1 "It’s a big old yarn that we’re telling here", (It’s a big old yarn we’re telling here) is how Ronald D. Moore, Outlander’s producer and screenwriter (Starz, 2014-) defines his serial adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s hit eponymous novel. The term yarn usually refers to both the thread of weaving and a long and hard-to-believe adventure story.
The starting point of the plot is the following: Claire Beauchamp, an English nurse from 1945, is propelled into the Jacobite Scotland of 1743. She will have to adapt to survive and hope to return to her time and a husband waiting for her. She will have to marry a young Highlander of the eighteenth century, a decisive meeting that will change everything. With four seasons in the United States, the British-American series Outlander achieved notable popular and critical success. She has been nominated three times for the 2016 Golden Globes in the categories of Best Drama, Best Actress (Caitriona Balfe), and Best Male Supporting Actress (Tobias Menzie). In 2017, it was the second most watched series by women behind Game of Thrones (HBO, 2011-2019).
2 Outlander is a relevant case study to explore how the serial format shows the character’s consistency. The emotional weaving of the character is built on the duration of the feuilletonesque series where each episode participates in its stretching. To take up the image of the weave explained by Hélène Breda, the point of view and the gestures of the character form a "narrative thread that will mingle with the other characters according to the actions of each one, thus forming narrative motifs".
3 The serial format allows both to rationalize rich and sometimes disjointed content and to intensify the narration to better show the facets of the character. The linearity of the main plot based on Claire’s character is only apparent. If recourse to the single narrative focus is systematized, this uniqueness is diverted: ultimately, it is through fragmentation and the multiple that Claire’s emotional weaving is built. The prevalence of the feminine gaze and the revisit of the sci-fi genre constitute two lines of force in the Outlander series. Just as in Battlestar Galactica (Sci Fi, 2003-2009), Moore engages the viewer to enjoy repeated immersion in a lost world (Jacobite Scotland) but recreated, likely to return him to his own reality and question it. There is in Claire’s gaze an authenticity that refers to the sphere of intimacy. Outlander takes a new step in telling the truth about the female character (sexuality, motherhood, trauma) compared to the series of the 1990s and 2000s. Unlike Quantum Code (NBC, 1989-1993) or more recently Timeless (NBC, 2016-2018), the purpose of the characters is not so much to change the course of events as to live with them.
4 We will first see how the truth of the character is given to be seen by the establishment of a tension between a single narrative focus and a perpetual blurring of markers. The second part will analyze the development of the female character within the matrix of the couple formed by Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser. Finally we will enter the analysis in the framework of fan studies to study the reception of the character of Claire outside the text, taking into account the action of the internal agents (producers, writers, actors) and external (fan communities) of the series.
I. Establishing the character’s consistency between interference and stability
I.1 Interference with Landmarks
5 The jamming of landmarks is cleverly orchestrated throughout the Outlander series. The initial plot is based on an unexplained journey through time for both Claire and the viewer. Confronted with multiple trials, the character of Claire grows. The serial adaptation works all the better as Moore has grasped and emphasized the approach of Diana Gabaldon. He plays with genre codes (history, romance and science fiction) and blurs the tracks of the plot to shake up the characters and spectators. Gabaldon’s original literary material is unclassifiable because it is not a sentimental novel in the strict sense of the term and has no novum that makes it possible to identify it as a work of science fiction. Time travel is quickly relegated to the rank of pretext. Science fiction disappears to put itself at the service of the construction of the character. In other words, the cosmographic is put at the service of the biographical. The thematic framework of time travel is the ideal place to engage in a game about the information gap. In the first episode, the first confrontation between Claire and the Scots of 1763 is heavy with tension and incomprehension. None of the protagonists present holds complete information. No one is able to identify his interlocutor and even less to apprehend the reality of the leap in time that Claire has just made. It does not recognize the places it has already visited but in its world of 1945. She wears a white dress that the Scottish marauders take for the shirt of a prostitute who speaks like an English. This questioning of Claire’s identity and motivations becomes a recurring theme of the series. The McKenzie clan’s doubts about Claire compel her to marry Jamie. The game about the information deficit is more than a spring of intrigue in the sense that it participates in the singularity of the character of Claire by building a wall that separates her from the others, with the exception of Jamie (to whom she ends up revealing her secret).
6 The unknown as to the sequence of events and the becoming of characters generates just as much blurring of the markers. It is up to the screenwriters and the showrunner to maintain an opening of the possibilities and to proscribe a too predictable diegetic suite. The editing stage is essential because it feeds the suspense and gives coherence to the character. The use of flashback and flashforward (glimpses of past and future narratives) are traditional narratives of the contemporary feuilletonesque series. Outlander is no exception and often uses prolepse to arouse the surprise and the questioning of the public. However, the pilot episode gives a different range to the flashback. The opening of the series presents the story delivered by the character of Claire as a story that has already unfolded and a priori completed. Now, the more the viewer advances in viewing, the more he realizes that it is nothing. The temporality of the narration remains uncertain: nothing specific is said about Claire’s temporal situation at the time she gives her story. Did the voice-over come from Claire at twenty, thirty or more? The only clue given is the fleeting vision of a Scot presented from behind and dressed in the traditional kilt. We see him at night under a beating rain spying on Claire shortly before she began her journey through time. His red hair and stature are the distinguishing signs of Jamie that the viewer cannot recognize at this stage of the story. The mystery of Jamie’s presence in 1945 raises the question of the end of the story, which is not yet written.
I.2. The character as an anchor
7 It is also difficult to access the character’s truth because of his emotional errors. Emotional realism is at the heart of Outlander’s success. The emotions of the fictional character are perceived as real at the connotative level by the public who recognizes and experiences them. As Ron Moore points out, the viewer must be able to feel the emotional journey of the character to believe in the fable told to him:
You like to have characters who do things that they would actually do, and when you look at the show and you get to the point where you ask yourself, “Why would she do that?” , “This is not like him”, or
“It was a stupid decision-but why in the name of God...?” , you leave the fictional world, you pay no attention to it, you are no longer emotionally involved in history. So the more faithful you are to the reality of who they are and continue on this path, the better.
8 We can apply to the serial world the theory of Brémond on the written narrative as it was explained by Roland Barthes. The series, like the written narrative, must succeed in «reconstituting the syntax of the human behaviors implemented by the narrative, tracing the path of the choices to which, in each point of the story, such a character is fatally subjected».
9 Ron Moore made the bold choice to use the character of Claire as a single anchor for almost the entire first season. However, using a single narrative focus in the serial format is not without its problems because it involves the risk of wearying the viewer. In the series, the character of Claire is above all a voice. The first contact established between the spectator and Claire is made from the credits but indirectly. The bewitching female voice we hear belongs
not the actress who plays Claire, Catriona Balfe, but the singer Raya Yarbrough. Outlander’s musical theme is that of an old Scottish nursery rhyme, The Skye Boat Song. The lyrics, from Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem ‘Sing Me a Song of a Lad that Is Gone’, narrate the flight of Prince Bonnie Charlie after the defeat of the Battle of Culloden on April 16, 1746. Strange and History mix to form the fictional world.
10 Outlander’s credits are built on a gradation: Yarbrough’s voice rises alone before being gradually joined by several instruments until forming a fanfare. The strength of the credits lies in the association of a single element of stability that represents the female voice and the fragmentation of images that articulate in a frenetic movement. Claire’s forward flight goes hand in hand with the tumult of her emotions. We follow her through back shots and close-ups on her feet. Similarly, we have only a partial view of the characters to come with an alternation of planes of the lower halves of the bodies and faces. The story we are about to look at is clearly pointed out as emanating from Claire in all her partiality.
Diane Bénédic-Meyer, PhD in English Studies, is a specialist in the social and cultural political history of the United States at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st.
The construction of a feminine emotional weaving
11 Once the subjectivity of the story is established, a long prologue gives the keys to the density of the character. As in the ancient prologue, the creator of the series wants to ensure the viewer’s understanding. Outlander’s prologue is distinguished by the disaturation of the images which indicates that Claire’s slice of life is before the diegèse. She is portrayed as an independent and courageous woman, a World War II nurse in action during an amputation scene. Voice-over narration is used in a prolonged and repeated manner to stay as close as possible to one’s emotions and thoughts. The uniqueness of Claire’s situation means that she has no one to confide in at this moment of the story. Note that the female voice-over was long discredited and relegated to the rank of bad pages of a diary. It has been back in force in the American series since Sex and the City (HBO, 1998-2004). When the spectator is considered sufficiently accustomed to Claire, the use of voice-over becomes rarer to leave more room for the couple she will form with Jamie.
I.3. Saying female intimacy
12 The success of female emotional weaving also comes from the ability to tell the intimacy of the female character. Moore took care to surround himself with a mixed team "half men and half women". This initiative is unfortunately remarkable when we know that women represent only 17% of television directors in 2015 (according to figures from the Directors Guild of America). Recruited are Matthew B. Roberts, Toni Graphia, Ira Behr and Anne Kenney. Key episodes in Claire’s development as a woman such as “The Wedding” (S01E07) and “Faith” (S02E07) were reserved for female team members.
13 Outlander adopts the female gaze to transcribe Claire’s gaze. To use the definition given by Jill Soloway in 2016, the female gaze makes it possible to give priority to emotion over action, to capture the gaze of those who are looked at (Jamie in the case mentioned below) and to know how to return the gaze (of the one who is looked at. The wedding night scene of Claire and Jamie works as an abysmal setting of the female gaze as an objectivation of the male partner.
14 The treatment of the body and sexuality is an important fact of the character of Claire, who appears from the first episode as a woman assuming her desires. She is shown from the front to receive pleasure from her first husband who is shown from the back. If sexuality has no free value since it advances the plot, the scene does not contain a voyeuristic aspect but unlikely to shock because it is intended for a female audience. The episode “The Wedding” (S01E07) which deals with the marriage between Claire and Jamie emphasizes the emotional meaning of the sexual act. It works on a gradation in three steps: the clumsy discovery, the familiarization with pleasure and the endorsement of the emotional bond between the two partners. As director Anne Foerster explains, “their sexual or emotional relationship is rooted in the way these three sexual scenes evolve, and it also lays the groundwork for what comes next.”
15 Finally, the treatment of detail is another avenue of access to feminine intimacy. The frequency of close-ups on Claire and Jamie’s clasped hands through the episodes is significant, as are the slices of women’s life that dot Claire’s journey. These spaces constitute both a pause in the narrative and a place of truth. For example, while Claire and her sister-in-law Jenny follow in the footsteps of the English soldiers who arrested Jamie, Jenny has to stop for a few minutes to relieve her breasts full of milk. The scene is natural and the tone remains pragmatic. Other feminine moments bring a touch of lightness as when Claire mingles with the spinners of a Scottish village and urinates together with the other women to fix the dye on the fabric. However, the detail never seems as relevant as when it leads the viewer to reflect on his own reality. The female audience that smiled as Claire struggled to light her kitchen stove was thus referred to the social role assigned to the woman of American society in the 1950s.
II. Emotional Weaving within the Couple’s Matrix
II.1. The couple as a place of development of the character
16 The construction of Claire’s emotional weaving is done within the matrix of the couple she forms with Jamie. In the corpus studied, the love triangle that Claire forms with her two husbands constitutes the macroscopic plot. Claire’s dilemma – who to choose, Frank or Jamie? – manifests itself through two musical themes. One is from the couple formed by Claire and Jamie, the other from the couple Claire and Frank, as the composer McCreary says:
"There is no Claire theme. I write the score of the context she lives in. However, I tend to think of Claire and Jamie as her theme. We use it throughout the series and I think it helps to guide us on the path of their arc, of their journey".
17 Claire and Jamie’s relationship quickly took precedence over Claire and Frank’s couple. It is punctuated by three emotional peaks: when Claire chooses to stay with Jamie in Jacobite Scotland (S01E11), when she organizes Jamie’s escape from the walls of the Wentworth prison (S01E15) and when she saves Jamie from despair (S01E16).
18 Narrative dynamics are directly impacted by the evolution of the couple’s emotional weaving when screenwriters decide to break the unique narrative hearth. In the episode The Reckoning (S01E09) where Jamie pulls Claire out of the clutches of Black Jack Randall, everything happens as if Jamie had grown sufficiently in Claire’s emotional field to be allowed to receive the narrative torch. The use of the two narrative homes (Claire and Jamie) was systematized in Season 2.
19 Moreover, the emotional weaving of the couple is constructed as opposed to the external elements. Just as Claire’s unique narrative home was an element of stability in a dangerous universe, the couple became a place of peace and stability. “You are my homeland”, lets a relieved Jamie escape from saving his wife (S01E09). Paradoxically, it is precisely at this moment that the title of the series takes on its full meaning. Before they met, Claire was the foreigner as an Englishman in Scottish territory and no one from the future. Its physical appearance, free of the stigma of the time of a young woman of the eighteenth century, and its language are all attributes of its strangeness. Jamie was the stranger because he lived under a hidden identity. The couple they are going to form constitutes a unity apart from the rest of the fictional world.
20 The emotional weaving of the couple develops between partnership and impossible sharing. Claire brings Jamie into a new social dimension since as a young man he becomes a man. On the other hand, it will have a lot of work to do to rally it to its views and to reach a partnership that will suit them. The private sphere does not seem to be a problem. “Fair is fair” (“giveaway”), states Jamie in his partner’s physical discovery on the wedding night. It is different from the public sphere as shown in the episode «The Reckoning» (S01E09) where Claire finds it difficult to accept the treatment that Jamie reserves for her after she has put the clan in danger. Jamie follows the clan codes and beats her with a belt in order to establish his status as a married man and to reintegrate Claire into the clan. The scene oscillates between tension and lightness. The comic music appears just before the actual spanking. It is a matter of de-dramatizing and legitimizing their different assessments of the situation in view of their cultural background. Claire will hold her revenge by forgiving and threatening to castrate Jamie if he assaults her again.
It really draws the line that must not be crossed. (…) When we have this other intense sex scene, I think it’s her way of saying, look, I’ll love you with all the fibers of my being, but no more than I love myself, and as long as you respect me, everything will be fine between us.
21 Caitriona Balfe explains by these words that her character delimits the frame of the couple. For season 2, we will not be surprised to see Claire oppose Jamie once again. She refuses to stay in her Parisian mansion while waiting for their first child. She is a woman of action who withers away from work. Despite her pregnancy, which she should hide from the eyes of Louis XIV’s Paris, she managed to be accepted at the Hôtel des Anges where she took care of the sick.
22 There are places, however, where the sharing within the couple is impossible and where the emotional weaving of women excludes the masculine. An example is Faith (S02E07). It recounts Claire’s solitary journey from the despair of losing her stillborn child to reconciliation with her husband. The success of «Faith» is based on the quality of the script, the interpretation of Caitriona Balfe and the editing. The story of Claire’s suffering takes place mainly in the Glasgow Cathedral chosen to represent the Hospital of Angels. The one-hour episode gives the character of Claire time to make her emotional journey and stage her extreme fragility. This is all the more striking in view of his determined character, his knowledge and his remarkable resilience. The men have no right to be in the room where she lies after losing her child. We see her alone, her face filmed in close-up. The «intimate description» of which Esquenazi speaks is at work. Everything happens as if we placed the female character «under a magnifying glass capable of detailing feelings and emotions».
23 “You knew what she was thinking, you didn’t need to hear her voice,” says Ron Moore to explain the lack of voice-over. The trauma is such that one has the impression that the character has split and his mind has gone away. The undone and white face blends with the sheets in the blafard light. The fragmented narration translates confusion and dispossession. After the vision of her despair, alone on her bed, we see Claire rocking her child for the first time and saying goodbye to her in the presence of her two friends Louise (a socialite flourishing in the shimmering superficiality of the Parisian salons) and Mother Hildegarde (Hospital Administrator). The opening of the episode ends up disturbing the spectator by showing Claire with a little girl who is hers but which we learn later that she cannot be her stillborn daughter Faith. The episode «Faith» will find its counterpart in the opening of season 3 with the birth of Briana, Claire’s second daughter. Here again, the father is excluded (Jamie having remained in his time and Frank waiting in the corridor of the hospital) and Claire is dispossessed of the experience of childbirth. She was forcibly asleep, a common practice in New England in the 1950s and 1960s. The spectator is quickly relieved when he realizes that the red child previously perceived is alive and well and that it is Briana.
II.2. A Conversation of Absence
24 The theme of absence is central in Outlander. In the first season, Frank is physically absent although he regularly invades Claire’s thoughts via the couple’s musical theme. However, a different narrative process is at work to explain the joint evolution of Claire and Jamie. It is an audible dialogue of the public only that has this particular that neither of the two protagonists takes an active part in it and is aware of it. We distinguish between two modalities. The first has the object of densifying a single character while the second gives rise to a simultaneous intermingling of the emotional weaving of the two characters. The conversation of the absence of the first type is outlined in the episode «I am Prest» (S02E09). It results from the parallel of the individual experiences of Jamie and Claire while both are engaged in preparations for war against the English. The character of Claire develops on the mode of superposition and flashback. Every detail of the Scottish encampment reflects her experience of the Second World War. For the series, it is about transcribing the post-traumatic stress that she suffers from. “All the time, you try to create a landscape in her head, because of course those are all the things she remembers from the past,” says director Philip John.
25 The second modality of the conversation of absence is constructed over time. It stretches into the first half of season 3. Claire’s situation is this: after a heartbreaking separation, she returns to Frank in 1948 to save her unborn child. She lets Jamie and his men go to a certain death in Culloden.
26 A conversation of absence takes place that transcends time and space that neither Claire nor Jamie are aware of. The two narrative focus functions symmetrically, that is, simultaneously and separately. Convinced of Jamie’s death at the Battle of Culloden, Claire remade her life with Frank in Boston in the 1950s and 1960s. An echo game is set up by retroactive completeness because the viewer knows more than the character and completes a posteriori the event that is presented to him. It is as if the two members of the couple were on a journey to find each other. The lines of action are drawn with a mirror effect: Claire’s story is told from the most recent event to the oldest, while Jamie’s story is narrated in reverse order, that is, chronologically. Symmetry works because the selected segments of life, if they belong to common themes (parenting, sexuality), have been lived at different times. For example, they both raise their children without being able to reveal the identity of their other father – Brianna for Claire (who she had from Jamie) and the little boy Jamie had with an English aristocrat. A finer analysis highlights the mimicry of situations. Two intimate scenes are paralleled within the S03E02. It shows Claire and Jamie with their eyes closed as they reconnect with the sexual act. “You can look at me if you want” (you can look at me if you like) Jamie’s partner resonates with Frank’s “Open your eyes” injunction to Claire. Thus, the conversation of absence intensifies the narration and nourishes the emotional weaving of the character.
III. Reception of the series: the construction of the character by the fans
27 The construction of the series character also depends on the reception of spectators and fans. A series fan is a spectator with a strong emotional investment. The serial character belongs to the domain of perception as opposed to the novel character who has no existence outside the text. The serial character has an interpreter who lives outside the series and to whom we can attach the notion of persona (characteristic of star studies), a type of character that the public expects to find with the interpreter he knows. The relationship between the series and its fans is part of the parasocial relationship. Derived from the communication studies of the 1950s, this concept is basically a one-way relationship where a person (the fan) invests his or her emotional energy, interest and time with another entity (celebrity or character). Jason Mittell adapts this concept to the study of the serial character. It states that the viewer’s emotional investment in the serial character is a “fundamental component” (key component) of the narrative. This is especially true for Outlander as the serial adaptation was created by fans of the series. In fact, the reception of Claire’s character is the result of a negotiation between the fans and the production team of the series. The participatory culture of Outlander fans and the strategies of the series' producers and broadcasters will be analysed here.
III.1. Nature and action of Outlander fans
28 While Outlander’s distribution extends to Europe, Brazil and a few Asian countries, its audience is mostly from the United States because of the popular success of Diana Gabaldon’s novels on the other side of the Atlantic. Ron Moore has always kept in mind the need to appeal to two kinds of audiences – those who know Gabaldon’s work and others. The feminine and intergenerational character of the fans of the series is hardly in doubt given the exchanges between Gabaldon and his readership (meetings, email exchanges) and the profile of the participants in the conventions of the series. The series addresses themes that affect them through a feminine perspective (sexuality, motherhood, grief, difficulty for women to impose themselves in a patriarchal society, destined for the long term of the couple). As Chris Parnell, co-producer of Sony Pictures Television, points out,
“Historically, women of a certain age have felt neglected by the television supply, and we have seen an audience in demand that we knew wanted a series that met his wishes, that offered him a romantic and mature adventure and not necessarily flattering.”
29 It is therefore the emotional weaving of the feminine perceived as authentic by the audience that makes the success of the series. It’s easy to understand why most fans admit they never belonged to a fandom before Outlande. Outlander’s presence at the Comic Con Mass in San Diego since 2015 marks the recognition of female audiences of all ages by the media industries, something unthinkable only ten years ago.
30 Let us now look at the nature of Outlander fan productions. Certainly, there are many fan sites dedicated to the cosmography of the series (summary of episodes, information on characters and actors) that duplicate the accompaniment function of the Starz site. Nevertheless, fans know how to go further in the appropriation of the serial character in their use of social networks. The messages left mostly reflect the emotional effect felt by the fan. They are often enamelled with animated GIFs including screenshots of the facial expressions of the characters. Claire’s image captures most often represent her as a couple with Jamie. These GIFs are primarily a sign of belonging and are used to signify a state of mind (like an emoji) or to say the emotional impact of the episode. The reappropriation of the characters of Outlander by the fans is not part of a continuation of the narration in this case. The transmedia content is the fact of a small minority in the form of an artistic creation (drawing, embroidery, costume, fan fiction) for which a particular talent is required.
31 We also notice that the exchanges on the fan blogs show a back and forth between the fictional world and the reality of the fan. On the one hand, some fans tell happy and less happy events of their life without going into detail and apparently unexpectedly because without necessary link with the theme of the episode. Grief is often evoked by women with elderly parents or sick children. On the other hand, exchanges on social networks show their constantly renewed interest in the news and the privacy of actors. It happens that the hybridity of the serial character (which «proceeds from a fusion of a particular type between the character and the actor») is confusing. Fans are intrigued and for some fascinated by the relationship between Claire and Jamie’s performers. The shipping variant here consists in considering a couple of fiction as real lovers. It traditionally operates on a light and good fashion between fans knowing how to separate fiction from reality. However, the on-screen alchemy between the two actors Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan is so strong that a hard shippers group has formed within the Outlander fan community. This hard core propagates the rumor that the actors are prevented by their contract to declare themselves but leave clues on the social networks. The reappropriation of the serial character becomes for them a game of track. One rumor feeding the other, the traces of reality (public appearances, twitter and instagram accounts, and stolen photos of actors) intertwine with the characteristics of the serial character. We can only note the powerlessness of production and actors to stem such practices despite repeated attempts to appease.
32 Moreover, fan communities mobilize to feed their parasocial relationship elsewhere than on the web and provoke the encounter with the actors. They organize conventions that have little to do with those of the 1970s which were intended to share his passion with other fans and to consume exclusive products of the franchises of the universe of comics and science fiction. The participants of the conventions of the years 2010 buy their ticket to offer an emotional experience with the artists and other fans present, the grail being to be able to offer a privileged moment with them in a reduced committee. The success of the convention is proportional to the intensity of the fandom’s participatory culture. For your information, the last French convention of Outlander (Landcon 3, 2019) sold its tickets in one day. The impact on the reception of the serial character is however limited because the fan mainly seeks to be recognized as such by the actors and other fans even if the panels are an opportunity to discuss the characters with the actors. Moreover, serial productions seem to want to regain control by cooperating conventions initiated by fans.
III.2. The weight of Outlander’s teams in negotiating the reception of the character
33 Outlander’s producers and broadcasters know that they can count on the presence of a very active fandom. What communication strategy do they use to attract and retain the public? How do they rely on the hybrid character of the serial character to influence the negotiation of the reception?
Let’s start with a statement from John Westphal, vice-president of programming at Sony Pictures Television Studios:
“We want our episodes to sound just for our dedicated fans. (…) We are also actively engaging marketing, social media, and Starz and Sony advertising teams to include fans in every way possible.”
34 Participatory culture is at the heart of a commercial strategy during and outside the broadcast of the different seasons. For example, Starz manages the after-viewing of episodes with the posting of exclusive documents such as the handwritten corrections of the writers. Starz encourages interactivity with directors, writers and actors through ephemeral question/answer forums. In a more permanent way, a twitter account (Outlander writers) remains open to fans. The questions for the most part are about the serial adaptation of the novel that truncates some of their favorite scenes, which does not go without creating tensions as evidenced by this exchange on the twitter account of director Matthew Roberts.
Fan: "I think it wouldn’t hurt to have a continuity consultant when Diana is not available."
Roberts: “There is a word for a person who does all these things.
– fans» (May 6, 2017) «Each gray hair has the name of an Outlander fan on it. A gift that they keep giving me. Thank you all:-)» (May 19, 2017)
35 The commercial strategy continues between the broadcast of the seasons. We must create expectation and please a public in a state of want. That moment, the fans themselves called it droughtlander (from the English drought). They are offered in dribs and drabs from behind the scenes of the shooting or the posting of mini-sequences of the episodes of the season during the shooting. The most guided attempt to control fan activity on Starz’s part is most certainly the open writing forum between seasons 2 and 3. Viewers had then left the couple of Claire and Jamie in full tragedy but the well-informed fans knew that the separation would last twenty years as indicated in the original material. Starz then provides a writing platform for the fans to tell a love story that they had experienced and that also involved a long forced separation.
36 Finally, we can mention one last aspect of the reception of the serial character specific to the Outlander series. The actors-interpreters of Claire and Jamie encourage fan activism by encouraging them to support their charity. This type of tweets is taken up and shared on the official twitter accounts of the series. The intertwining of the fan’s personal life, the action of the actor-performer and the serial character works because the values defended by Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan are in line with the characters they play.
37 There is no doubt that the character of Claire would recognize himself in the causes defended by Caitriona Balfe. The latter is a sponsor of World Child Cancer, an advocate for equal pay and against sexual harassment (she supports the Time’s Up movement). It also publicly supported the request to withdraw the eighth amendment to the Irish Constitution which prohibits abortion.
38 How does emotional weaving in the feminine give to see the coherence of the serial character? The answer is certainly in the capacity of the series to build the emotional realism of the character. The serial format allows many entry points to the character. In Outlander, this process involves the establishment of a continuum between jamming and character stability. The bold choice of the unique narrative focus over a long time allows the character to sit within a moving plot and the couple’s matrix. Access to the character’s intimacy marks the success of the company. It is through the multiple, fragmentation, lack and absence that a subtle interweaving of Claire and Jamie’s emotional weaves takes place. Serial time allows narrative weaving to grow. It gives birth in the third season to a novel narrative motif – a conversation of absence that engages between the two separate beings and works through resonance between episodes.
39 Moreover, our foray into fan studies has led us to explore the pursuit of emotional weaving in women outside the time of viewing. Outlander’s audience includes women of all ages with a preponderance for the baby boom generation, a fandom often considered illegitimate by creators and series broadcasters. The reception of the serial character is part of a paradigm of negotiation between media organizations and fans. It occurs in spaces of participatory culture. The intensity of the fans' commitment is one of the markers of the success of the emotional weaving to the feminine in Outlander, allowing a porosity between the character of Claire, her actress-interpreter and the reality of the female fan.