The first two seasons of Outlander will begin streaming on Netflix in the U.S. on May 26. Here’s some advice for new watchers on how life with Outlander will change.
I stumbled on Outlander entirely by accident sometime after the second season began. I had never heard of the show and only clicked on the episode because the description mentioned time travel, strong language and nudity (three of my favorite things) and I had a few minutes to spare. I devoured the episodes so quickly that I caught up with Season 2 and watched the finale live with the rest of the world. All that to say, I’ve been in your shoes, Outlander-newbie. In honor of you and all the other Netflix subscribers in the U.S. who will gain access to the show for the first time on May 26, I’m giving you the advice I wish I’d had prior to watching the show and a head’s up on some possible life changes that could result by becoming a fan.
Outlander episodes are 50-60 minutes long and, like that Lay’s potato chip commercial from the 80s, “you can’t eat just one.” Every episode of Outlander ends with a cliffhanger that leaves you wanting more. Since your digital player will be kind enough to automatically move you on to the next episode, just go with it. And when Netflix asks “are you still watching?” feel free to yell, “YES I’M STILL WATCHING!” as you scramble for the remote. And now, on to the advice.
I will freely admit that I’m the kind of girl who is always on the lookout for her next meal. At breakfast, I muse about lunch. At lunch, I make plans for dinner. At dinner, I occasionally think about breakfast the next morning. When I discovered Outlander, I stopped dreaming about food and worried more about when I was going to get my next fix…er…I mean be able to watch the next episode.
If you work full time and have a family to care for, this juggling act of mother (or father), spouse, employee and Outlander fan can be difficult. It’s why I highly recommend meal prep. One day each week, set aside some time to prepare meals for the next five days. You can find some great suggestions on Pinterest that involve gallon-sized storage bags, vegetables and slow cookers or you could just make sure that the package of ramen noodles is stored close to the pan. Don’t judge me. We all prep differently. Besides, you’ll be thanking me when you get to spend the hour you would have spent cooking on watching Outlander instead. You’re welcome.
Softball Practice and Business Trips Suddenly Won’t Seem So Terrible
I love my family. I also love Outlander, and when I was watching Seasons 1 and 2, I still loved the two humans with whom I share my life. I also hoped they would fall asleep early, have extended sports practices, attend sleepovers and birthday parties, and need to be away for work trips. I watched Outlander in the living room, the bedroom, on airplanes and more than once in my car while I waited for softball practice to end. I volunteered to be the one who did the softball practice run precisely so I could have 90 minutes of uninterrupted viewing time.
I’m not saying Outlander will ruin your family life (please keep reading for the entry on sex). I’m just saying that you might not be sad when family members have to go away for two hours, or overnight, or a 10-day business trip to Italy. The latter of which results in you being a single parent for that amount of time, which makes things hectic but also means that the television is yours, yours, all yours every night after the kid goes to bed and, on balance, it’s a pretty sweet deal.
You’ll Put Reading an 800-page Book on Your To-Do List (Eight Times)
I have never watched a TV show and then had a burning desire to read the books on which the show was based. Enter Outlander. Halfway through the first season, I decided I absolutely must find the book this show was based on. The opening credits told me it was written by a “Diana Gabaldon.” I searched the name and found that Outlander was not a single book, but an entire series.
Over the next two weeks, I paused my show watching as I raced through Outlander. The details, the conversations, the painting pictures with words that Diana Gabaldon does and the sex scenes (holy mother of God, those sex scenes) had me on pins and needles from beginning to end. I had never read anything like it and I found it difficult to put down the book. During some of the more intense scenes, my Fitbit logged a workout due to my elevated heart rate. I read until midnight when I usually fall asleep by 10:30. I woke up at 3:00 am because I was worried about Jamie and Claire and how they were going to extricate themselves from their latest predicament. I was clearly in trouble, but I’ve always been a glutton for punishment, so I ordered Dragonfly in Amber (the second book in the series) so that I would be sure to have it on hand immediately after finishing Outlander.
And just like the shampoo bottle recommends, I rinsed and repeated my way through Voyager, Drums of Autumn and the Fiery Cross. I hope you will too. My Outlander Cast colleague and friend Janet Reynolds wrote a blog post about why you should read (and reread the books) and I don’t disagree with a word she wrote. If you’re on the fence about reading the books, check out Janet’s recent blog post about why you should both read the books and watch the show.
You’ll Discover the Meaning of Yarn Porn (And Maybe Share a Moment With Your Ancestors)
As I watched season one, I fell in love with the Scottish countryside (more on that later) but I also fell hard for Claire’s knitted pieces. The Scottish Highlands looked cold, gray and damp but Claire looked so warm! I moved from Kentucky to Michigan 26 years ago and I’ve been cold ever since, so I was more than a little jealous of Claire’s, apparent, coziness.
This would be a good time to note that I have always loved historical fashion and have maligned the fact that crinolines and corsets make terrible office attire. If I could only find a knitter, I might finally be able to incorporate some historical fashion into my wardrobe. Whenever I’m in need of something made by human hands that are not mine, I go to Etsy and, as usual, this time it did not disappoint. There were shawls, fingerless gloves, capeletes and cowls just waiting to be purchased. That was three years ago and I now have an entire collection of these items I wear throughout the cold months (September through May).
While visiting with my grandmother earlier this year, she gave me a stack of old documents and pictures to peruse. I came across a photo of my four times great-grandmother Nancy McKenzie. She was wearing a great hooped skirt and wait for it…fingerless gloves! It was exciting to share this moment in apparel history with my 90-year old grandmother and a grandmother who has been dead since 1894.
Your Vocabulary Will Expand
There were moments in the first few Outlander episodes where I could barely follow the conversation. There is the Gaelic (which is always incomprehensible to me) and then there’s the English spoken with a Scottish accent (which is occasionally incomprehensible to me). Viewing note: some people watch the show with the subtitles on. In the beginning, I didn’t even think about using closed captioning. As it became clear I was hooked, I realized I would understand all the words by my fourth rewatch so I didn’t bother.
Once your ears adjust to the accents, you’ll begin to hear words you’ve heard before, mostly in historical dramas, that will suddenly feel new and perfectly suited for the first half of the 21st century. Words like “aye,” “ken” and “fash” will go into rotation with all the other words in your head and, occasionally, you’ll give your approval to a co-worker by saying “aye.” Once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll move on to more complex phrases and you’ll soothe a loved one’s fears by saying “dinna fash.” You’ll scold your children for causing a “kebbie-lebbie” and you’ll wish your other half would, just once, whisper “mo nighean donn” as he pulls you close to him.
Your Sex Life Will Change
Let me be clear, Outlander is not a little blue pill. What it is, however, is a series of powerful messages about sex through the eyes of a married women who is not a damned bit ashamed to tell her man what she needs and how she needs it. She’s also quite ok with showing him how to do it if he’s not catching on quickly enough. We don’t get to see that very often on our television screens and, while it’s powerful, it’s also inspirational. Watching Claire reduce Jamie to nothing more than a puddle of sweat and curly red hair made me think about my own guy. A lot. That poor man. Let’s just say I think he was ok that (spoiler alert) season two had less sex than season one. Outlander should come with the same warning as that previously-mentioned blue pill. Before beginning Outlander, you should check with your doctor to make sure your heart is healthy enough for Outlander.
You’ll Dream of Going to Scotland
I knew very little about Scotland before watching Outlander. About two episodes into the first season, I still didn’t know a lot but I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, it was calling to me. There was something about those views of the Highlands that spoke to my soul in ways few things ever have. Was I falling in love with a place? Was I falling in love with an idea? Was I losing my mind? I still don’t have definitive answers to those questions but I’d love to know if, after watching Outlander, you have Scotland dreams too.
You Might Actually Go to Scotland
Outlander has caused a tourism boom in Scotland because so many of us want (need) to see this place for ourselves. My Outlander Cast colleague and friend, Andrée Poppleton, was so moved by what she saw on the screen that she put her life in Tasmania on hold and had a “gap year” in Scotland. Andrée walked the streets of Glasgow and Edinburgh and rambled through the Scottish Highlands with newfound friends. She served as a guide for Outlander-themed tours and she visited several filming locations. Andrée’s Scottish travels formed the basis for many of her Outlander Cast posts (click here to see a listing). My personal favorite was her Outlandish Day Out post I used last year during my own visit to Scotland (of course I went, too!).
You’ll Do a DNA Test (and Everything Will Begin to Make Sense)
All that pining for Scotland and being moved by scenery on television got me to thinking about my ancestors and wondering if there could be a common theme at play. I began to dig around in the Ancestry.com archive. As I traced my roots further into the past, I began uncovering Scottish ancestors. I wanted to see if my DNA matched up with what I was finding in my family tree, so I spit in the little cup and waited patiently for a few weeks while the lab did its work. My results are 41% Ireland and Scotland. I was positively thrilled to make this real-world connection to my own family history. I’m not saying the same thing will happen to you; just don’t be surprised if six months from now you find yourself spitting into a little plastic tube, too.
You’ll Make New Friends
I’m not one to seek out friends. I’m an introvert by nature and I like the little bubbles I’ve created for myself and I’m quite content to remain in them. But something happened when I stumbled on Outlander. I wanted to talk to other people about what I had just seen. I wanted to talk to someone about the thing I had just read. I needed to find other people.
Like any modern woman, when I want to find people, I turn to the internet. I googled Outlander and found lots of articles on filming and cast interviews. Then one day a Facebook friend posted a blog post from Outlander Cast. I read it and it said exactly what I had been feeling. I noticed this friend had also shared a second post so I read that one and I was hooked. These women, Anne Gavin and Denise Stewart, were writing my feelings and I needed more of that.
I joined Outlander Cast so that I could write my own feelings (and believe me, I’ve got a lot of them) but it didn’t end there. The Outlander Cast staff became friends and then they became family. We attended events together and made even more Outlander friends along the way. Through social media I’ve met people I interact with every day. Outlander got me out of my comfort zone and the love of it has literally taken me to places I never thought I would go. I hope it does the same for you. Also, if you happen to attend an event with Grant O’Rourke (Rupert MacKenzie), be sure to get a hug. He gives the best ones.
With all of that said, I think it’s important to note that actual viewer experiences will vary. Maybe you’ll watch the show and then resume your regularly-scheduled life. And that’s fine. But maybe, just maybe, you’ll watch and then wake up one morning to find that a little piece of your heart is missing and you’re pretty sure it’s waiting for you in the Scottish Highlands. If that happens then you’re in the right place, friend. We’ve got lots of Outlander content to keep what’s left of your heart occupied until your travel dream comes true.
Until next time, happy Outlander watching (and rewatching)!
If you’re new to Outlander we would love to hear from you. What are your first impressions of the show? If you’re a grizzled Outlander veteran what do you remember about your first time watching the show? Has Outlander changed your life or friendships in any way?
Nikki Gastineau joined Outlander Cast as a writer in 2016 when she realized that her friends would no longer tolerate her constant talk of Outlander and she needed an outlet for all the thoughts. Each time you read one of her blog posts, you are working to save those friendships. Both Nikki and her friends thank you. If you would like to read more of Nikki’s mostly nonsensical and occasionally heartwarming writings, you can visit her personal blog at sassynik.com. If you’d like to see photos of beer and wine, sunsets, and cozy things, you should follow Nikki’s Instagram account. You can find her at @nikkigastineau on both Instagram and Twitter.
I started with the books in the ‘90’s and have watched and loved the series since day one. I have joined a few FB Outlander sites, read posts mostly but have also joined groups and met other fans here in Michigan and in Florida when I spent 2 months with my daughters last year. While rereading one of the books for the umpteenth time I carry it with me. It is sure conversation starter and have found other fans in restaurants and even the doctor’s office… THE DOCTOR! My 2 loves are horses and Outlander. Since I do not currently have a horse guess where my attention is?!!?
Right now I have 3 bookshelves devoted to Outlander and it isn’t all books!
I got my 2 daughters into Outlander and they have shared in some of my fan craziness.
Love your article for the newbies and everything you wrote is true!
A fellow Michigander!! Have you also been cold for the last twenty years? Also, I love that you recruited your daughters. When I was about midway through the second season, I happened to mention to my mom that I had been watching this amazing show called Outlander and her response was “Oh, YOU watch Outlander too?” Needless to say, she’s a little more low-key with her Outlander love than I am.
I came across Season 3 by accident, then caught up with S1 and S2 on Netflix, followed that to S4 on Amazon Prime, and then… the books! Bought 1-8, plus the Outlandish Companion 1 and 2. Found myself reading the books with Vol 2 of the Companion to hand (the comprehensive dictionary was especially helpful!). After that I filled in the gaps with the Lord John books.
For me, it worked that I’d seen the television series first because I could picture the characters as I read and the differences didn’t matter – to me Catriona Balfe and Sam Heughan will always be the perfect Claire and Jamie. I think that if I’d read the books first the way some of the other characters and plot lines varied from Diana’s descriptions would irritate, but now they’re hardly a hiccup. I can dismiss them as just a way to get those enormous tomes into a viable television series.
Like you, Nikki, found that I was starting to think with a Scottish accent. My English vocabulary also expanded (thank you, Diana), although I probably don’t really need to be quite so au fait with 18th century fashion and customs.
So now we’re in Droughtland. I’m watching the series from start to finish for the fourth time, dipping into the books, and I’m sooo hanging out for Season 5 and Go tell the bees. Sigh…
I feel the same way about having found the show first. Sam and Cait have ALWAYS been Jamie and Claire to me. I think that accepting what I first saw in the show helped me treat the books differently so that I’ve never gotten upset about the deviations from the book to the show. The show is like the Cliff Notes version of a rich, textured, and thought-provoking story.
Thank you so much for your article. You’ve described my experience with Outlander the TV series, the books and my infatuation with Scotland to a to a T. I’m relieved to hear my obsession is normal.?
I read the first book, Outlander, 8 years ago but did not continue with rest of the series…work, family…life got in the way. My husband and I started watching the series this February. I fell in love with ALL of the characters, especially Jamie and Claire. I’ve enjoyed learning more about Sam and Caitriona who have brought Jamie and Claire to life for me. They seem like good, down to Earth people who are surprised and pleased with the success of the TV series.
Currently, we are 4 episodes away from finishing Season 3 and admittedly, if we aren’t able to fit an episode in at the end of the day, I am very disappointed. Thankfully, I head to bed and read Outlander as I am committed to reading the whole series now! Dragonfly in Amber just arrived in the mail.
I’m so glad to have found the TV series, the books and all the Outlander fans. I see a trip to Scotland in my future.
Kristin, I didn’t say that your obsession is NORMAL, I just said that I have it too! 😉
Seriously, I hope you do get to go to Scotland. It.Is.Amazing.
Great post as always Nikki. It is exciting to think of many new fans joining the Outlander universe through US Netflix. I am a bit concerned though about the reaction of OL virgins (those who haven’t read the books) to the Wentworth episodes in Season 1. This is solely based on a sample of one, my husband, who had no issues with GOT…should be interesting.
Dina, I think about that too, especially because my husband totally hated the Wentworth prison episode. Fortunately, his hate is geared to Tobias Menzies (hahaha), and he is ok with Sam. I don’t think those scenes needed to be so explicit. I suffer every time I watch them, but that was the writers’ decision. I really wished more people would find the magic that we, the Outlander fans, have found, and that has made us so happy.
Thanks Dina and thanks so much for reading (as always)! I have an interesting relationship with the Wentworth episodes. They helped bring me to a place of healing that I had begun to think would not be possible. It’s just one of the many reasons that I love this show so very much. With that said, I think my reaction is atypical and I always wonder if I should add a disclaimer when I recommend the show and books to people.
Stumbled upon the first 3 books at the library…thought the covers looked interesting. Halfway through the first book, I ran to the library to check out the other 2 before someone else got them. I now own them all and reread them periodically, always finding something new to focus on. Have been to Scotland and embarrassed myself by asking if Jamie was known at this or that place. Write on Diana, but less Lord John and more Jamie and Claire!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read Barbara! Did anyone in Scotland know of Jamie Fraser? 🙂
I’ve just returned from Scotland where I went on three Outlander tours (before and after hiking the West Highland Way). Two of the guides, one a historian, said that Outlander has had a great impact on Scotland. They said that requests for Outlander tours continues to be as popular. as ever. One of the guides said that Sam Hueghan has been an extremely good emissary for Scotland. I stayed at the Drover Inn, where one patron said Sam Hueghan had stopped by at the bar recently (wonderful bar and great inn!)
Nikki, Thanks you so much for your article. It comes at a good time when I am feeling: Am I spending too much thinking of Outlander, reading Outlander? I got into this world through my niece who recommended me the show when season 2 was just starting. I went back to watch season 1, and I was pleased to know that there were 2 parts to season 1. I was totally hooked from the start. I read the books in a very short time, and now I am re-reading up to the beginning of ABOSAA. It is so cozy to live in this world, that I don’t want to leave.
I would like to binge watch the series, but I only watch one episode at a time when my husband doesn’t see me. He doesn’t mind at all, but I feel guilty, silly me!!!
As for Scotland…My husband has told me to join an Outlander tour, but I am not able to go because I have a walking disability. The agency cannot guarantee that there will be accommodation at every site. Therefore, I resign myself to dream of Scotland.
It’s very nice to know there are other women who feel the same passion for Outlander, but do it unabashedly!!
I’ve just found your blog and I so get you and your love of Outlander. I too binged everything as I was a late comer. I have ways loved reading about the history of the British Isles and seem to have been attracted to their people over my years. My partner is a Scot who bears a striking resemblance to Dougal! I’m off on a trip exploring Ireland, Britain, Scotland and Wales in August and I’m doing it on my own. I’m really looking forward to seeing Scotland in particular.
Thanks for your insights and introduction to Outlander cast. Maybe I will also make some new friends.
Acabo de descubrir este sitio maravilloso y no voy a salir de aquí nunca! Soy de Europa, España y hemos tenido la suerte de disfrutar de la serie antes que en USA. Ya vi las cuatro temporadas y siguo día a día el rodaje de la serie a través de instagram de los actores que nos descubren pequeñas imágenes y noticias. Me siento plenamente identificada con este artículo. Cuando empiezas a ver la serie no existe otra cosa… Planeo mi viaje a Escocia aunque sea sola el próximo verano. Outlander me ha hecho descubrir un lugar y tradiciones preciosas.
Loved your hints for Outlander newbies! I just wanted to mention that after reading all of the books, I then listened to all of the audio books, which I found delightful! Then I read them all again. Anyroads, I can’t wait for the 9th book – hopefully this year, but who knows, right?
My obsession with Outlander began when the first book came out and I chose to read it on a long flight. I don’t remember where I was going but we arrived too soon cuz I didn’t want to put the book down! Like you I had to spread the word so I had someone to share this wonderful journey. Once 2 of my co-workers picked it up (I couldn’t part with mine) and we were constantly chatting about it, a third “book snob” co-worker accepted our dare to join us—hooked her big time! For years I would hear rumors that it was going to be a movie or on TV and we were excited at the prospect. As casting announcements were made I confess I wasn’t quite thrilled with the choices for Claire and Jamie but dang they were the perfect choices and I couldn’t tell you why I doubted them! When Stars announced the show I told my husband that I didn’t care how much it cost we had to buy the channel. When I called to add it to my package the rep kept asking me what other channels did I want—only Starz I replied and told her I was getting it solely because of Outlander. She laughed and said they were being flooded with requests for the same reason and she was gonna have to check it out. Once it started, my husband reluctantly sat down to watch it one time and he was hooked! Now we watch it together and are planning a trip to Scotland! Your tips to newbies are spot on and we are anxiously awaiting the return!
I turned on Netflix tonight, 5-28-19, no Outlander. What gives?
Read the books as they were published – argh! New one would come, and 2 days reading later I’d be dreaming in a Scottish brogue again – tongue of my ancestors.
Thank you for listing out ALL of the things that have transpired in my life since I discovered Outlander just under 3 weeks ago. Tonight I watched the Season 4 finale….so what now? The Outlander book sample is queued up on my kindle and my ancestry.com account was opened today. Already I’ve tracked roots back to Scotland with delight! This really does take your life on a whole new trajectory doesn’t it? And I don’t even love TV? Who have I become?? Relieved I’ve found some fellow fans to rest in comfort with because my existence as I knew it has transformed and I now need to relearn how to live. Guide me master! ??
I am from Eastern Europe, I first opened a TV series then read the books. My humble opinion is that there are no drastic discrepancies between books and the show. Literally, of all 55 episodes I don’t like about 40-45 minutes. I love Claire, Brianna, and sometimes Jamie :)) In fact, I love them all! I was very impressed with your style and attitude, as well as your desire to share thoughts and impressions, probably because I’m experiencing the same thing! Thank you for the positive and good luck! 🙂