passionate fan base already baked into the cake + the casting jackpot of these amazing lead actors, seems dumb to me.
I completely agree with everything that you have expressed. Season 4 was so boring. They spent way too much time on Roger being tortured by the Indians. It was a very forgettable season. Season 5 is not starting out much better. I hope it picks up. They have the go ahead to film Season 6.
Thank you for your excellent article. I totally agree with all that you have described. I’ve actually gone back to rewatch Season 1, 2 and 3 due to the boredom of Season 4 and now the beginning of Season 5. The producers of the show need to bring the spark back in Jamie and Claire’s life. Otherwise I don’t see how I will be able to endure Season 6.
This claims, Aloha also and Thanks also to this said Sheila ( is Australian and N. Zealander English for a female ) Editor, reporter and/or ‘ ‘ scribe ‘ ‘ for ‘ ‘ oc ( for SHORT ) ‘ ‘ for that this i of her said columns for ‘ ‘ oc ( for SHORT ) ‘ ‘ on it and wondering also so on it with it now here STILL cites asking also, ” ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Is ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ OUTLANDER ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ STILL A Groundbreaking tv Show? ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ” for herself for herself, for ANYONE whosoever accepts also that this even claims also, Aloha also and Thanks also to this said Sheila ( is Australian and N. Zealander English for a female ) Editor, reporter and/or ‘ ‘ scribe ‘ ‘ for ‘ ‘ oc ( for SHORT ) ‘ ‘ for that this i of her said accounts for ‘ ‘ oc ( for SHORT ) ‘ ‘ on it and wondering also so on it with it now here STILL cites asking also, ” ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Is ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ OUTLANDER ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ STILL A Groundbreaking tv Show? ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ” him/herself for him/herself, for fans, for OUTSIDERS, for readers, for visitors, for others also and even for us, too….
But this even as well claims also, Aloha also and Thanks also to Ms. Poppleton for that this i of her said columns for ‘ ‘ oc ( for SHORT ) ‘ ‘ on it and wondering also so on it with it now here STILL recounts also that in this case also, ” ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ I WILL ALWAYS watch ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ OUTLANDER, ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ and WILL WAIT with bated breath for each season to keep up with what’s going on with my favourite ( spelling in N. Zealander English style ) characters such as Mr. S. Heughan’s hero and Ms. C. Balfe’s heroine…. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ” for herself for herself, for herself for herself too as well to boot, for herself for herself too as well to boot, for himself for himself too as well to boot, for himself for himself too as well to boot, for ANYONE whosoever accepts also that this even claims also, Aloha also and Thanks also to Ms. Poppleton for that this i of her said accounts for ‘ ‘ oc ( for SHORT ) ‘ ‘ on it and wondering also so on it with it now here STILL recounts also that in this case also, ” ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ I WILL ALWAYS watch ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ OUTLANDER, ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ and WILL WAIT with bated breath for each season to keep up with what’s going on with my favourite ( N. Zealander style spelling ) characters such as Mr. S. Heughan’s hero and Ms. C. Balfe’s heroine…. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ” him/herself for him/herself, for fans, for OUTSIDERS, for readers, for visitors, for others also and even for us, too….
Hi: Excellent commentary. I’m late to Outlander and never thought I’d become such a fan of a TIME TRAVEL show because I am very much a Britbox “historical drama” and PBS/ BBCdocumentary type. But I soon came to realize it was the “female gaze” I loved about Outlander and especially the very specific and lengthy depictions of an egalitarian sexual relationship It is a sad commentary that such a female-orients “view of a heterosexual relationships” is so radical… I’ve found it interesting that when there are analyses of WHY Outlander hasn’t WON more awards – like EMMYS – I’ve not yet seen the FEMALE GAZE given as a major contributing factor to its being overlooked, but I suspect that is a MAJOR reason. I don’t doubt that most of those on Golden Globe / Emmy / judge panels are males who simply don’t “get” Outlander’s feminist perspective. I wonder if you feel that Season 5 again renewed the bond – sexual and spirtiual – between Jamie and Claire that was so well-depicted in earlier seasons ( 1 and 2 especially) . I am thinking that it was especially strong in the last episodes ( especially THE last one) and wonder if Heughan’s and Balfe’s input as producers has contributed to the improvement in the depiction of their relationship in the 5th season.I believe these actors truly GET the egalitarian nature of the relationship they are portraying as well as being sensitive to how the bond between the characters is maturing as they age. Women like me who have long term, respectful, loving partnerships ( going on 50 years) can appreciate the emphasis placed on the richness and diversity of Jamie and Claire’s long-standing sexual relationship. If honest , I think many people ( perhaps most) will admit that a satisfying sexual relationship is the glue that holds a couple together . I asked my husband what percentage of our relationship’s success was due to a history of good sex and he said 80% ! I was surprised but I would have said 75%. When I think of other “great screen romances” like Bogie and Bergman in Casablanca one realizes how absolutely “little” we are given about their “connection” and we really have no clue about what they “had” when they say: “We always have Paris.” It is so gratifying on so many levels to SEE on the screen in Outlaner such an egalitarian relationship where the sex is all about the expression of love and various hues of love. The part I don’t understand is my addiction to it. Why does it stimulate so much DOPAMINE !? Of course I am one of many “addicts” as there are so many people watch the episodes “over and over” seeming to never tire of some of them, and to always find new nooks and crannies to contemplate and reflect about – like great literature or art ! I’m not sure it is either of the “latter” but it is definitely the most unusual and fascinating cinematic “entertainment” I have ever experienced. In closing many people on social media say “it’s not possible to have such a relationship in real life because such “great romantic love” is pure fantasy “… While I think it’s “not usual” for most couples to remain passionately in love for decades, nonetheless if you were to ask long-standing couples about their relationships I wager many – if not most – would say the y feel their love grows stronger every day and that having a beautiful loving adventurous sexual relationship is KEY. The Puritanical demonization of human sexuality was and is so cruel and has done so terrible damage to untold millions of people . Shows like Outlander show that human sexuality is beautiful especially in the context of a loving respectful relationship! Even if not “recognized sufficiently NOW” I believe this show will go down in cinema history as transformative of the medium of TV/ Cinema.
I disagree with everything this author says. All she talks about is sex, sex, sex. Outlander became more mature in the latest 2 seasons, had the best 1-on-1 dialogues in S4, also the best character and family evolvement in S4&5, and developed that degree of intimacy that goes beyond the explicit sex (on porn edge) practiced in the first season.
This article neglects one point. Sex lives change over time. Initially, they are passionate and unquenchable. As time goes on, that intensity diminishes, though the loving nature remains. Claire and Jamie are in later-middle age, so I would expect their desire probably doesn’t go away, but the character of the sexual exchanges would differ from their salad days.
It seems that the “me too” movement has had an impact on the more recent script writing. I’m not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, it is a concentration of the female gaze, and that’s always a good thing. On the other hand, I don’t think Outlander has been careless with the actors during intimate scenes. I do think it’s interesting that some folks are turned off by “too much sex” while others decry the lack of sex. Personally I think the writers do a fabulous job with pretty much everything they pull from the books.
It is interesting to note that Sam has been quoted as saying that he thinks maybe they went too far with some of the sex scenes and with the torture scenes between him and BJR.
I just had the pleasure of completing reading the thread of comments following Andree’s article about Season 4. I, too had a sense of loss after watching season 4 but must admit I still revisit some of the episodes. Specifically the bonding of Bree and Jamie hunting for bees, her calling him Da, the sweet scene between Jamie and Claire discussing Bree and Jamie’s gift to Claire, and hers to him. More telling was young Ian commenting to Claire on seeing Jamie’s sadness and Claire’s coldness to him, resulting in our make up sex scene. Finally, the great acting by Sam at leaving Ian with the Mohawk. Heartbreaking. I love this series, and have re-watched many scenes, deleted much to reach a certain scene, and read and re-read the books. My family agrees I am obsessed. I may be a horny old lady of 86, but I have sweet memories of my husband who loved me dearly. Stolen kisses and unexpected hugs does not only belong to the young. I look froward to season 6.
I started reading the books in the early 2000s I fell in love with Jamie and Claire to the extent that I missed them. To this day I believe Diana Gabaldon is a poetic writer and genius. They entered my heart. The fact that this story could possibly be brought to life in a series, still thrills me…The story and scenes are so complex that I never thought possible. Sam and Cate are superb in their roles, the scenes are extordinary.. Thanks to all of the actors for bringing the stories to life.
I didn’t discover Outlander until late in 2020. It’s been a revelation, a realization of all that has been missing from television my whole life. Claire is the character whose perspective I didn’t know I needed, Jamie is the embodiment of worthiness for my desire. Their relationship is truly aspirational, its depiction of intimacy — mental and physical — has been superb. That being said, I definitely noticed Jamie & Claire’s marked decrease in screen time in later seasons. I grew frustrated as scenes with such steamy potential began fading to black with disturbing regularity. Why would Claire so often want to keep that filthy shift on as a barrier between Jamie’s strong hands and her lovely skin? These are characters who revel in being naked together, not people who become inexplicably more modest as they age. Come on, now. While in the throes of my very first Droughtlander (and oh, what a long one it is!), I read the first five books as well. It was nice not having any preconceived ideas while watching the show for the first time; I’ll be sticking to that plan moving forward (show first, book second). I find reading the books rewardingly different from watching the show; comparing/contrasting the two is something of a masterclass in book-to-TV adaptation. It’s fascinating to see what gets amplified, minimized, or invented — overall, they’ve created something truly outstanding. I sincerely hope the show offers us more intimate scenes in the coming seasons, including more humorous banter and pillow talk. Claire & Jamie deserve to have the fullest, most developed version of their relationship come to fruition. These two have given me so much joy. Bravo to Sam & Caitríona for making them as real as can be. If more women were driving decisions behind awards and recognition for television excellence, Outlander would be one of the most decorated shows in existence. Never lose sight of the power and beauty of the female gaze!