I have been trying to find a graceful way to open up this blog. Should I be eloquent and flowery or hard-hitting and humorous? I settled on being a bit all over the place – it suits my mood and my nature.
I have wanted to write about the women on Outlander for a while, I chose now because it is helping me pass the time until Season 5 airs. I figure like attracts like making this mutually beneficial.
Those who watch Outlander are exposed to women who are brave, strong, stubborn and determined. They grapple with heartbreak and persevere. They love fiercely and protect one another. Do they have flaws and imperfections? Ummmm, yeah! We all do. It’s another reason they are believable and relatable. That is what this blog is really about. How is it that we, as women in 2020 relate to these fictional women set so far in the past (mostly)?
I knew I wasn’t the only person that saw myself in these women on the screen. I was aware that this is how we stay involved and connected, or not. This made me ask those in my twitter bubble, what woman in Outlander did they relate to the most and why? The question wasn’t specifically for women to answer but no men jumped in to tell me which woman they related to, hopefully in the comments, some will. (Not who they like the most, who they relate to – just making it clear).
Gender stereotypes on television have been played to death and it’s intriguing that we have gone back to the 1700s to see them getting knocked around. Of course, we still see them in characters like Mrs. Fitz, from season 1. She was a dutiful head housekeeper to Colum. She warned Claire, if she did as told, she would gain favour with The MacKenzie. She caused no stir when her grand-daughter was about to be beaten in the great hall. Yet, she stood up to the likes of Father Bain. She ran that kitchen at Leoch like a boss and she smacked around the highlanders if they messed around in her domain. She was granted authority and demanded respect even still abiding by some of the patriarchal rules. I mean, historical accuracy is always a thing in a period drama.
That bit about Mrs. Fitz wasn’t mentioned as a part of who she was when people replied to my query on Twitter. I do love the hashtaggery.
All of these women are aware of Mrs. Fitz’s place in the Outlander universe. It is with their 21st-century lens they are able to pull her strength and fortitude forward. I don’t think they are ignoring Mrs. Fitz’s place in her 18th-century life, I believe they accept and see that Mrs. Fitz was bucking her place where and when she could without putting her life in danger. Something a great majority of women have done – for centuries. Those women hold shit together while making a difference behind the scenes, subtle changes that help push society forward. It may not be as loud and in your face as some but it still has an impact.
Jenny was a younger, stronger and higher ‘ranked’ version of Mrs. Fitz. For an 18th century woman, Jenny really did have and do it all. Career (Lady of Lallybroch for all intents and purposes), children and adoring husband. This maverick of woman could express milk and torture a dude all in the same day. Her strong personality and capabilities help today’s women feel empowered by their own image of “doing it all”.
As we read these tweets we see that these women not only relate to the character of Jenny, they can see themselves as her and she as them. Being Jenny is exhausting work. Besides taking care of everything and everyone – there were plenty of shite pots that needed stirring. 😜
Joking aside, this is why seeing representation on the screen is important. If it is powerful for someone like @ChaoticOctopus who has 6 children, imagine what it is like for women who understand what being abused and manipulated is like.
We might be surprised to know that there are women that feel a kinship with (the often slammed) Laoghaire. If we take a moment to open our hearts, minds and gather some empathy, it shouldn’t be surprised. My friends express it very well below.
Sure, some people are pure evil. I don’t think Laoghaire is one of them. She is a product of her environment and eventually, her bitterness clouds a lot of her story. This is not a Laoghaire trait. It is a human one. It isn’t a flaw that is singular to her, it is one that many of us live in. We tend to judge others for doing it instead of recognizing it in ourselves. I was humbled to see women confident enough in their own character to say they related to Laoghaire. I think many of us, whether we like to admit it or not have had the same feelings of jealousy and bitterness in our lives. Sure, we probably wouldn’t have sent someone to burn – but who knows, it’s not really an option these days either, so there is that.
There is also the fact that I don’t believe that someone truly evil would be able to raise a daughter like Marsali. She is quickly becoming one of the women on Outlander that we are falling in love with. Her character started out prickly against Claire, not shocking given the circumstances from her viewpoint. Marsali is no dummy, she feels deeply and goes by the information she has. Once she had more information, her disposition changed.
Marsali is seen as someone who is clever and uses her observations shrewdly. She doesn’t strike anyone as a wallflower. Many fans note her loyalty as one of her most relatable qualities. I believe that the way she was introduced to us showed her loyalty first and foremost but because of the way so many feel about Laoghaire, I suppose some felt it was misplaced. When we step out of our own perceptions and step into Marsali’s I think we can have empathy for her. She loves her mother. She sees her hurting and the source of her pain is caused by this woman who dropped out of the clear blue sky. Any of us thinking we would react calmly and love Claire, probably doesn’t remember being a teenage girl.
Thank goodness Marsali’s loyalties didn’t disappear, they only grew.
Season 4 brought us Marsali’s fierce loyalty to a fever pitch, do anything for family and not just along for the ride but literally in the driver’s seat on the excitement side of things. Her courage was not only entertaining to watch it was plainly setting the tone for what we have to look forward to. There is no doubt that we will have many relating to her character in season 5.
My friend Cat of @CatsandKilts was the one person who mentioned relating to Lizzie. You know the one, Lizzie, who went by exactly the information she had seen, processed what made sense and drew conclusions based on said information. Like every single person does every single day. In the Outlander universe, this always has crazy consequences. Cat is a brave fan by admitting she feels a kinship to her since Lizzie took a lot of heat last season. Which was kind of a bummer because Lizzie is so many of us, fallible and doing the best she can.
“Tries to do right tho she often fails.” I mean, how vulnerable and human is that statement? We all know how this feels but we rarely say it out loud. We all make assumptions about someone or a situation just by catching a glimpse yet we don’t always admit if we were wrong. Though if someone does this to us or someone we care about – the hell to pay – hot AF.
Another woman who made her Outlander debut was Aunt Jocasta Cameron. She was mentioned in season 1, during the Wedding when Jamie was weaving his family tree together for Claire. We finally met this formidable woman for ourselves. She made quite the impression. Some say she was a mix of Colum and Dougal, I prefer to say Colum/Dougal and Brian all borrowed pieces of HER. Cunning, determined and affectionate is the perfect Jocasta blend. There is definitely more to her than what she shows us. She is the blind one but that seems to be a subtle nod to “You can’t see me either”.
The two studies of Jo above, show us how detailed our personal lens can be when viewing characters on screen. They both relate to her for very different reasons, yet both are powerful and full of meaning. Both are also 100% accurate.
I am endlessly fascinated by women. How we relate to one another, how we lift each other up or tear one another down, the mechanics of our pasts and the trajectories of our futures. The layers/levels/shades and intricacies can’t be explained easily. Though we can see some of these dynamics when we pay attention to how we relate to one another, how we respond to one another’s personalities and the things that make us…well…us.
I was pleasantly surprised at how many identified with Brianna. I have seen some interesting assessments of Bree on social media over the years. It is my belief, the wonderful people in the tweets below…get her. They see her for who she is, why she is that way and how that makes her special. They know those traits aren’t always perfect. In truth, none of us are and nor should we be.
Perhaps some of Brianna’s qualities go unnoticed so people downplay her. I hope with these women pointing out why they relate to her, others may start to see some things they may have missed before. For instance, her creativity (not everyone can draw the way she can draw) and intelligence (engineering, need I say more?).
Bree, like her mother, chose a career that was male-dominated. Even by today’s standards, women are still underrepresented in the Engineering field. Have things gotten better since the 1960s? Of course. Are they where they should be? No. That is why we have women like Claire and Brianna to represent these themes. Hopefully, it inspires other shows to focus on POC and LGBTQ+ in these types of storylines in shows with target markets like Outlander has.
The matriarch of Outlander, as we all know is Claire. She can’t be described in a few words for the reason that she is notably complex. We have seen her as a nurse from WW2 to a stranger who was dropped into Jacobite era Scotland. She bounced through time, lovers, became a mother and eventually a grandmother. There is a dizzying amount of person there as you will see when we head to this twitter breakdown.
I don’t think I was surprised when it was she who had the largest number of people feeling they related to her. I mean, many of us really take a shine to some of those classic Claire lines.
I’m right there with Julia. The first second someone wants to control my decision making – the hackles engage. Oppositional defiance. Whatever you want to call it, I feel it in my bones. That is one of those things that will connect some of us to Claire. I mean, someone tells her “Stay here.” She hears “Runaway at the first opportunity”.
See what I mean? She does what she damn well pleases when she damn well pleases. The housework thing is mostly from the book but same – same. It wasn’t heavy-handed while reading. It was subtle and if it was something you personally identified with you would pick up on it. Which obviously, a few of us did. Imagine it was laundry day on the ridge, everyone is heaving heavy yards of linen and scrubbing in washbasins, Claire would run out of a herb and have to go traipsing through the woods. “OH NO! I ran out of cameltoes guys! George from the pond down the road needs some for his glaucoma! Biiyeeeee!”
Yes, depending on how we live our lives and the focus of our lens – we will get 2 reactions “OMG, ME TOO!” or “UGH! So selfish!” Both can be right. It comes down to empathy, understanding and kindness. It is never that black and white. We can pretend it is, so our point can be simplified and easily argued however, life and relationships rarely are that simple. That is why when those simple things are explained by a point of view, it helps us ‘get it’.
Now, we might think “I’m not the meek and obedient type” is what makes us relate to Claire. When Karen explains the WHY, she peeled back the layers and showed us. It reveals it’s not only surface ‘stuff’. The connections we have to these characters are strong and often personal. We, as fans, could be kinder to one another sometimes if we took a mental note of this.
Relating to them also brings out a desire to develop characteristics we admire. Sorcha mentions this in her tweet about Claire. It makes me grateful that we are exposed to these personalities and qualities on screen. We may see aspects of their spirit we would like to emulate, this supports our purpose to grow as individuals as we move forward and upward in our lives.
It is obvious to me that even though the men on Outlander get a lot of attention, the WOMEN OF OUTLANDER have developed profound connections with those watching. We may draw comfort from them or they may infuriate us but one thing is certain, these women are like us. They love passionately, struggle with heartbreak, lash out and experience joy.
Here is to seeing our favourites still with us (and a few more new ones) #RockTheRidge in season 5!
PS- if you didn’t get to weigh in on what women you relate to in the Outlander universe and why, please leave a comment. I would love to hear more.
PSS-Don’t forget we will be live-tweeting while watching on W Network here in Canada, using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN!
and to be perfectly honest, we’d have gone willingly. Many of us were sitting here, waiting for someone to come along and make this happen.
I recently watched a marketing clip of how to sell in today’s ‘go go go’ society and it was how all entertainment works these days. I wanted to sit down and put an Outlander spin on it.
Look, we have a little over a month left of #Droughtlander. I would like to spend it in a bubble because the real shit out there is making me tired. I need to turn it off every now and then if I want to stay relatively sane-ish.
Here were the marketing rules:
TURN CUSTOMERS INTO FANATICS – The viewers are the customers and CHECK! We are fans aka…fan addicts…fanatics.
PRODUCTS INTO OBSESSIONS – The product is the show and all the goodies that come with it. CHECK! We never miss an episode, in fact, we watch them over and over. We buy all the copies, we buy all the merch, we donate to all the charities, we attend all the events. Yep. Obsessed is a good word.
EMPLOYEES INTO AMBASSADORS – Conventions, Interviews, Social Media presence… the cast and crew that take part in these things. Those who engage. TADA! We have our ambassadors. We are tiny lil ambassadors ourselves when we RT/Share/Engage/Like.
AND BRANDS INTO RELIGIONS. Don’t scoff. Don’t laugh. People take their Outlander seriously. (If you are deeply religious – may I suggest you read the rest of this blog with your funny pants on because it is all just shits n giggles from this point on)
I have come up with 10 Outlandish commandments because I thought it would be fun and tie in, kinda…weirdly.
- I am Outlander, thy epic show, thou shalt not favour any strange shows before me.
- Thou shalt not take the name of Outlander in anger or derision.
- Keep thy home quiet during the Outlander hour.
- Honour thy Fraser’s and thy McKenzie’s.
- Thou shall not be a twitter asshole.
- Thou shalt not commit snackicide during the Outlander hour. It means what you think it means. Sicko.
- Thou shalt not verbally assault others during Outlander. Like not even a little.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. That means don’t be a gossipy Gertie, ok? Two ears, one mouth.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours Outlander stuff. Be happy for them. That shade of green doesn’t look good on anyone.
- Outlander is really just a TV show, here for thou entertainment. Enjoy the shit out of it.
ANYWAY, on the whole, the Outlander fandom does exactly what it is supposed to do according to the world of promotion and marketing.
Sony, Starz, W Network here in Canada, the cast and many of the crew all play their parts. Some don’t like how they do it, that’s a matter of taste, personalities or whatever. They will continue to do what they do for their own reasons. We don’t need to know those reasons, they do it for the success of Outlander.
The same can be said for us, the fans. We play our part. Some might not like the way we do it BUT…thats what happens in this thing called life. We feed the Outlander machine in our own way. It doesn’t matter in the big picture as long as we have fun with it. No matter if you are a twitter maven with thousands of followers, a controversial blogger that likes to debate or a fan that sits back and lurks wondering how the hell everyone keeps all of this stuff straight (I have no idea btw, I rarely remember who runs what account), we all maintain a piece of this crazy Outlander fandom.
YES. This fandom is crazy. Good crazy for the most part. Like any massive collective of people, there will be drama, infighting, cliques and subgroups. Those, however, are generally on the outlying rings.
The words ‘silent majority’ are a thing because – the majority of people who watch Outlander are silent. Outlander has a global audience that is growing every day because of streaming services, most will never bother with social media beyond a few likes or searches. It only makes sense that those who are out here with our voices try our best to use them for good. Whatever that looks like to you, go for it! Have fun with it. There are groups out there that support the actors. All the main cast members have fan groups on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Not just one but multiples. The reason being, different personalities gravitate to one another. That’s cool because you will then find people like you that love the same cast members you love.
Richard Rankin is a great example. I am sure he has a twitter handle for nearly every body part and one in every region on the planet. Example: Rankins Dimple , PLEASE do not see this as a personal challenge to create ALL of Rankin’s parts. 🤣 It could go too far.
There are great content creators that share their love of the show. Videos that blend songs with scenes, that help us relive beautiful moments. Check out Julia on YouTube if you haven’t already. She has the instinct of bringing the music and the heart of scenes together to recreate the story in another setting.
There are also edits by King Fireman on YouTube, his videos are masterful creations of scenes brought together to weave you through a retelling of the story. You need to see them in order to truly know the appeal of them.
We also have a number of fantastic bloggers. So many I couldn’t possibly name them all. I assure you there is something for everyone out there. You can easily go to your favourite blogs, check out their suggested blogs since like attracts like.
Get lost for hours on end by hitting up Pinterest. Search for Outlander fan art, quotes, memes and whatever else your wee Outlander heart desires. You will find the most amazing things along with a few that make you snort whisky out of your nose. Either way, a great way to waste an afternoon.
Ultimately, it isn’t our drama, negative nellies and infighting that get the attention of others. That kind of shit just eats and thrives on itself. It’s possible to not be a part of it if you don’t want to.
What ends up being a lightning rod is the laughter, the good time fans that run around with their t-shirts over their heads screaming about LJG and Jamie and Roger and Murtagh and and and… that get the attention. The discussions about Claire together with her fortitude. The conversations about Brianna, her rape, as a consequence the way women in the fandom connected, healed and supported one another that was truly heartwarming. Those are the things that people outside the fandom see and gravitate to.
I admit the way fans jump all over someone that merely mentions on twitter that they have watched Outlander and love it, it’s friggen adorable. It might be surprising to the person initially but think about how welcoming it is. Walking into what you think is an empty room and saying “Wow, that Outlander show was so good” then BOOM 200 people are welcoming you and telling you how wonderful it is to meet you and how you are their people.
I for one…am happy to be a cog in this Outlander wheel. As long as it is on the air, I will be out here, promoting it. You never know what will happen after.
COME ON Feb 16th, us Canadians, watching on W Network have some #OutlanderCAN tweeting to do!
Funny, the way things happen. All season I have been happily live-tweeting our #OutlanderCAN hashtag each episode as they air on W Network, here in Canada. I then ponder over each episode to try and pull something not so obvious from it. I have gotten decent feedback most of the time and am pretty proud of what I have done in both departments.
It so happens that during the airing of season 4’s finale, I ended up in the emergency department of my local health center and then whisked to the hospital for testing. What was I thinking about? Well…my imminent death or loss of a limb was first in my mind but I was also thinking about not being there to live tweet. I’m not even shitting you. I was thinking about that. So I tweeted to apologize and explain why I wouldn’t be there. Like people cared like I did. I mean, come on.
There is where the “not so obvious” for the season finale popped up for me. It’s not about you. The season finale wasn’t about me being there to live tweet or not, how important do I think I am anyway? 🙄 There were many instances I could easily say that to a character during the episode. I also find it amazing how often this happens in our every day. We tend to personalize other peoples behaviour, internalize it and make it about ourselves. We will get it in our heads that other people get up in the morning just to make ‘our‘ day more difficult. A little FYI, that usually isn’t a thing. Most peoples objective is to do things “for” themselves, not “against” someone else. This is not to say there is not collateral damage, there always is. That usually isn’t their intent.
The opening title card scene we see two young boys running around playing what they are taught to believe is an innocent child’s game of “Cowboys and Indians.” Watching is a proud Native American man that we later realize is Otter-Tooth because of the gemstone around his neck. This is not about the children, this is not about the ignorance of the systematic racism that caused us to believe this game wasn’t hurting anyone. This is about the man on the bench, the history of his people being changed and being replaced by society.
Claire, Ian and Jamie make their way into the Mohawk village looking for Roger. They know he is there. All three are trying to wheel and deal to get him back. Claire ends up with her scarf off and Otter-tooths gemstone exposed. This causes many in the tribe to gasp in fright and move away. Claire and Jamie’s first reaction is to calm them down, say they mean no harm, they want to help, to trade. Their immediate first thoughts are about what they can do for them. This isn’t about you Claire. This isn’t even about the tribe. This is about the gemstone. It is about the fear the tribe has for what that gemstone represents.
Murtagh has more than a few “this ain’t about you” buddy moments. What I found very interesting was it was Ulysses that silently gave him a lesson. Murtagh and Jocasta are discussing Brianna’s impending marriage to LJG. Which, Murtagh is taking very personally. There was one point when the discussion between Jocasta and Murtagh went from curt to argumentative. We could only see Ulysses’s hands- he went from gently holding them in front of him to loose fists at his side. Signalling protection. When Jocasta decides to leave Murtagh to his food, Ulysses takes her arm and offers Murtagh his assistance but with a very curt manner, the extra eyebrow added all we needed to know in this scene. Jocasta and Ulysses were letting Murtagh know Brianna’s future…not about you dude. Little did they know…it wasn’t about them either.
Going back to Otter-tooth for a little bit. I know people get upset about the story here, about his message of killing all the white people, of the war he wanted to lead in order to save his people. It upsets me too but maybe for different reasons. It upsets me because it would seem like the logical thing to do if I were in his place. If I were to be 100% honest with myself, which is not an easy task in any event, what he was saying would be the most effective way to save his people. It’s brutal and it is ugly, so is what the Native Americans and First Nations people of North America went through because of colonization. So, for this one. It’s not about you. Or me. Or any of the people Otter-tooth wanted to save his people and his history from. It was about the Mohawk and what they ultimately went through.
We finally get to Roger. Finally. Naturally, there is this crazy “no take-backsies” going on but since trading seems to be the currency in all things, even peopley things, Jamie offers himself up. Young Ian goes to work something out, in this, he thinks he is a better deal than the old gingersnap. Jamie is caught off guard, assumes he will rescue Ian away or Young Ian will escape when Ian shuts him down. This isn’t about you Uncle Jamie. Young Ian swore to the Mohawk, he gave them his word. He would stay with them, in return, Roger could go with Jamie and Claire, back to Brianna. Sweet Young Ian was taking responsibility for his actions as well as making a choice for his future. One that didn’t have anything to do with anyone else. Sometimes the choices others make can hurt us but they aren’t making them ‘to‘ hurt us. We have to be aware of that.
So, off goes Roger with Claire and Jamie. The first opportunity he gets to put a beating on Jamie, he takes it. I don’t blame him in the least. Apparently, neither does Jamie. Claire tries to stop him but Jamie knows, this is what Roger needs right now. I believe Jamie also wants Roger to let loose on him. His form of penance so to speak. In a way, Jamie is making Roger’s rage about him in order to rid himself of some of the guilt he feels over what he has done. Error in judgement or not, he owns it, as he should.
When Roger doesn’t go back with them to River Run right away, I don’t think it about the news that Brianna’s baby is possibly Bonnet’s. I think it is more about staying in the past. This has never been the plan. This is a new thing. It not just about Roger and Bree and their future anymore. It is about being a family in a completely different time. It is about living in a family with a man that damn near beat you to death and sold you to the Mohawk. It’s about living in a time when your wife was raped. This is a dangerous world and making the choice to live there. Making a choice like that without taking a moment to think would be doing a disservice to yourself and to the one you love. Not to mention all the people that will end up in your life as you move forward. This is a case of it’s not just about you.
Brianna was the one that was the victim of so much “It’s not about you” that it was painful to watch. Only because she did personalize so much of it. I was thankful that the birthing scene was Bree focused. It showed her strength, tenacity, ability and her dedication to doing this thing on her own when everything came down to it. Yes, she had her aunt there, her friends but ultimately, giving birth is about a mother and her child. There is no need a secondary narrative to focus on there. When Bree held her son for the first time, this story became about him now. That was her choice. Her love for him shone through.
When Claire and Jamie arrived back at River Run without Roger, the look that came over Bree’s face when she realized he wasn’t with them was pure heartache. It wasn’t about her but we all do what Bree did. She was personalizing Roger not coming back. Very likely creating a story in her head to match the pain she was feeling. It is such a common mechanism for us humans and so often our imaginations don’t match the reality. We replay other peoples choices like we have control over them. It is this weird dance we do. If I had done a, b or c. Only, it doesn’t work like that because they will always make the choices they want to no matter what we do. Roger does return to her though, as I knew he would. He returns to claim her as his wife and the baby as his son. It isn’t about any one person, it becomes about them as a family.
As Red Coats come riding up to River Run everyone assumes they are after Murtagh because he is, after all, the local fugitive in hiding. Jocasta and Murtagh share a little tête-à-tête that both Claire and Jamie witness and share their WTF faces. It’s ok guys, THIS little love affair…isn’t about you, so step off. Aunty Jo is getting herself some Silver Foxtail on the side and won’t be listening to any of your nonsense about it.
Last and certainly not least is the not so love letter from Governor Tryon. Jamie is expected to follow his beck and call. In this case, that means whippin’ up a militia and hunting down and killing Murtagh.
Well, Tryon, I know he likes to think everyone is just clamouring to serve him and his brilliant red coat wearing English army but here is the thing, they aren’t. No matter what Jamie’s obligation is to him we know that Jamie’s first obligation is to his family. It always has been and will be. Gov. Tryon happens to think this whole Regulator thing is me against them. That is where he is wrong. The Regulators have said from the start, they are more than willing to pay taxes, they are not willing to pay for the elites shitty castles and corruption. Plain as day, Gov. Tryon. Not. About. You. It’s about the people he is supposed to be helping. If he were to take the same amount of time he takes to fight them and listen to them instead, he might learn from them. Even this shows us we often make up our minds because we feel attacked when someone disagrees with us. Instead of listening we react. So much can be lost when all of that noise is happening.
Imagine. 13 weeks of Outlander is already gone. POOF! I absolutely loved this season. Every episode I enjoyed for different reasons and I was able to learn a little something in the hidden corners that helped me realize the writers, directors, cast and crew give so much to it. Still, Outlander isn’t about me.
It’s about so many people. Too many people to ever keep track of or make happy and that’s o.k. too. Want to know why? That is what makes life interesting. We can have animated conversations. We can discuss what we love, what we don’t and the things we missed and maybe why we think things were done the way they were. What I think the secret might be is respecting one another’s views and opinions as just that. Personal opinions based on personal experiences. They don’t have to assume someone else’s intent or be presented as facts. We can have fun with it because when it comes down to it, this thing called Outlander is a TV show that is created for our entertainment. It is supposed to bring up emotions. All of them. That is what makes great TV.
I’m not going to stop blogging over #Droughtlander, granted, I probably won’t do one once a week. I hope that we can keep each other company, stay engaged and not lose focus of what brought us together in the first place. A great story.
Sher (Founder of the #ABOotlanders)