For those like myself who find the concept of time travel intriguing and mysterious, the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon streaming on Netflix and Starz does not disappoint. Can time travel only be happening in movies? Can a time traveler change history and, if so, how would we know? I have watched my fair share of time travel films, but this one takes the cake. It is truly an epic story of relentless love, violence, survival, war and much much more. Romance, passion and adventure are the primary drivers of what makes this series so sexy and captivating that you immediately become invested in the characters of Claire and Jamie. What is even more appealing, it is based on history as we know it, starting with the ending of World War II in 1945 and 200 hundred years later (1743) in Scotland, and then in America during the 1960s and early 1760s.
Claire and Jamie
First, let me share a bit about the two principal characters (who are amazing actors) starting with Claire (Caitriona Balfesince). It is her voice that narrates this journey that you become intoxicated with. Kudos to Diana for making Claire an attractive, intelligent, feisty, persuasive woman who easily gets into trouble. She does not take no for an answer in an uncivilized world for women where she is both feared and loved.
A British army nurse, Claire Randall, is vacationing with her hubby Frank (Tobias Menzies), reunited after the war, visiting the Highlands in Scotland. Her curiosity led her to these sacred stones. She mistakenly touches one of the stones that takes her into the 18th century during a time of conflict between the Scots and the British. In this new, strange and ancient world, Claire must learn to survive. She becomes a healer, eventually falling in love with a younger man (Jamie) which started as an arranged marriage offering us some intense and sexy scenes.
Jamie (Sam Heughan) is a tall handsome outlaw warrior with piercing hazel eyes, a perfectly chiseled face, a mop of red hair and a body to die for (lucky Claire). His humanity, along with his openness to accept Claire for who she is regardless of being immersed in a male dominant culture, makes him the perfect “10”.
Beyond these two charismatic lovers, there are many strong and vibrant male and female characters in this series, with so many layers of storytelling. These stories visually present us with a disturbing picture of what life in the 18th century was like. There are distressing graphic scenes of sexual violence, torture and war that at times I found hard to view and literally had to take a break from bingeing to reduce my anxiety from watching the show.
I became enamored with the commitment of these two lovers to overcome all that was thrown at them as they try to change the unavoidable. A war that eventually separated them, forcing Claire to pass through the stones, returning to her husband, but this time very pregnant. The producers of this series do an uncanny job of recounting the lives of these lovers living in separate worlds apart for 20 years, until Claire decides again to pass through the stones, this time to stay. Both a bit older but with the same chemistry and adventurous spirit offering us many more twisted storytelling plots. Their complicated lives unwittingly take them to the newly discovered world of America controlled by the Brits with even more drama as they are gradually pulled into the American Revolution.
Besides the diversity of characters, there are so many unique elements in the production of this series that are spellbinding, starting with the scenery. The scenes of the Scottish Highlands, the many castles, ports and century old cities, including Paris and then later America, are stunning. For me, it is the costumes that are most intriguing of both men and women, especially those worn by men. Men were such fashion plates in those days with their long hair and wigs. The plaid kilts especially grow on you as they are perfectly tailored, with layers of fabric and ornaments. The costumes are an integral part of the storytelling and kudos to the costume designer for committing to such memorable details.