Today’s blog post is not about any book, or written work. But it is about a television series that tells some of my favorite stories, and that is safely one of my favorite things. Which means it totally counts (it’s one of the perks of having your own blog).
On Sunday, in what is always an exciting and somewhat nerve-wracking occasion for fans of Doctor Who, or Whovians, as we generally prefer, the person who would play the latest incarnation of the Doctor was announced. I wasn’t sure what to expect, because not only are we getting a new Doctor, but also a new show runner for the next season (or series, if you’re in the UK). I have really loved all of the Doctors. The first Doctor I was ever aware of as the character was the Fourth Doctor, with his giant scarf, and eccentric appearance. I knew of him from my stepdad telling me about the show and character, which he watched when he was younger. When the series relaunched, I didn’t actually watch it the first few years it was on, mainly because I was in college, and pretty much all TV shows fell to the side when I had no cable and a thousand assignments. I’d catch up on some shows during breaks, but not a ton. But then I got Netflix and I decided I needed to finally watch the show for myself. So the Ninth Doctor, played by the fantastic Christopher Eccleston, was my first Doctor. And I am not exaggerating when I tell you that as soon as that theme song started, I was hooked. Some people make fun of the effects in that first episode (mannequins coming to life and plastic Mickey, anyone?), but I was in love. The show was everything I ever wanted, and more.
I was born to be Whovian. Really. I was actually born very prematurely, on November 23rd. Doctor Who premiered on November 23, 1962. It was like baby-me knew.
I have loved meeting each new regeneration of the Doctor, and studying the lore of the series. I try to watch older episodes whenever I can, because they’re really just as wonderful. It’s the same Doctor, the same character that encompasses a curiosity, an empathy, a kookiness, and a strength of character that I admire so much. I don’t usually pick favorites, because honestly, it’s the same person, just with a different face and different traits. I like discovering new sides to the Doctor, and finding out I love the character even more.
Yesterday, I found out that for the first time, the Doctor is a woman.
And I smiled.
I guess I could have reacted in a terrified manner, since every Doctor I’ve ever seen has been a man. But honestly, when I think of all the things I love about the Doctor, gender is not a defining characteristic. I mean, let’s be honest, this is a character who is a two-hearted, regenerating alien who can travel through time and space. Being a woman all of a sudden is certainly not the strangest thing that could happen on this show. Also, I kind of think the Doctor, in any of his masculine incarnations, would get a kick out of finding out that he was going to be a woman for once. My step-dad, much to my relief, shares my excitement at seeing a new take on the Doctor, much like we do every time someone new is cast. I remind you, he has loved Doctor Who since he was a kid, so I’m going to point out now that the Every time we have to say bye to the beloved Doctor we’ve grown attached to, it is hard. But you know what? That’s kind of part of being a Whovian, and I’ve come to love learning to give the new person a chance.
The internet, of course, was not all smiles. There were, as my sister said, many male tears. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that not every person who is unhappy with this change is a man. There are women who are fans who just don’t like the idea of the Doctor suddenly being a woman. But for the most part, out of all the comments and backlash I’ve seen, it’s been safely 90% men fighting the news.
There have been several recurring complaints.
“The Doctor has been a man for 50 plus years, and that’s how I’ve grown to love the show. They shouldn’t mess with a classic. They’re killing my memories and I’m done watching.”
-I’m sad that you’re going to give up on the show that quickly. It feels like your loss. I know that sometimes it’s hard to let go of an established idea in your head about how something should be. But also, things change. Not everyone is going to love every change. And yes, you have every right to stop watching if it hurts you or bothers you that much. I truly hope that you’ll decide to give the 13th Doctor a chance, if not now, then eventually. But if not, you do have a lot of other seasons of a male Doctor to watch in the meantime.
“The Doctors has to be a man, he’s meant to be a man.”
-No. Last time I checked there was simply no law or decided upon agreement that the Doctor HAD to be a man. OF COURSE the Doctor was a man when it started and for the longest time, because it started in 1962! No one was going to have the lead character of a somewhat strange science fiction series be a woman. I feel like it’s still kind of hard to have a woman lead a sci-fi series. I wonder why?
“Boys need the Doctor as a good role model to look up to.”
-I’m sorry, but I actually choked a little at this. Do girls NOT need a good role model to look up to? Are there not TWELVE (thirteen if you want to count John Hurt as the War Doctor) other incarnations they can identify with, IF you need every role model for boys to be a man. I generally tend to think girls are in less supply of awesome, smart, strong, fully developed fictional main characters played by women on TV shows to look up to, but maybe that’s just me. And honestly, the fact that the Doctor has been a man hasn’t stopped girls from thinking the character is amazing. It’s just nice that they’ll be able, for once, to more easily see themselves in that character. Again, this in ONE regeneration out of THIRTEEN.
“This is just PC pandering, and the show runners trying to lean to the left.”
-I honestly don’t even want to respond to this because there’s no winning here. Anything I say is going to be interpreted as “feminist/feminazi” “sjw” “snowflake” response. Even if my response is logical and well thought out. If PC/left leaning is your go-to reaction to anything you don’t like, I don’t know. It’s just so incredibly dismissive to use that excuse. As if a woman being the main character could never be a solid, well thought out choice. No, to so many people it simply must be pandering. Whatever, I guess I have to share a fandom with you, but I’m just going to stand over here now. Because I’m tired. And I prefer to try and stay nice.
“The casting is biased, I bet they weren’t even auditioning men.”
So, are you telling me all other casting throughout the history of casting in which the producers/directors had an idea in mind for a character is not biased? Hmm? It’s not like casting of a role being biased towards a certain type of person is a new phenomenon. It would honestly bother me more if I found out he was only open to white, blond, 5’6″-5′-10″ women from the UK. Why? Because then it starts ruling out all types of diversity. But I don’t know, giving a woman a chance at this amazing role for the first time in 54/55 years is fine by me. And that’s sort of the thing about show runners. They have an idea of what they want, and they go for it if they can. I do believe that Chris Chibnall has said that he always wanted to the Doctor to be a woman.
And guess what?
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. As with every other role, he auditioned people he thought would work. And Jodie Whittaker is the woman who blew him away. So she’s our new Doctor.
“I don’t know, she doesn’t really look the part.”
-Does anyone really “look” like the Doctor? The whole point is that the look changes. Give an actor a chance before you shoot them down. And by the way, I have seen Jodie Witthaker on Black Mirror, and Broadchurch, and she was a beast in both. Those were some emotional and tricky roles, and she pulled them off wonderfully. Therefore, it’s not like she’s some complete unknown, untrained person being tossed into this role.
ALSO, can I just point out that yes, the Doctor is being played by a woman. But it’s still a white, British person. She even has blonde hair. So really, it’s not THAT huge of a change. Imagine if it had been a woman of color. Would everyone’s eyes just popped out of their heads? Would a man of color been better for the people freaking out? Who knows.
The world, and the audience of Doctor Who is more diverse than it ever has been, and that is incredible. We shouldn’t be afraid to reflect the audience within the show.
So please, everyone, I know change is hard. But if Doctor Who has taught us anything at all, it is that change, or something a little different than what we expect, is not a bad thing. We all love a two-hearted alien who flies around in a box that is bigger on the inside and regularly interacts with non-humanoid looking aliens. So come on Whovians, embrace change, embrace adventure, and don’t forget, the 13th Doctor, played by a man, or a woman, is still the Doctor.
Want to learn more about how Jodie Whittaker feels about taking on the role, in her own words? Check out this interview she did with the BBC.
Until next time,