To Binge or Not to Binge Episode 65: ‘Outlander’


Hannah Allred

(Graphic by Hannah Allred | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ray H

Warning: This review contains mild spoilers for the Netflix show “Outlander.”


We all have a niche genre that we’re more inclined to remain with when watching television shows. Straying from comfort titles only happens when boredom strikes and nothing else seems to satisfy your entertainment needs. Searching for an entertaining show on Netflix these days ends in either a hit or miss. Usually, you can’t find anything more on the streaming service since you just finished a series binge, so it takes a while to find something of interest. That’s when coming out of your genre niche may serve you well. That is how I usually find some hidden gem. 

Since shows like “Downton Abbey” and “Game of Thrones” have been the center of attention for many years, other great dramas have been left in the dark. It’s a surprise that a title that received an outstanding 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and more than its fair share of awards would go under the radar. “Outlander” is a show that many people have not heard of, and I didn’t know much about it when I stumbled into it on Netflix. Since it is a sci-fi fantasy and drama show, it’s even more shocking that it’s not well-known.

What “Outlander” does correctly in the sci-fi fantasy genre is not relying heavily on genre tropes as the basis for the plot. There is a touch of realism to the historical periods and a large focus on character growth — which is exactly why it is so bingeable. 


To Binge or Not to Binge?

After watching the first few episodes, I was convinced that the show would be too much of a sappy romance. This show does contain drama that uses cheesy antics and fillers, which usually isn’t my cup of tea. However, the dramatic situations that the main character finds herself in and the twists of the story make “Outlander” binge-worthy.  

An English woman named Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) is on vacation with her husband Frank (Tobias Menzies) to the Highlands to celebrate their second honeymoon after the end of World War II. They both served in the war and are ready to take a break. Claire was as a nurse who has seen enough awful things — which foreshadows the challenges she will face later in the series. Sadly, neither of the two can enjoy themselves for long. The couple stumbled upon a ritual that sends Claire back in time to 1743 in Scotland after she touches a Callanish Standing Stone.

Beyond the magic of time travel, there is little that resembles typical fantasy tropes in this series. The show also isn’t just a romance, though there is a good amount of steamy subplots. As the show continues, there are several episodes that are told in a different light and will alter the way you see the rest of the series. “Outlander” cleverly keeps you guessing with every twist and turn in the storyline. The only thing is, you have to get through the first few episodes to start to appreciate it.

The acting makes the series memorable. Balfe has continued to be an awards favorite for her role as Claire, receiving four Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress in a Television Series — Drama. Menzies has also received a Golden Globe nomination, and Sam Heughan, who plays the Scottish clansman and principal love interest Jamie Fraser, has won a Saturn Award and People’s Choice Award for his performance.

Beyond the well-developed characters, unpredictable story and spectacular acting, the sets are beautiful. The clothing and settings make the time period believable, like viewers are actually going through daily life in the 18th century. This show is one that I definitely did not expect to get sucked into, let alone watching hour-long episodes back-to-back. 


Best Episode

By far the best episode is Season One, Episode Five, “Rent.”

In the episode, you finally get to see how much a change of perspective can affect a character’s demeanor. Claire sees that her prejudice towards her detainers, Dougal and his men, is unlike what she originally thought. She begins to admire the men and what they stand for. 


Similar Shows

“The Crown,” “Penny Dreadful,” “Downton Abbey,” “Game of Thrones” and “Doctor Who.”


Trigger Warnings

“Outlander” has a Mature Audience rating, and the show includes profanity, drinking, nudity, sex, violence, gore, intense physical abuse, murder, desecration of bodies and strong religious opinions.


4 out of 5 Stars


Available to stream through Netflix and Starz.

Netflix has two Seasons, 29 Episodes, approximately 29 hours

Starz has all four Seasons, 55 Episodes, approximately 55 hours

Season five will begin on Feb. 16, 2020.