Mindy Newell: Of Corsets And Kilts
Jamie Frasier (Sam Heughan): This will go faster if ye just yield, woman!
Claire Randall Frasier (Caitriona Balfe): I’m going to make you suffer!
Jamie: Ye already have!
Jamie: I am your master and you’re mine. It seems I canna possess your soul without losing my own.
Claire: Yes, master?
Jamie: What does fucking mean?
Outlander • Ronald D. Moore, Producer. Based on the novel by Diana Gabaldon
Question 1: Has there ever been a show on television, network or cable – not counting the porn channels – in which the camera stays focused on the action as the man sucks on his lover’s nipple?
Question 2: Have you been watching the second half of the first season of Outlander on the Starz network?
And you thought the sex scenes in the first half were hot? Whoa!
Well, just in case you’re thinking that this old bag is only watching this genre-mixing series (part historical, part adventure, and part romance, and based on Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling novel) only to get her rocks off, I want you to know that, im-not-so-ho, the intimate scenes between the “time-crossed” lovers Claire Randall and Jamie Frasier aren’t in the least bit gratuitous.
Claire and Jamie, two strangers divided by 200 years of societal, political and technological upheavals, were married last season not for love, but for political circumstance and to protect Claire from the British captain who believes she is a spy; there has been some very ugly words between them, as well as some 21st century “politically incorrect” physical abuse that lit up Outlander message boards across the web. And so their relationship seesaws between love and hate, need and independence, conflict and harmony, competition and accord.
None of this should be surprising; Outlander is produced – with some episodes directed and written – by Ronald D. Moore, who has never shied away from the realities of relationships and the forces that work upon them, making those relationships a basic element of all his work, most famously in his reboot of Battlestar: Galactica.
Aside: Mr. Moore has stated that he left Star Trek: The Next Generation because he became frustrated with Gene Roddenberry’s dictum that everyone on the U.S. S. Enterprise NCC 1701-C got along like stoned-out-of-their-minds hippies at Woodstock or a conclave of Scientologists slobbering at the foot of Tom Cruise. A few minor skirmishes were allowed, hints of romance every so often, but no any real character growth and development between crewmembers. “Conflict is the heart of drama,” Moore has said. “No conflict, no drama.”
But Outlander is also richly detailed in its historical facts – the Jacobite movement to restore “Bonnie Prince Charlie” Stuart to the throne of England – and 18th century Scottish creeds, customs and mores, including its costume design. Speaking of which, today’s New York Times includes a piece on Mr. Moore and his wife, Terry Dresbach, who is Outlander’s costume designer. According to the New York Times, “The couple share a similar philosophy when it comes to period costumes: Make them as authentic as possible. ‘I want them to look lived-in, beaten-up and home-repaired,’ Mr. Moore said. To that end, his wife assembled a 15-person aging and dyeing department, whose primary objective is to weather the costumes and ‘make them look real,’ he explained.
“Occasionally they clash when the needs of the story and the reality of costumes collide,” the NYT continued. “For instance, when the villainous redcoat Capt. Black Jack Randall rips Claire’s bodice, Mr. Moore said, ‘Terry tells me in excruciating detail how impossible it is to rip open these dresses unless you’re the Hulk, because there are many layers of thick fabric’…[they] settled on having Black Jack slice open Claire’s dress with a knife.”
Like most actors and actresses the cast of Outlander says that wearing appropriate to the era costumes only increases their ability to “step inside” their characters’ minds and lives. However, the wearing corsets can be, well, inhibiting. Caitrona Balfe, who plays Claire, said, “Once you’re sucked into these corsets, you realize just how repressed women were.” And her co-star, Lotte Verbeek, who also starred in HBO’s The Borgias, says, “The costumes help, but they also kind of hurt.” As for the men, well, they have fewer complaints in their kilts. “There’s something very freeing about wearing [it],” said Graham McTavish, who plays Dougal MacKenzie, the war chief of Clan MacKenzie, and Jamie’s uncle. “It represents something from the past that has style and elegance – you’re not going out dressed in sweatpants, sneakers, and a baseball cap.” Though Tobias Menzies, who plays the aforementioned British Royal Army Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall, doesn’t like them. “Put some trousers on,” he says. Well, he does, for Menzies also plays Frank Randall, Claire’s 20th century husband and a descendant of Black Jack.
I don’t know if the men wear underwear under the kilts, though that is truly the way kilts are worn. I know, because my ex-husband wore a kilt to our wedding….
Um, ‘nuff said!