They say it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind although I don’t know if it’s my prerogative or if I’m just wishy-washy, but I confess that I have once again changed my mind.
As usual, it’s about Outlander. After the final episode aired, I wrote a blog stating my disappointment that important parts of the book were left out of the series. Truthfully, there are still a few parts I wish had been included and a couple I wish hadn’t been added #DidSomeoneMentionFrankAndTheFightInTheAlley? But since the last episode aired, several things have happened that changed my mind.
1) I visited with a friend who for years was the only other person I knew who adored the Outlander books. She and her husband decided to wait for the first eight episodes to come out on video and binge watch them in one day. When we discussed her feelings about the show, she was overwhelmingly thrilled with ALL the changes to the book. She said watching the episodes one after the other was incredibly exciting, and she thought the series was perfection. Listening to her describe her experience and watching her face light up made me feel a little sad that I’ll never have that kind of Outlander experience and I’ll always wonder what that would’ve been like.
2) After hearing of my friend’s experience, I went back and re-watched episodes One through Four in chronological order. I can’t erase my original viewing experience which was amazing, but my mini-binge of these episodes was a completely different experience than watching an episode and then waiting a week. Seeing Jamie and Claire’s relationship unfold organically brought me to the realization that my impatience to see them as a couple caused me to ‘rush’ through the original experience. I now wish I had savored more and rushed less.
3) I watched Episode 16 while listening to Ron Moore and Ira Behr’s podcast. This was where I had my biggest Oprah ‘Aha’ moment. They talked about why they added scenes, including the scene where Claire says goodbye to Rupert, Angus and Willie. Since we won’t be seeing them for a long time, they felt we needed closure and I realized they were right. Other scenes were written that were not included due to time constraints and those also made sense to me. I do wish they had extended Jamie’s recovery because it felt rushed and there were several lines that were left out, but overall, I loved it which you can see from the overuse of memes and overall frenzied excitement in my re-cap. And not that they owe me any reasons, but I now more fully understand their process.
My eyes opened and I began to realize that Outlander is truly an adaptation. The dictionary says that an adaptation is ‘a form or structure modified to fit a changed environment.’ As intelligent people who use cutlery on a regular basis, we all know that books and television programs are very different mediums. When we read, we process books in our minds and none of us sees it exactly the same as the next person. When the TV show airs and each scene isn’t the the way we think it should be, some folks get upset and I understand that. But those in charge can’t make different versions for each of us, and non book readers need to understand what’s happening too. In times like this I usually turn to the philosopher Mick Jagger who tells us, ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want.’ But if you try sometimes, well you might find, you get what you need.
My first book to screen adaptation experience was ‘Gone With The Wind’ which is one of the best known book-to-film adaptations in history. I read the book the summer before my senior year of high school. As a book nerd and long before cosplay, I would like to share exactly HOW I read it…in Connecticut, not in The South. Each morning I donned a reproduction ruffly, floor length southern belle gown and a floppy, picture hat. I spread an old quilt on the grass underneath our apple tree and with a tray of ice water with limes (faux mint juleps) at my side, I read the book. I adored the book and was lost in my own little world. Fast forward to my first year of college in Boston when I found out an old, beautiful theater was going to show ‘Gone With The Wind’ on a huge screen. It was my first time to see the movie and it was amazing to see the characters come to life, but… it was very different from the book. In the movie, Scarlett is portrayed as a gorgeous airhead who for undisclosed reasons is in love with the wimpy Ashley Wilkes rather than the hunky Rhett Butler. The book Scarlett is much more neurotic and has undiagnosed mental issues. Both the book and the movie were beloved, but one was an adaptation of the other.
I’ve begun to take into account that people who haven’t read the book wouldn’t understand certain relationships or motivations so these things need to be shown to them in a different way. It’s not as though Starz can force every viewer to read the book prior to adding the network to their cable channels. #OrCanThey? I’ve spoken to several non-book readers and they are passionate in their love of the series and either don’t know or don’t care what’s missing. And their experience is just as valid as mine.
In the Outlander book world, there seem to be as MANY differing opinions about the adaptation as there are readers. Some viewers disliked ‘The Search’ as they felt it went on too long. I loved ‘The Search’, especially loved the expanded scenes of Claire singing and Murtagh dancing in village after village. For me it could’ve gone on for another hour. The bottom line is I don’t think there is a way to satisfy everyone. It sounds cliche’, but I think we have to trust that the people who bring us the show will do their jobs to the best of their ability. Yes, some viewers may still complain about the little details they think are missing, but I don’t think there’s anyone out there who could do a better job. So, when Season 2 comes around in 2075, I will be there with my eyes open, my popcorn popped and my notepad at my side ready to blog again and hopefully there will be a little bit less Frank.