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Outlander: A Bloody Historical Bodice Ripper that’s For Guys, Too

Claire (Caitriona Balfe) n the arms of her Highland fling Jamie (Sam Heughan)
Claire (Caitriona Balfe) n the arms of her Highland fling Jamie (Sam Heughan)
COurtesy, Starz



To most guys, romance novels and their film version are “chick lit” or “chick flicks,” and in most cases their instincts are right – but Outlander, or at least the version now airing on Starz Saturday nights, is different. Although based on a best-selling romance novel, the cable version is definitely for guys, too.

The story follows a former WWII British Army nurse who while visiting Scotland magically falls 200 years back through time to the era of Bonnie Prince Charlie, Culloden and the rising of the clans. The widely popular books by Diana Gabaldon (eight in the series so far, with a ninth in the works) are told from the nurse's point of view, as is the film version. This is no weepy, hand-wringing, chardonnay-sipping, feel-sorry-for-herself girl. Claire (as played by the smokingly elegant Caitriona Balfe) is a tough, practical, courageous war veteran, and a true and feisty heroine of the Maureen O’Hara stripe. (Unlike the famous Ms. O’Hara of John Ford filmdom, however, this Scottish lass gets naked and has sex, and a lot of sex at that).

Outlander, however, has more to offer guys than just sex and nudity. There is a lot of history – and most of it very bloody military history– in the story. There are raids and skirmishes, ambushes and battles, all with cannons roaring, muskets firing, Redcoats thrusting bayonets and Highlanders swinging their deadly claymores (a very heavy, very sharp sword). There are also castles – including the one that was used as Winterfell in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Speaking of Game of Thrones and HBO, one of the male leads in the series (who plays the dual roles of Claire’s modern-day husband, Frank, and his ancestor, a captain of British dragoons named “Black Jack”) is Tobias Menzies. He also played Edmure Tully, one of the few survivors of the Game of Thrones’ “Red Wedding” massacre, and portrayed Brutus in HBO’s Rome).

As if sex, nudity, bloody battles, military history and all that were not enough to bring guys to the screen, Outlander is helmed by Roland D. Moore – the man who brought Battlestar Galactica to life on Syfy. He brings the same attention to detail, the same love of martial history, and the same intense storytelling talents to the Highlands of the 1740s as he did to that space opera epic (and to Roswell, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation before that). With bona fides like those, guys should know that no way is Outlander going to be a “chick flick.”

Outlander airs Saturdays on Starz at 9pm ET/8pmC

PS: Starz just announced today that Outlander has already been renewed for a second season - even before its second episode has aired.

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Mark G. McLaughlin is a descendant of the Highland Catholic Campbells, the denizens of “Castle Gloom,” and the only members of Clan Campbell to fight for the Bonnie Prince in the ’45. The Irish regiments in French service who fought for the prince feature prominently in his book, The Wild Geese. Mark has walked Culloden battlefield, and his son’s first name is Campbell. Mark also has seen (and enjoyed) many “chick flickss,” both with his wife, Cheryl and especially with his daughter, Ryan, and hopes readers understand that he does not intend to be disparaging of the romance genre – quite the contrary, he only hopes that other guys find as much joy as he has in viewing such films.

Mark is a Connecticut-based free lance journalist and game designer with nearly 40 years of experience as a ghost-writer, columnist, historian and game designer. An author whose first published book was Battles of the American Civil War, and whose games include War and Peace, The Napoleonic Wars and the Mr. Lincoln’s War set. To view Mark's 16th published design, the American Civil War Naval strategy game Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, visit his publisher at
…or his blog at

Mark’s latest book, the science fiction adventure novel Princess Ryan's Star Marines, is available on in both paperback and Kindle e-book formats at

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