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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Outlander is an intense period drama based on a popular series of romance novels and features frequent, graphic sex. Expect bared body parts, moaning, thrusting, and discussion of infidelity. The series takes place in a historical wartime setting with plentiful battlefield scenes and very gory injuries, with squirting blood, internal organs, and soldiers screaming in pain. Mild curses are infrequent, but a character frequently utters "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ," which some might find offensive.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In the Scottish Highlands where her husband takes her for a second honeymoon, former WWII nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) is an OUTLANDER, an English woman in a place where the locals have a rather complicated history with the English. She finds out about this history firsthand when she's investigating the medicinal plants in a mysterious location her historian husband Frank (Tobias Menzies) is researching. She hears a buzzing sound...and she experiences the sensation of falling through glass. When she awakes, she's traveled back through time, to 18th-century Scotland where a group of native rebels are battling the hated British Army. Alone and with nothing, Claire must find her way. Thankfully, at least one of the rebels, handsome soldier Jamie MacTavish (Sam Heughan), seems willing to help her feel at home in this strange, new (or is it old?) land.
Is it any good?
The Outlander series of novels has been reliably standing its readers' hairs on end since the early 1990s, and ardent fans can breathe a sigh of relief: This is a faithful and wonderful adaptation of rich and beloved source material. The casting is particularly choice, with a brooding light/dark Jamie with magnetism, a sweet and sexy Frank, and, best of all, the sumptuous Caitriona Balfe as Claire. She's as strong, compelling, and interesting as the Claire realized in Diana Gabaldon's book series, a woman of sulks and rages and a childlike sense of fun. She's a complicated woman, in a medium that doesn't often feature complicated women.
Thus, women in particular likely will be drawn to Outlander, with the juicy internal conflict Claire faces: Is it OK to get comfy in the 18th century with Jamie when her real husband, Frank, is waiting for her back in the present day? Will she ever get back there? Why is she here, anyway? This could all be eye-rollingly silly stuff, but, with dialogue and scenes lifted directly from the terrific novels and compelling actors emoting, Outlander is the very best kind of television (for adults, at least): quality that's also an addictive pleasure.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about who Outlander is aimed at. Teenagers? People in their 80s? People of another age? Men? Women? Children? How can you tell?
The main character in Outlander is Claire Randall, a woman. Is it typical that a woman is the lead character on a TV drama? What are some other shows that center on one woman? How are they like Outlander? How are they different?
Where do you think Outlander was shot? Was it shot, as the majority of shows are, in a studio in Los Angeles? How can you tell? What does it add to the show to have realistic outdoor footage?
For kids who love romance
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.