I’m Actually Adapting to the Adaptation of Outlander and Here Are My Reasons Why Including my Nerd Confessions!

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.

17 thoughts on “I’m Actually Adapting to the Adaptation of Outlander and Here Are My Reasons Why Including my Nerd Confessions!

  1. Very good point! I’ve realized that RDM’s writers can & will never make each & single book reader happy. I still prefer for them to not add any other characters ((Tarry Mc) or introduce a separate story-arc (The Watch) & then not go any where with it. The book really has enough character & story lines to fill whole Season of shows. Again, that’s just me

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  2. I’m really happy to read this! First, I think you hit the nail on the head with discussing adaptations. It is SO hard discussing WHY the changes happen & that it’s okay to love both. Which takes me to the second point. An passionate book reader watching their “baby” be adapted can sometimes feel like a child of divorce. You want to like both, no reason why you shouldn’t, but being alright with changes can sometimes feel like a betrayal. Does this mean the other is invalidated? Do you have the right to like them both equally? Is their a way to combine the two? All these race through my head. Another point I like to raise, which I did in Beth Wesson’s blog, deals with reaction. I think you first feelings were perfectly natural…. When “Game of Thrones” was first airing the creators stuck VERY close to the source, they only started diverging once they had gained the viewer’s trust. You didn’t have that experience, so all these changes came with a mixed bag of emotions. I’m so pleased to see you re-evaluating and rediscovering the show. I started watched watching the night before “The Devil’s Mark” aired and within 48 hours had binged all 11 episodes and re watched the series several times now. Bravo Melissa on a lovely piece of self reflection & explanation of such a personal struggle for us, the voracious reader.

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    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply which among other things makes me wish, yet again, that I could watch GOT, but I can’t get past the violence. It’s just too much for me. I ❤️ Beth Wesson, that woman feels the feelz and knows how to share it. I was afraid at first to admit I changed my mind for fear of being labeled wishy-washy, but if your mind’s not open, how can you grow? Thanks so much for writing.

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      • I’ve tried time and time again to watch GOT at my sons urging but just can’t get into it. I hate the violence and can’t relate to the characters. My daughter and I just say to him – ” no thanks we have our Outlander. “. I’m really hoping that now I’m reading the books following on from season 2 , my love of the tv show won’t change because of them. I don’t usually change horses mid stream so I feel I’m taking a risk because I’m impatient.

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  3. Great insight. I have read the books (over and over) and have decided to enjoy the show on it’s own merits. Really tired of all the complaining. It is wonderful to see our beloved characters come to life on the tv.

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    • I agree with you. Even though I’ve missed some scenes (swirling plaid and leaches), I’m a grown-up and realize they need to work within a budget, etc. I hope most of my complaining was to my husband or dog (I forced the dog to watch the final 2 episodes, he loved the cows), because I’m thrilled with the series and can’t wait for MORE!

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      • I read that they tried to do the leeches. Apparently it was pretty hysterical. They tried to use black licorice on Jamie’s face, since the leeches wouldn’t latch on to the prosthetics. Every glue they tried just melted the licorice, and they kept sliding down Sam’s face. The live leeches kept slithering out of the jar, across the table, and on to the floor. They had to keep yelling to watch out for the live leeches on the floor and the melted licorice on the table. They finally gave up and just skipped it 🙂

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  4. 2075! Crap, I’ll be 114!
    I like that term – adaptation or “based on” which means not necessarily equal to in every way. Yeah, I missed some book things but also loved the Frank searching for Claire. Overall, I’d say I’m 98% satisfied which is a pretty awesome score for Sam, Cat, Tom, Bear, et al.

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  5. I always look forward to your commentary! It is going to be a long wait until Season II. Please post commentary regularly until our wonderful series begins again. Blessings .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Dot. I look forward to your comments, so we’re even! I will definitely be posting more through out the Outlander Drought. It’s much more fun than talking to myself and a little bit more sane too! 😄

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  6. Loved this blog post, especially in light of the crap that’s been happening on twitter. I think you better prepare for more Frank though (which I’m sure you already know.) That will also help lessen any disappointment. It’s sure to be an interesting season for us all! 🙂

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    • I’m not exactly sure what you mean by the Twitter comment, but maybe it’s better if I don’t. I think I’m happier in the dark, so don’t tell me, lol! Thanks for your comments, I really appreciate you taking the time to write. P. S. And I don’t mind Frank as much as I mind all the extraaaa Fraaaaaaank….I think book Frank is a complicated and somewhat honorable man.

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