In this episode I talk about my latest binges and obsessive romance rewinds, Outlander and A Discovery of Witches, and try to answer the question: am I going nuts?
Outlander S1 trailer
A Discovery of Witches S1 trailer. That Kiss comes right at the end.
All Souls Trilogy books.
The article I mention.
Another fun article on the topic.
Music mentioned in the Confessional:
Lissie's amazing cover of Go Your Own Way
I Found by Amber Run
Never Gonna Dance by Fred Astaire, from one of my favorite Astaire/Rogers movies.
You Go to My Head by Frank Sinatra. He practically makes love to every vowel in this song.
You're the Best Thing by The Style Council
More Than This by Roxy Music
Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel
Suite: Judy Blue Eyes by Crosby, Stills & Nash
Stardust by Nat King Cole. The best version of this song, ever.
The Mayor of Simpleton by XTC
Jungle Love by Steve Miller Band
I remember my BFF and romance soul sister years ago pulling a romance book off her shelf saying ooh, you have to read this!
It was Outlander— I think just the first and maybe second book in the series were out the time.
I clearly remember her bringing up the character of Jamie and just about swooning (along with 2 million other women around the world). I tried to read it and it seemed interesting but just didn't hook me – I was definitely NOT the time travel, sci-fi mystical fantasy themed anything fan.
Fast forward to now.
I was searching for something epic and romantic to binge during the pandemic. Suddenly I remembered Outlander—didn't they turn that into a TV show?
Cue the mania. I found seasons 1-3, and remember streaming season one episode one “just to see if I liked it.”
I immediately loved the fish out of water story and a woman tumbling back into history, time traveling from post-World War II England into the 18th-century Scottish Highlands.
The cliff hangers in Outlander are as epic as the show, so there I was, rinse repeat over and over and over, eight hours a day for two weeks. I couldn't stop watching or thinking about the central characters Jamie and Claire or the show itself.
Claire is beautiful, strong, witty, intelligent, courageous, so she’s compelling as a role model. But then there’s Jamie Fraser, a character so big and legendary he practically has his own ZIP Code. He really is an ideal man-- if wit, intelligence, strength, loyalty, moral character, and downright foxiness is your criteria for a lifetime mate. You know, for starters.
He would've had to cram me through the standing stones to get me to leave him in the 18th century, that's all I'm saying, Claire.
I was obsessed with this world. I watched it like it was my job. I went to bed watching Outlander, I woke up wanting to watch it…to say I was obsessed is an understatement.
I managed to watch 70 hours — all five seasons AND read the first Outlander book, nearly 1000 pages —all within one month.
I had to look this up because I was afraid I was losing my mind, but no, apparently I have a lot of company in these obsessions.
Binging is a pretty new thing and obviously concerning that maybe we’re detaching ourselves from loved ones and…reality. The Today Show invited a clinical psychologist to discuss this binging phenomenon—why watching multiple episodes of a show, or putting a movie on repeat, feels so good.
I'll post a link to the article in the show notes at confessionsofaclosetromantic.com but here's the nutshell: dopamine, the pleasure hormone, is released in our brains when we watch and re-watch a favorite movie or TV show or re-read that book or binge watch something that gives us pleasure. Every time we watch or read we get that dopamine high that reinforces the behavior, just like an addict.
The good doctor calls this a "pseudo addiction." She says the same neural pathways that cause drug and sex additions are the same as an addiction to binge watching a show— your body doesn't discriminate in terms of pleasure.
Once that dopamine starts pumping, I want more. More Scottish warriors, more beautiful horses, more tartan plaid…
Plus there's that little psychological thing when we identify with actors or location or certain characters, we experience them as if we lived it, like actual experienced memories.
The more we watch, the more familiar the setting becomes, so the more comforting it becomes. It's an escape from stress, so it feels good.
Nothing felt better during the early days of the pandemic then living in 18th-century Scotland and being romanced (in my dreams) by Jamie Fraser. And then there is the complete blast speaking to other Outlander fanatics on Facebook, analyzing every minute of this show — there is not one standing stone left unturned.
These ladies are such a witty, intelligent bunch. I can tell them without threat of being committed that I've rewound a particular episode eight times or told perfect strangers about Outlander hoping that they'll find as much joy in it as we have— I'm worse than the church people who come knocking.
But then, the inevitable happens: the series comes to an end, we've watched every available minute and believe it or not, psychologists say we actually mourn the loss.
I totally experienced this with Outlander, which is why I started watching season 1 again just a bit after finishing all five seasons – I mean it IS the best one! OK put away your pitchforks...
It's why some people work their way through the entire 8-book Outlander series and start it all over again.
Diana Gabaldon put her whole heart and soul into creating this world— you can just feel it. It's full of vivid characters who're so memorable, you don't want to leave them.
Which leads me to A Discovery of Witches. There is just one season so far (season two is coming soon). I have never read stories about witches and vampires but I've fallen hard for this story.
The series is based on the All Souls Trilogy books by Deborah Harkness, which are fantastic.
They are full of romantic tropes that leisurely unfold over pages and pages--which is still never enough for me.
The basic story is about creatures – daemons, vampires and witches– all of the freaks, the slightly offbeat beings that make the human world so magical—and how they’re starting to die out, which humans haven't noticed yet because creatures hide in plain sight. What a great metaphor.
Vampire Matthew is a bio scientist at Oxford and he’s trying to figure out why. Diana is a witch from New England and visiting science scholar at Oxford and she begins to fascinate Matthew.
One day, she calls up an ancient manuscript at the Bodleian Library to help her with her research—one that hasn’t been seen for centuries—so all the creatures of the world start to pursue her for its secrets.
I completely and utterly bought into this story from the first scene and I have no idea how it weaves it spell except that the production design, editing and music are stunning. And the two leads are just…well, gorgeous. Matthew Goode as sexy vampire? Yesss.
Not to mention there is a kiss to end all kisses that comes at the perfect point in the plot, a major trope fulfilled and one of the most beautifully staged kisses I've ever seen on screen.
The audio alone doesn't do this justice but it'll give you the flavor.
This vampire speaks every one of my love languages and sets me on fire with his talk of keeping Diana safe. This is the first scene where we understand that they're falling in love. It would be a dangerous cross-creature partnership – the forbidden relationship trope.
The coolest part of the story is how Diana has to come to terms with her magic powers that she has denied her whole life, so she can accept and defend herself in the creature world. Matthew tries to help her because he's falling in love with her. Which is forbidden and dangerous in the vampire world -- you didn't know that? Neither did I. Gahhhh.
I've said on previous episodes that I've rewound that scene about 29 times, but that may be a "for public consumption" estimate.
My BFF has a theory that some works of art have a pinprick of the divine, a light that shines on you when you open the book or watch the show or movie—they radiate a soulfulness that other art doesn't.
Outlander and Discovery of Witches have enchanted me so much that I really think this has something to do with it.
I recently found out that my 81-year-old mother is working her way through Outlander. This is after she asked me if I was watching Peeky Blinders — no mom, that's too violent for ME. She says the Outlander battle scenes are bit much but she really appreciates the sex scenes. Mmm-hmmm…
If you need to reach me, you'll find me in Outlander Season 1, The Wedding episode. I wish. Or A Discovery of Witches Season 1, episode 3. I wish.
People of romance, you know exactly what I'm talking about. I think the rewind count on these is up to 15 — maybe add a 0 to that…?