I have worked with many amazing people over the years, but rarely have I worked with anyone as cohesively as I do with Kimothy. We have made two successful short films together as co-writers, so when I needed an extra pair of hands (and set of opinions) writing Kickass TV Heroines, he was the first person I turned to. Kimothy has a unique way of seeing things which influences all he creates, and I am incredibly lucky to be able to feature it in both my films and my blog.
In this post, he discusses the female lead of his favourite show, Outlander.
Name: Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser
Location: Scotland, France, Scotland again, Boston, Scotland AGAIN and The West Indies (She gets around…geographically speaking.)
TV Show: Outlander
Actor: Caitriona Balfe
“Sing me a song of a lass that is gone
Say, could that lass be I?
Merry of soul she sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye”
This is the second (or third, depending on how you count drafts) version of this post that I’ve written. The first version was the one I wanted to write when I was first approached about writing a guest post on Claire. It was an arrogant statement about the way that we view characters as people when they are in fact not, and how the characters we refer to as “strong” are often less so when “strength” refers to the depth and complexity of how they are written and portrayed. That’s not to say that these ideas were wrong or not worth examining, but they were presented in a way that was…well…arrogant.
I’ve always had a…shall we say…conflicted? relationship with art criticism. On the one hand, we have the age-old argument that “art is subjective”, but on the other hand, we are able to point to specifics that make a work “good” or “bad” by some sort of culturally agreed upon metric. Now, saying that “art is subjective” is not a particularly new or interesting thought, but people are weird and fickle, often we love stories that are by critical consensus considered bad or hate those that are considered good.
The point that I’m getting to (in my own, somewhat long-winded way) is that my first version of this post, which was supposed to be a celebration of one of my favourite characters from my favourite TV show, instead became a haughty examination of Claire’s writing and portrayal without expressing any of the love and joy I have for both the character and the show and some of the weird and fickle reasons for that love and joy. Because I genuinely adore Outlander. It is (as I said about a sentence ago) my favourite TV show. But here’s the thing, I’m not sure it’s the best TV show. I think it’s very good (even great), but it’s not without its flaws…and yet I still adore every minute of it, because being good means nothing if I don’t care.
There’s a part of me that just wants to turn the rest of this post into a copy/paste of me writing “HOLY FUCK, I LOVE OUTLANDER SO MUCH!!!” over and over again, but I also realise that I’ve gone three paragraphs talking about me and barely mentioned Claire. Which is stupid, because I love Claire, she makes me care, but I’m also having a hard time trying to express why. So this is where we come back to “art is subjective” and “people are weird and fickle”, because some of the reasons I love Claire ARE subjective and weird and fickle, like the fact that her go-to curse is “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!” I find it endearing and hilarious every time she says it and it makes me love her even more despite being a relatively minor detail.
Wait, let’s back up…some of you may not know Outlander or what it’s about and are now wondering “who the fuck is Claire and what is going on and can I get some goddamn context please?” Well, here we go…Claire is a WWII combat nurse (who was raised by her archaeologist uncle…another great, minor detail that I love) who time-travels through a stone circle in Scotland and finds herself 200 years in the past. Whilst there she meets and falls in love with a gorgeous highlander named James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser (Jamie for short) and despite her being married to another man in her present (he’s called Frank, he’s actually quite lovely) she marries Jamie (though the marriage is largely to keep her out of the hands of the redcoats who want to “rescue” her) and many adventures ensue.
On the surface, it’s a Mills & Boon-esque romantic fantasy, but the show creates something much greater and epic by making the story of Claire more than just a simple romance (even if the romance is still the heart of it). It elevates Claire to a heroine who does more than swoon and gets swept off her feet and it’s not just because she’s strong-willed, but also because she’s sometimes not. There is an emotional weight to the moments when Claire shows her strength because we know she’s not just being strong because she just is strong, but because she’s making the choice to be strong. We know because we see the moments when she’s not strong…aaand I’m starting to feel like I need a thesaurus so I stop writing “strong” so much…anyway, watching Claire take charge of a situation and put the men around her in their place (something that happens often in the course of the show) feels meaningful because we’ve seen times when she’s been too scared to do so. Knowing that she’s overcoming something within herself gives her choice that weight and meaning.
But also Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan (who plays Jamie) are both fucking gorgeous and watching two beautiful romantic leads make out and get sexy with each other is great. Claire is a character that appeals to both my superficial side (She’s gorgeous and says “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!” and is a time-travelling WWII nurse who was raised by an archaeologist and I still can’t quite get over how awesome I think that is) and my craves-depth-and-complexity side (her strength, her lack of strength and a whole host of other things that I didn’t talk about in hopes of keeping this post to a reasonable length) and Outlander is a show that appeals to both my superficial side (the one that wants to watch pretty people do things in pretty pictures with pretty music playing) and my craves-depth-and-complexity side (the romance between Claire and Jamie which is far more than just star-crossed lovers and actually feels like an honest-to-god real relationship) and HOLY FUCK, I LOVE OUTLANDER SO MUCH!!!
“Billow and breeze, islands and seas
Mountains of rain and sun
All that was good, all that was fair
All that was me is gone”
If you are interested in seeing more of Kimothy Gohlich’s work, please check out his intermittently used Twitter.