Outlander, based off the book series of the same name written by Diana Gabaldon, is a historical romance with a sprinkling of science fiction and liberal splashes of shock the color of claret. If you’re squeamish or faint of heart, this show is absolutely not for you. Otherwise, you owe yourself the pleasure of being immersed in a world of equal parts beauty and horror.
The plot revolves around Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), a nurse who is on her second honeymoon with her loving husband Frank (Tobias Menzies) in the year 1945. After being separated for five years, they sojourn to Inverness, Scotland. Hearing about the pagan rituals that take place at the stones of Craigh na Dun, Claire obliges her husband and travels with him to this purportedly magical location. Claire later returns to the stones by herself, and after a mishap, is transported to 1743. Soon after, she meets the villainous Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies, pulling double duty), who freakishly looks almost identical to her husband. She is rescued by the clan Mackenzie and is taken along on their journey. She soon meets Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), a strapping Highlander who changes her entire world view and exposes her to an entirely new way of life.
I dare you to not fall in love with Claire and Jamie. Claire is a strong, independent woman. She refuses to bow down to any man, and she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself. Jamie is practically the perfect man, and it’s pretty much impossible to not fall in love with him. Together, they’re an earth-shattering force to be reckoned with.
Outlander is a stunning television show. Scotland is an absolutely breathtaking setting, and you’ll often feel like you’re there standing beside Claire as she acclimates to this strange new world. The costume design is to die for, and the soundtrack is superb. Each actor is fantastic and brings life to their respective characters. You genuinely care for/despise these characters. Outlander doesn’t skimp on showing the ugly side of war, love, and family, though. Injuries are shown in their full, grotesque glory, and sex is portrayed as both an act of love and as a means of torture.
There are major content warnings: rape, abuse, and PTSD are addressed and explicitly portrayed. Outlander isn’t afraid to push boundaries, and an extreme word of caution is issued. This is a beautiful, essential work of art, but is absolutely not for everyone. If you are able to watch it, you won’t regret becoming absorbed in this masterpiece. It’s gripping, thought-provoking material.
Outlander airs on Starz and is available to watch on Amazon Prime for an additional fee.
Season 1 trailer: