I won’t belabor the discussion on this topic too much. It has only been in the news for about three days, but I’m already sick of hearing about it.
The next Doctor has been cast as a woman. Some love it, some hate it, and some are simply waiting to see how they do. I’m personally in the wait and see camp.
See, I’m absolutely fine with The Doctor being female. Why? Other than the fact that it’s TV and fiction and if they want to cast a woman they can, The Doctor is an alien. The Doctor is over 2000 years old now, and has two hearts. The Doctor is not like us, except for the fact that a human plays him, and now her. But that’s more for the convenience of not having to put them in makeup than anything else. Time Lords look like humans.
But they aren’t.
The Doctor has long been beyond human social norms. In fact, much of the humor of Doctor Who plays upon the typically unobserved social divide between Time Lords and Humans. The Doctor is fascinated by humanity because we are different, and because we are so fragile, and yet to resilient at the same time. It’s the same thing that fascinated Gandalf with regard to Hobbits in fact. Quaint. Simple. Yet…indomitable.
But I digress. The Doctor can be a woman. Jodie Whittaker’s reveal was very cool, and I think she looks like she can be The Doctor. I’ve only seen her act a little bit, but from my limited experience with her work, she seems to have the chops for it. I haven’t seen her comedic prowess, but she has an expressive face, and established dramatic credentials. I think she’s an excellent choice. Therefore, let it not be said that I am opposed to this casting.
While I trust that Jodie Whittaker has the tools and talent to pull this off, I am less confident in the writers and execs in charge of the show. Based on the last season, especially, I am concerned that they have made this casting with ulterior motives in mind. I enjoy Pearl Mackie’s work as Bill. I found Bill enjoyable to watch, and a fun companion. She was adorable, yet deep. I love, as the Doctor also loved, that she smiled at danger. It was a nice, refreshing take.
I was less impressed with the heavy-handedness of the writing this past season. It seems to me that in two thirds of the episodes, we had to sit and watch Bill patiently explain, as if to a four year old, how much of a lesbian she was. Never, “Nah, I’m not interested, mate, I’m a lesbian.” though. Always, “…yeah…well…see…I’m not…really into…man bits….actually…”.
Let me be clear. There can be lesbians on TV. I’m not opposing a lesbian on TV. What I do oppose, is writers acting as if I can’t handle it. Or maybe it’s that they think I’m too stupid to understand that Bill likes girls. I hate when I can see the writers so clearly in a script, if you know what I mean. And I felt like I was watching the writers the whole season. It felt more like Saturday Night Live sketch writing at times. The constant over-explanation of homosexuality, the pigeon-holed Trump pot-shots, and the attack on a fictionally extremist version of capitalism come to mind.
My only fear is that the same team that brought us that awful writing, has essentially vowed to continue their ham-fisted political cramming, and that they’re going to write The Doctor, not as a 2000 year old Time Lord who loves humanity and is in awe of the universe, but as a human woman who must constantly reassert the fact that she’s a woman. If we end up in a board room full of stuffy old caricatured British men while the Doctor has to lecture them on their rampant sexism, I will not be at all surprised.
What does that show us anyway?
What if The Doctor shows up in that same board room, says something brilliant, and then offers to help save them, and they simply recognize that she knows what she’s talking about, and listen to her? Isn’t that what message you’d rather see? It’s subtler, and it shows us hope and unity.
On the other hand, we could spend two thirds of our episodes gesturing wildly at The Doctor’s breasts. “I AM A WOMAN! I AM A WOMAN! CAN’T YOU SEE?! THAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT ME NOW!”
There is always hope, though. The Doctor teaches us that, right?