As I begin writing this, treading into the murky waters of potentially pissing off the production, especially Matt, possibly Terry, maybe Maril? I think about Oprah’s words at the Golden Globes…”What I know for sure, is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.” So, I’ll say this: it’s never my intention to piss off the production team, whom I admire so much. What I offer comes from a place of support, always.
And Maril has said…
as long as the critiques are respectful it's all good
— Maril Davis (@TallShipProds) July 11, 2016
Why do I feel compelled to speak up? Because I care. I care about Outlander and everything that surrounds it, including the people, the process, and the product.
When I interviewed Caitriona last September at the NYC Season 3 premiere in New York City, I asked her what advice 40-something-year-old Claire would give to present day Caitriona, and she said (and I quote) “I think Claire would just tell anybody to be very true to yourself and to stand up for yourself… she’s definitely given me a voice, or made me listen to my own voice a little bit more, which is great.”
In this piece, I am amplifying the many voices that sprang up from a simple Easter/Passover greeting that I sent out, with a video. I came across the trailer for the second half of Season 1, and it struck me – the theme of waiting – waiting for Christ to rise from the dead, for Moses to part the Red Sea and free the slaves, and waiting for Jamie and Claire’s story – a story described by the author herself, as Jamie’s story as told by Claire, to continue.
The first comment I received was a concern about the Season 4 teaser which was released in December of 2017. I usually don’t watch the trailers, because I am among the few who like to be totally surprised by the costumes, sets, and plot changes in each new season, when it arrives. But, I did watch this one, after the comments came rolling in.
Here is that trailer…
“I was thinking back to your letter to Ron some time ago commenting on Jaimie’s character in the series. Why is it that we find the books so compelling, but the series… the 1st season was outstanding, as the recap of Season 1 you just included proves, and the first half of the 3rd season rang true, – Sam was outstanding, but the second half just was not… I can’t put my finger on it. The books, all 8 of them, continue to draw us into the characters, their lives, their passions, their integrity. We love and admire both Claire and Jamie. The books are so much more than a rip-rousing story and history come alive… they are a journey into the soul of a relationship/ a marriage, between two people who are each other’s EQUAL and whose strengths compliment each other and I just didn’t feel that in the 2nd half of the 3rd season. To me, Jamie did not come across as worthy of Claire’s heart wrenching, irrevocable decision to go back in time to him. His actions were, for the most part, similar in book and series, but his character seemed immature, driven too often just by emotion…and his lying and pettiness (I’m sure that scene where he shows no concern about continuing to live in a brothel despite Claire’s objections was NOT in the book – please tell me it wasn’t) seemed to use up so much more air in season three than in Voyager… What’s happening?
….The series is still wonderful, but it could be SO much more… and the clip they’ve shown us so far from Season 4 has me quite worried. She’s telling him about the American dream and he looks up at her sort of doe-eyed (she comes across as the wise older woman/ teacher/mother and he almost her child) and asks if that’s how it will be like for them (I forget the exact lines) and I just found myself wanting to throw something at the screen because that’s NOT how I think our Jamie would behave. He is sexy and strong, yes, but also smart and educated and PROUD and honorable and his own person, and I WISH they would stop painting her as emotionally and intellectually stronger and more honorable than he is.” —Piper.
“…I saw a tweet a while ago to Matt Roberts from a fan. She asked how many more times will Claire be given Jamie’s lines in Season 4 and so on. He was not happy about the comment. I however felt she spoke for many of us fans of the books and the series.
They have definitely diluted Jamie’s character in order to promote the stronger message of the lady being the lead character instead of portraying the couple as equals as Diana intended.
I love Balfe and her acting has grown throughout the series but this is not just her show.
That small snippet of the trailer from S4 with Jamie asking Claire about how things would be in America; was typical of making Jamie look like a love sick, awe struck adolescent, rather than the intelligent Alpha male that he is.
I love the books and enjoy the series greatly, especially the amazing designs both in scenery and costumes but would dearly love them to equalise the main couple as they are meant to be and thus deliver an even more appreciated impressive show.” —Yvonne
“…I am in agreement that unfortunately the role of Jamie has been diminished – that he is a follower – a reactor to everything around him. Jamie that we know in the books – is a leader, a soldier, an educated, travelled and strong minded yet stubborn man, a man who knows his self-worth. My question is why did they change that?
I feel that Sam Heughan, though I have never met him, is a great actor but I feel that he has been made, unfortunately, to look like an “younger brother/child” to Claire. As a Highlander from the 1740’s Jamie would have been more stronger in nature, someone Claire would definitely look up to which she did – as, if you have read the books, she always safe and secure with him. They had their little spats occasionally, what married couple doesn’t, but their love for each other grew stronger all the time. This has been almost diminished as the Outlander series has progressed.” —Rhona
“Ron Moore has said several times in interviews during the first year, that he sees this as a story about a strong woman… Thus the ‘seconding’ of Jamie. I agree that the books are the story of “JAMIE AND CLAIRE” together, one soul, for one without the other is only half the story. And this is NOT what comes through on the screen, at least not since the first season. I think for whatever reason, they interpret the books as a story “…about a fiesty woman”. I get that a book doesn’t ‘just’ translate to the screen… My obsession has slowly dwindled as the show has moved farther away from the soul of the book. I will continue to watch for now, but no guarantee for how long… —Rachel
The S4 trailer is as Piper described. I thought it was my imagination. Also, when they landed on the beach in Georgia, it appeared that he was befuddled ( as an educated man, he would know Georgia was a Colony) and it was Claire who was thinking clearly… and she had just recovered from unconsciousness! …Claire recognizing Jamie’s strength, solid judgement and integrity (and vis versa) is the center pillar of the books, story and characters. Claire states her respect of him MANY times, and defers to him or ensures they share decision-making. We’re all believers that men and women are equal. One’s strength (Claire, in this case) should not diminish the other’s (Jamie) – and vis versa. This is the essence of the entire story. —Nadine
“After season 1, I have commented on many occasions that it’s like feminism has taken hold and the writers/directors seem hell bent on making Claire appear a “Superwoman” even giving her some of Jamie’s parts/words…this reduces/relegates Jamie to a subservient position which I have never found in the books. SH is a very good actor and I don’t enjoy seeing him have to portray JAMMF like this. Yes, Claire is a strong (20th Century raised) woman but she wouldn’t survive in the 1700s without him; her demeanour would soon land her in trouble..in fact it is said just so later in the books…” —Sherenne
“My husband has not read the Outlander series, and as he has watched the show he has observed that Jamie’s character as a man is being slighted/sidelined. He becomes impatient with Claire and told me that the way they are being written makes him want to read the books to see how Diana actually portrays them….”
It seems that Sam himself feels this effect, based on his comments about Season 4 in this recent interview… (thank you Ursula)
In an early(ish) interview between Robert Licuria (who I like very much, by the way), and Caitriona (who I also like very much), Rob said “I think the genius of Outlander is that it appeals to women who feel disenfranchised in a male world.” I remember thinking that that summary definitely missed the mark for me. But, he articulated very well what seems like a primary driver for the show, both in choices about writing and what scenes get left in or edited out of the final product. In the visual adaptation, I would even say that Jamie’s character (certainly), and Jamie and Claire’s relationship both play second fiddle to this driving theme. I think this is what feels like an ill fitting piece of clothing to those of us who believe that both lead characters and their relationship are the true core of the story.
As I’ve said before, this is a major theme in our culture right now. As women are being uplifted (as they should be), I’ve noticed a trend for men to be portrayed as “less than.” I can see the confusion in many boys and men around me as people try to understand their places, and I think we see this play out in Jamie’s character.
If you happened to watch Oprah’s speech at the Golden Globes, you may have seen the elated reaction by the men when she INCLUDED them as being phenomenal, and part of the solution vs lumping them all together as the problem, and this is a very powerful woman speaking. Clip from Oprah’s GG Speech
Dearest Producers, please dare to celebrate a fully actualized, mature, male heroic character who is the equal of the heroine in your show (and our beloved story). Dare to be leaders in our culture and in our media, by elevating both lead characters.
And Dearest readers, if you choose to become involved in this discussion, please take a moment to consider the feelings of the people involved, who have worked tirelessly for literally years to bring our favorite book series to life. Thank you.