Outlander Casts New Actors To Play Roles From One Of The Book’s Worst Storylines
Oh Outlander, why do you do this to us? While covering the news of Outlander receiving renewal for season 7, I proclaimed that the worst of the book’s rape storylines were behind us. I was under the mistaken impression that the show would cut out one of the most egregious storylines from the books. I based this assumption on the fact that these characters had not been introduced in the show. And it seemed unnecessary to include them at this point. Well, I was wrong. Because this week Starz announced casting for a new family who will appear in season 6 of Outlander. Let me delve into why the Christie family storyline is so bad. And why it needs to be changed for the upcoming season. Spoilers will follow for the Outlander books, and television series.
Outlander Casts Actors To Play The Terrible Christie Family In An Equally Terrible Storyline
Image via Starz
According to Deadline, Mark Lewis Jones, Alexander Vlahos, and Jessica Reynolds have joined the cast of Outlander‘s sixth season. The actors will appear as Tom Christie, Allan Christie and Malva Christie, respectively. The Christie Family are some of the worst characters in the Outlander books, and I hate their storyline.
The Christies are a family who moves to Fraser’s Ridge. The patriarch of the family – Tom Christie – was a fellow prisoner at Ardsmuir with Jamie Fraser way back in season 3 of Outlander. In the books, his daughter Malva becomes Claire’s assistant in her surgery. This role has already been filled by the character of Marsali (Claire’s daughter-in-law) on the show. So it seemed like there was no reason to bring Malva Christie in at all. But Outlander has an almost too-slavish devotion to adapting every single thing from the books. And this appears to be no exception.
A False Rape Accusation Is Not What This Show Needs Right Now
Image via Starz
Let me tell you why the Christie family storyline is so awful in the Outlander books. The majority of the storyline centers around Malva Christie who falsely accuses Jamie Fraser of rape. This storyline is incredibly harmful not only to the characters in the show, but to the readers of the books and viewers of the series. Studies have shown that the number of false rape accusations that occur in the real world are only 5% of the reported rapes over a 10-year period. That’s not even taking into account the number of men and women who do not report their sexual assaults for any number of complicated reasons.
For author Diana Gabaldon to focus in on this concept of a false rape accusation is problematic in a number of ways. First, Gabaldon uses sexual assault far too often as a plot point in Outlander. Secondly, for her to paint Jamie Fraser as a victim of this accusation falls into the idea that women are not to be trusted and that men are the ones who should have our sympathy. This is deeply irresponsible for any author to do, and yet Gabaldon did it.
An Egregiously Bad Storyline That Should Be Cut From The Show
Caitriona Balfe as Claire Fraser and Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser in Outlander | Image via Starz
It turns out that Malva is pregnant with a child from this alleged rape, and she claims that Jamie is the father. This throws Claire into a crisis, since she deeply cares for young Malva Christie and knows her husband would never do this horrible thing. Jamie himself is a rape victim, having been sexually assaulted by Black Jack Randall at the end of season one. In the books this storyline occurs before Claire is abducted and raped herself. The show decided to move that incredibly traumatic experience up to the finale of last season. That means all of this is coming after her own rape, and do we really need to add insult to Claire’s very real injuries?
In the end, it is revealed that Malva has actually been a victim of molestation from her own father – Tom Christie. She accused Jamie to protect her own family and because she thought she could manipulate him into caring for her and her child (another terrible trope). In the end, she is brutally murdered by her brother in Claire’s garden, and her unborn child dies with her.
There Are Better Storylines That Outlander Should Focus On
Image via Starz
All of this is extremely messed up, to say the least. I hated the Christie family storyline in the Outlander books, and I hate that they are including it in the show. Here at Comic Years, we tend to focus on stories that we love. And there are many elements of Outlander that I do love. The romance, the time travel, the exploration of historical time periods. But I have covered the rape problem in Outlander before and I am incredibly disheartened to see the show continuing to lean on the worst storylines from the books.
There are so many better plots that should receive a larger focus in the upcoming seasons of Outlander that don’t involve the Christie family storyline. With the adaptation of Echo In The Bone moving up to season six, we should get more time-travel adventures featuring Brianna and Roger. The Revolutionary War is also about to begin. And the Frasers must decide their alliance with knowledge of how the war will end. Jamie’s secret son William gets his own storyline that should definitely have more attention paid to it. There are so many more interesting storylines that don’t involve rape and molestation.
Showrunners Have A Responsibility To Change Bad Storylines
Sophie Skelton as Brianna Fraser and Richard Rankin as Roger MacKenzie in Outlander | Image via Starz
It is entirely possible that the showrunners are including these characters, without the false rape accusation. But it doesn’t seem likely. Fans of the Outlander books are notorious for demanding the show adhere exactly to the source material. But the process of an adaptation should change storylines in order to best fit the television format.
So far, Outlander has done a commendable job altering some of the other problematic storylines. An extremely racist depiction of a Chinese character from the third book was drastically changed for the show. Unfortunately, the rape storylines have somehow been made far worse by the show’s adaptation. From Brianna’s rape in season 3, to Claire’s at the end of last season. Somehow these storylines have been made more traumatic on-screen than they were in the books. And I’m begging the showrunners to stop doing this. You don’t have to include every single storyline from the books. It’s okay to let this one go. Please. I can’t take another rape storyline.
What do you think about the way Outlander has covered the traumatic storylines from Diana Gabaldon’s books? Join the conversation with Comic Years on Facebook and Twitter today.
Featured image via Starz
Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.