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Claire's Voiceover On 'Outlander' — The Rise & Fall (& Rise Again?) Of This Divisive Storytelling Technique

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Claire's Voiceover On 'Outlander' — The Rise & Fall (& Rise Again?) Of This Divisive Storytelling Technique

"People disappear all the time," is the opening line that has drawn millions of readers into Diana Gabaldon's Outlander novel. It's also the opening line of the Starz TV adaptation, as said by Caitriona Balfe's Claire. While readers may not have batted an eye to the line in the book, Claire's voiceover narration on Outlander has been a hot topic in the fandom since the show first premiered in August 2014. The narration has come and gone throughout the five seasons and based on Season 5, it seems the narration could be making a resurgence.

As Outlander is written in first-person, the choice to use voiceover narration on the TV adaptation was understandable. However, while first-person narrative is pretty accepted in literature, the use of narration in film and television is a bit more controversial — particularly if voiceover is used to fill in gaps that should be more organically integrated into the story.

The narration in Outlander has been discussed within the fandom, in reviews of the series, and even in academic papers. Part of the reason for so much discourse around Balfe's narration in the early seasons was because of its prevalence. But when Starz changed showrunners, the approach around this storytelling device changed. Here I, Caitlin Gallagher, will take you, dear reader, back to the early days of voiceover and track how one woman's voice shaped a series — and what the narration's evolution could mean for the show's future.

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