Developed by Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Ronald D. Moore, Starz’s time-travel series Outlander is an engrossing mash-up of sci-fi/fantasy and historical fiction, along with a heavy dose of sex for adult viewers to enjoy. It’s a centuries-spanning swashbuckler set against a backdrop of bloody wars, perilous voyages across land and sea, and one family’s migration from the Scottish Highlands to the New World.
At the heart of the show is the steamy romance between Claire Randall, a married nurse from the 20th century magically transported back in time to the Scottish Highlands in the 1740s, and Jamie Fraser, a Jacobite sympathizer with a high tolerance for pain and whisky.Claire’s journey to get home to her own time and husband Frank is not an easy one, as she finds herself trapped in Scotland for years while conflict brews between the Highland clans and the English crown. Claire ends up having to marry the honorable rogue Jamie, who bears the scars of English punishment across his back. Slowly but surely, Claire and Jamie fall madly in love as they are pulled deeper into the historic uprising that will see the Gaelic culture of the Highlands extinguished.
Claire’s conflicted loyalties between Jamie and Frank produce a lot of the dramatic tension in the show’s first two seasons. Outlander separates and reunites Claire and Jamie — sometimes for years — but the show leans into the notion that time will eventually reunite people — even sworn enemies — until their destinies are resolved. Outlander also doesn’t shy away from the crueler, less noble aspects of these periods in history, and the show has been daring in its handling of its more provocative and troubling subject matter. Claire — whose true identity as a 20th century woman in the 18th century is known only to a few — and Jamie attempt to course-correct history and right some wrongs, but these don’t prove easy to accomplish.Although anchored by its strong leads Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, Outlander has boasted noteworthy performances by a fine ensemble during its run, most notably from Tobias Menzies (in dual roles!), Graham McTavish, Duncan Lacroix, David Berry, and Andrew Gower. These actors (and the writers) imbue their supporting characters, both friend and foe, with enough shades of grey to make you understand them. In Outlander, all of the characters are complicated and deeply considered.
Outlander offers viewers an escape to beautiful locations, lusty romances (seriously, there’s a lot of sex in this show), brutal vendettas, political intrigue, big battles, and, of course, time-travel. If you like Vikings, Braveheart, Game of Thrones, Outlaw King, Rob Roy, and the like then Outlander should be the next program you add to your queue. Sláinte!The Best TV Shows of the Decade (2010-2019)
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