Outlander has featured Lord John Grey played by David Berry in the last two episodes. A Lord John Grey series is something that fans would flock to.
Lord John Grey features prominently in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novels that the Starz series is based upon. Aside from his regular appearances in the Outlander novels, Lord John has a series of his own. Gabaldon has written what could best be termed historical mysteries in which John Grey is the lead character. These include novels, novellas, and short stories.
A potential series would work well as a limited-run item with something in the area of four to six episodes per story. This is along the lines of what has successfully been achieved with other mystery series. Sherlock, Broadchurch, and The Missing all immediately come to mind. It’s also a format that is being used for the Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) mysteries that recently aired on the BBC and are upcoming to HBO in the USA.
When Gabaldon wrote John Grey in as a character almost twenty years ago, there were not many like him. At the time, eighteenth-century gay characters were mainly relegated to foppish portrayals, or they were almost instantly killed off in what has been dubbed the “Bury Your Gays” trope. It was (and still is) even worse if you had a lesbian in your script. If you want an idea of how devoid the entertainment space is with such characters, check out Lez Watch TV’s database.
In any case, it’s about time that we had a historical series whose main character is gay, and who isn’t a stereotype that we’ve seen a million times over. Lord John is a Major in the British Army. He is brave, smart, capable, and fiercely loyal to his men, friends, and family. If you had to pick two words that sum up Lord John’s character in the novels, those words are honor and duty.
Another aspect of the Lord John books is that his sexual identity isn’t the main point of the story. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying his sexuality is swept under the rug — far from it. If you think Jamie and Claire have hot sex, the same can be said for Lord John Grey with two men that he falls in love with: Percy Wainwright and Stephan von Namtzen. What we’re saying is that Grey’s romantic pursuits are seamlessly woven into plot lines the way heterosexual relationships are.
Even though Lord John appears in Outlander, he’s not constantly in the story the way that other secondary characters like Brianna and Roger are. His appearances are far more episodic — meaningful, but episodic. This would make it easy for David Berry, who plays Lord John, to do both series without exhausting himself.
Every year Outlander has Droughtlander, that time in between new seasons when we have no new episodes to enjoy. We just came off of a Droughtlander that was over a year long. A Lord John spinoff is just the thing that would help to bridge the gap.
It’s past time that we had a historical drama featuring a gay character that we can all cheer for. It’s 2017! Come on networks, it’s a no-brainer. It’s more than about time.