I have a confession to make before we get started: I hardly ever watch TV.
Walking Dead and Doctor Who were pretty much it for a long time, despite how desperately my girlfriend tries to get me on board with her shows. It’s not that I don’t like TV. I just have trouble focusing on something I have to leave and come back to repeatedly. I’ve even fallen off the Walking Dead and Doctor Who band wagons (all though Bill makes me want to get back on the Doctor Who one).
And yet, I was counting down the episodes and watching them religiously until Jamie and Claire Frazer were reunited .
When I first started watching the show I figured I’d enjoy it for the history and action while just tolerating the romance, but I was wrong. I’m as invested in Jamie and Claire as I am the other fantastically written elements of the show (I can rave about those in another blog post). I’m not usually this invested in romance-heavy stories, so I thought, since my favorite TV couple is reuniting, it would be a good time to break down what makes them so great when so many other relationships in the romance genre fall flat.
1. Both Characters Have Strong Individual Identities
Claire is a ex-combat nurse looking to settle down after the war. She’s as smart and quick-thinking as she is compassionate and brave, but she sometimes leans too strongly on her own understanding of how the world works, which gets her into trouble in a world far more different from her own than she expects.
Jamie is a Jacobite rebel fighting for Scottish independence and trying his best to navigate to the social-political landscape of his time. He can be stubborn and too quick to act at times, but is smart and open minded enough to listen when it’s important, even at great sacrifice to himself.
Also he’s got great hair.
Both Claire and Jamie stand alone as compelling, sympathetic characters, so no matter who they’re with, they’re great to watch and when they’re together, they play off each other’s well developed strengths and weaknesses to be an awesome power couple. Given how much they have to overcome together, they both need that strength.
2. Their Happy Ending Isn’t Set in Stone (pun possibly intended)
If you’ve followed the story up to the point, then you know what Jamie and Claire are going through and where they relationship lies, but for entirety of seasons one and two, we had no idea. We didn’t know if Claire was going to stay and what would compel her to do so, the same for if she were to go back to her time.
One reason I don’t follow a lot of romance-centered stories is that you can see the happily ever after from the front page. With Jamie and Claire, there’s too many variables at play, both on a personal and greater narrative level, so we have to watch to see what will happen to them.
3. They’re Part of Something Bigger
Whether it’s trying to thwart the British or gather support for the Jacobite cause in France, Jamie and Claire have a lot on their plate and they have to work together to get through it. We want to see them succeed not only because we care about them as characters, but because we come to care about everyone they know and we feel the weight of what a victory, or a defeat, would mean for them. We also know these larger conflicts have a direct impact on their relationship, meaning that, if we want to see Jame and Claire get their happily ever after, we have little choice but to be invested in everything that goes on around them.
4. They Both Mess Up
Like all real people, both Jamie and Claire don’t always handle things in the best way. They get things wrong, whether due to misunderstanding or acting out in anger. They hurt each other on accident and like real couples, sometimes you wonder if they’ll recover from what’s happened and you breath a sigh of relief when they do. It makes them all the more sympathetic because they’re believable, both in the source of their conflict and they way they both handle it, right or wrong. And in the end, they’re always stronger for it, which leads me to my last point.
5. They Challenge Each Other
Like I mentioned above, Jamie and Claire compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses perfectly. Jamie has to lean on Claire’s knowledge of the future at times, no matter how crazy it sounds that his wife is from another time. In turn, Claire has to learn to navigate a time and culture very different from her own, meaning she has to in turn lean on Jamie to get by, and even for her personal safety, on occasion. Such trust and vulnerability, alongside the fact that they’re from two different worlds, forces both of them into situations where they have to grow as people, making them a more interesting couple as well as more interesting individual characters. And with them FINALLY coming back together after such a long time, we get to see them change and grow together as they set out on another adventure.
What about you? What makes Jamie and Claire so enjoyable to watch? What about the show overall? Leave a comment and lets talk!
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