Why ‘Outlander’ Author Diana Gabaldon Blasted Starz Exec

There’s more drama to come during the time of Droughtlander. Starz Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Hirsch recently made some comments about Outlander that Diana Gabaldon wasn’t very happy with. Gabaldon is the world-renowned author of the novels the series is based on. Hirsch recently made comments to The Hollywood Reporter that Gabaldon and her fans didn’t appreciate.

Hirsch thinks eye candy is really appealing to the female audience

Diana Gabaldon
Diana Gabaldon | Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Starz Entertainment LLC

Hirsch talked about why he thinks audiences love Outlander and why it works so well. He went into detail about how much fans love seeing Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) with his shirt off. The comments stemmed from a question posed to Hirsch about whether Counterpart, a recently canceled series, would have worked better with a female lead.

“It depends,” Hirsch said. “There’s a lot of shows out there that have wonderful female leads that skew male. You have to be very careful. What we have seen with our Spanish Princess/White Queen series is great women in history play really well for that audience. We’ll lean into that as a quasi-genre. Outlander you can say that it’s great because women like it because she’s a surgeon who goes back in time but there’s also another side of that, which is there’s some eye candy for that audience and people like when he has his shirt off. 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. The nice thing for us is 65 percent of our show leadership are female. You don’t need me to figure it out; we have professionals doing that.”

Diana Gabaldon thinks Hirsch is truly missing the point

Gabaldon was clearly upset by the comments made by the Starz executive. The show is obviously about much more than a shirtless, yet handsome, Sam Heughan. He is clearly missing the point of what makes the show so great.

Hirsch also made remarks at the Television Critics Association summer press tour about the show and its female viewership. “Starz delivers the highest audience composition of women 18+ in premium cable,” explained Hirsch. He also spoke about the highly lucrative “premium female audience.”

Gabaldon tweeted out a response to his comments about female viewership, as this was not the first time he’s made such remarks.

“Well, I dunno, Jeffrey… At the moment, I’ve got 30+ million books in print, in 42 countries; I get a lot of mail. I can’t say I see a lot of people talking about Jamie with his shirt off, unless it’s mentioning the shock and poignancy of his scars.”

Gabaldon continued with information on different people that also enjoy Outlander, not just the female audience. “I do see a lot of people (male, female, straight, gay, you name it) who love the books and love the show—and what they like about the show is how much it reflects what’s in the books. (Might be worth noting that when a woman is watching Outlander, her husband or boyfriend is usually watching it with her…).”

Gabaldon concluded with why fans love the show so much, and it isn’t for the shirtless men. “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.”

Sam Heughan responded to the controversial comments

Heughan took to Twitter to put his two cents in about the controversial comments surrounding the show. He clearly wanted to get his point across, and he definitely did.

The post to Twitter says: “Can’t wait to show you my new line of t shirts. AYE CANDY.” He posted it along with a GIF, and fans couldn’t get enough. The post has almost 7,000 likes and nearly 600 retweets.

Fans are clearly on the side of the show, and they responded with positive comments. Mary Anderson wrote back: “Have been so frustrated by the little phrase and in one tweet Sam, you turn it round. Brilliant.”

Outlander will be back in 2020 for season 5 of the beautiful love story between Claire and Jamie Fraser. The show is a testament to family and is so much more than a shirtless Heughan, as even he can attest.