Last week I had the flu. I had a fever, a running nose, terrible sore throat, a cough and a headache. You get the picture…actually don’t get the picture, it wasn’t pretty! It was in this state, bedridden and slightly delirious, that I decided to start watching a new show, Outlander. The Starz Original series premiered in 2014. Season One has 16 slated episodes, eight of which have already been aired. The remaining 8 are due to be aired later in 2015, and a second season has been ordered.
When I first heard the name ‘Outlander’ my mind instinctively thought of ‘Highlander’. And I wasn’t that far off. Outlander is based on the Outlander book series by Diana Gabaldon who, as it turns out, is not Scottish. (This comment will make more sense further down.) The story is simple. Clare, a British Army nurse, has survived World War II and is setting off to the Scottish Highlands for her second honeymoon with her husband, Frank. The two hang around Inverness while Frank investigates his ancestry. One night, they observe a ritual of some sort performed by Druids at Craigh na Dun, a circle of standing stones.
The next day Clare revisits the site in search of a plant. Great thinking, woman! Anyway, the rocks of Craigh na Dun somehow transport Clare back in time, and she is suddenly surrounded by Redcoats and Highlanders shooting at each other in 1743. Soon after, Clare meets dashing young Highlander Jamie Fraser and gets mixed up in the affairs of Clan MacKenzie and a potential Jacobite Rebellion. The rest of the plot follows Clare’s efforts to survive 18th-century Scotland while searching for a way to return to her husband and the 20th century. Or not…
I can’t really say that I love or hate Outlander. I’ll stick to: “I liked it enough to watch all 8 episodes in one day.” Some things, however, made quite an impression. Firstly, entire dialogues are in Gaelic. My academic training simply won’t allow me to skip over that. And I have one thing to say: Kudos to whoever decided to use so much Gaelic in the show! I can’t understand a thing, but 10 points for cultural heritage! And honestly, Gaelic makes the setting more credible. So more kudos for authenticity!
What stuck with me most, was the presence of so many Scottish men in kilts! With Scottish accents! And kilts! I actually told a friend that if someone asked me to describe Outlander I would say “Lots of Scottish guys in kilts!” I hope that is in no way culturally insensitive. After this outburst I concluded that I am suffering from a severe case of Scottish nostalgia. Which is fairly logical considering I spent a year in Edinburgh. Outlander actually got me thinking, why on earth did I leave Scotland in the first place!? I’m seriously debating moving back to where I can be closer to Scottish guys with Scottish accents and kilts! And now I am fan-girling over Scottish guys in kilts! Am I saying ‘Scottish’ too much?
Back to my point. I can’t speak for the books, but I believe Outlander is worth your time. Especially if you miss Scotland as much as I do. It will give you a taste of the breathtaking scenery that are the Highlands and perhaps a view of the Clan way of life.
Now that I think about it, Outlander has it all. It is a pleasant mixture of history, fantasy and science fiction (turns out you don’t need a TARDIS to travel in time!) as well as romance, love triangles, violence, politics, betrayals and a sufficient amount of nudity to please all eyes! I guess I could go as far as calling it the Scottish Game of Thrones! (Is it just me, or are we comparing everything to Game of Thrones these days?) And if you, like me, get overly excited by the prospect of Scottish men in kilts, then Outlander is definitely the show for you.
Fair warning! If you are not accustomed to Scottish accents and speech, you are more than likely to need subtitles to keep up! And, yes, I wrote most of this thing in my head with a Scottish accent…