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Outlander – a Netflix binge 11 July 2017

Posted by uggclogs in Life.

I recently contracted a upper respiratory infection (courtesy of my toddler) and my GP insisted I took the whole week off due to my ‘condition’ (Bub 2 was near fully cooked by that stage). I mostly felt fine apart from a cough, but used the week to catch up on some Netflix shows. 

I will warn you now SPOILERS and distressing content in this blog post.  

On the advice of a friend, I thought I should have a look at Outlander – a show she had been raving about on Facebook for a while. After my initial hesitation (time travel generally needs at least some scientific explanation in my view to suspend disbelief) with the premise of the show, I soon found myself thoroughly enjoying the story. 

It’s not exactly high brow, and at times it felt rather ‘chick lit’. Yet it was refreshing to see a story from mostly a female point of view, even the sex scenes. And there are a number of those. There was even the notion that a woman is allowed to enjoy sex (gasp) initiate sex (what?) and be on the receiving end of sex (mind blown). As in, not all sex was about the male orgasm. What a novel idea! 

And the scenery (Scotland at it’s best) the kilted men, some select nudity and lots of gorgeous accents made for pleasant viewing. 

So halfway through the first season, I contacted my good friend who put me onto the series to thank her. 

“Someone has warned you about the ending of season 1, right?” She responded. 

Blissfully ignorant, no one had. I was told it was harrowing. Traumatic. Unwatchable. Nightmare inducing. She had found it necessary to fast forward through several scenes. 

With no further information, I was a bit worried. As I had mentioned, I was in the end stages of a pregnancy and hormonal to say the least. Should I brave it? I texted a colleague at work who had been revealed to be an Outlander tragic and asked her about it – was it really that harrowing!? After all, she had read the books first, and still watched the show. 

“It is horrendous” was the response. “It really is harrowing, it’s difficult to watch.” 

By now I was so intrigued and scared to continue that I had to google the storyline. Suffice to say that the finale of season one is about the torture, rape and psychological breaking of the male main character. He is the man that we’ve slowly fallen in love with over the season and who at every turn makes either the right choice or humbly admits his mistakes. 

The man who seems able to communicate more than any man you’ve ever met, who is macho, strong, and who exudes sensuality, yet listens, is in touch with his feelings and likes a strong, opinionated woman. He’s the perfect specimen of man (and fictional). 

He gives himself to this situation in order to save his wife. 

Harrowing, yes. But was everyone so aghast at the storyline because he was a man? Rape of women for the sake of a storyline is frequently employed in television and movies (even Outlander resorts to rape of female characters as almost an aside). 

Our society struggles with rape of a strong virulent man for the sake of a story. And a strong, macho highlander such as Jamie Fraser just does not fit the bill as a victim. To me, Outlander broke some serious boundaries there – and did it well!! It was horrendous and traumatic and convincing. But after years of shows in the same vein (Game of Thrones anyone?), I found it possible to watch the scenes without further fallout. I felt for Jamie, I wanted it to stop. But I did not end up with nightmares. It is desturbing how desensitised I have become to blood guts gore and the evil of human beings. I should probably try to understand that better. 

But then came season 2. And it destroyed me completely. 

No one had thought to warn the highly pregnant woman about the stillbirth in season 2. I was sobbing through the episode, curled up in a ball, and I did not cope well. It took a long time for me to process the emotions, even now, it brings up fear and heartache. It was compellingly real and believable. If I choose to sit through outlander again, those are the scenes I will fast forward through. Too real, too many feelings. 



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