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There’s been a bit of a debate swirling in the popular Outlander universe. A few days ago, Starz COO Jeffrey Hirsch relayed how he feels the drama does well because actor Sam Heughan provides “eye candy” when he has his shirt off. Author Diana Gabaldon, who created the fantasy love series, called the network president out after he said the ladies like a bit of "eye candy" with the TV series, defending the character in the novels. She said at the time:
What they mostly say they like is the intelligence of the story and the complexity and strength of the relationship between Jamie and Claire. They also love the visual beauty of the show and the emotional depth of the acting. If you’re looking for a place to lean in, though, I think maybe 'intelligence' might be a good place to start.
As it turns out, actor Sam Heughan himself seemingly is not bother by the debate, and even had a little fun with the concept after the comments about him going shirtless went viral. He took to social media to talk about his new line of t-shirts “Aye Candy.” You can’t see it because I’m typing, but I’m definitely giggling a little.
In the post, which features Jamie Fraser in totally full dress, the actor seems to take the full debate as it has been raging in stride with a fun post. Amusingly, Diana Gabaldon herself later retweeted the note from the Outlander actor, but what I really want to know is whether or not he plans to take the “Aye Candy” joke to the next level. Seems like a great additional marketing opportunity.
Regardless, the facts are that Jamie is shirtless a lot on Outlander. Some of these scenes are because he’s doing work and it’s hot or because he’s wounded or whatever. Other scenes feature Jamie and Claire in passionate love-making. The point is, their torrid love affair is a big reason why people watch, but the comments boiled down to calling Sam Heughan – a capable actor who does everything from love scenes to crazy battle sequences – “eye candy.” At the time, Jeffrey Hirsch also mentioned about creating content specifically geared to women:
You have to be really thoughtful about when you're looking at a piece of content and whether it's really going to be female or not. And it's not easy.
That in particular seems to have rubbed Diana Gabaldon the wrong way, as she noted her readership isn’t constantly talking about Jamie taking his shirt off in the books when she hears feedback from them.
While Diana Gabaldon ultimately called the Starz head honcho out, Sam Heughan seems to simply be having fun with the back and forth between the network who produces the show he stars in and the author of the Outlander novels. Alls well that ends in “Aye Candy” jokes.
Plus, it's worth pointing out that Sam Heughan has shown a penchant for walking around the Outlander set shirtless in the past, so he seemingly isn't too bothered by whether or not he is perceived as eye candy. Period costumes aren't likely the comfiest of outfits, although I bet they beat what the likes of Grant Gustin and Stephen Amell have to wear.
Although, I will take the time to be the bearer of bad news and re-mention that it will remain a "droughtlander" for a bit longer. We recently learned that Outlander won't actually be back this fall. (I know, I know, don't blame the messenger.) Instead, Outlander Season 5 will be hitting Starz in 2020, and Hirsch also recently explained the reason the show is being pushed back has to do with the niche audience and scheduling "around that digital experience." New episodes of Outlander also became available on Netflix for the first time recently, making it the first time the show has been available without a Starz add-on subscription. Now is a great time to catch up.