So. It’s that question. One of the biggest, most contentious questions in fandom. Even posting it up here, on my blog, gives me the Fear a little, particularly given my opinion on it. I should say I’m not a massive fan, I’m more of a casual viewer, but let’s throw this up here and see what people think.
Should we, can we, have a female incarnation of the Doctor?
First of all, I don’t think there’s any real reason we can’t. There will be fans that will give me canon-related reasons that we can’t, no doubt, but I don’t really care about that. This is science-fiction (SF that veers wildly into fantasy quite often – in fact, I suspect these days Doctor Who is actually more comfortable in the Science-Fantasy genre) and there is always wiggle room. If canon says no, there will be ways around it, and everything else is just an excuse.
My problem with a female Doctor is that it’s not enough.
Female characters haven’t had the best of times on Doctor Who lately. The promising ones, the ones who seem like they might be a match for him (River Song, Clara Oswin, Amy Pond, Martha, Rose…) always seem to get sucked into the icky vortex of Squishy-Doctor-Love-Time. They start off as interesting characters with their own agendas and wants, but actually end up going a bit weak-kneed over his wiggling eyebrows or giant forehead. Now, to be fair, I have a bit of a dislike for female characters always being relegated to the role of “love interest”, and no doubt this informs a lot of my irritation over this, but I think there is a lot of room for improvement.
What I would like to see is a female character who fully challenges the Doctor, who is on his level, and does not fancy him. Like Donna, but without the soul-crushing, humiliating ending that was foisted upon her character. What I would really like to see, for example, is a female character (female Timelord perhaps?) who can match him in every sense. She could cause trouble for him, perhaps, or they could clash over how to solve universe-ending problems, and maybe they’d argue… but eventually they would earn each other’s respect, and become friends. Andnotwantohavesexwitheachother. The message that women are equal and are as capable is an important one to be sending – and maybe they don’t always have to be the “assistant”. In the playground, little girls playing Doctor Who would have a female character to play that is equally awesome (I’m not saying that little girls don’t get to play as the Doctor, but I also remember playing Thundercats in the playground with the boys and I was always Cheetarah).
Could we have a female Doctor without it being a gimmick? Without boobs jokes, and jokes about shopping or shoes or babies? I’m not sure we could. Perhaps if we had a few more women writers on the team (Who seems to lack that at the moment) or even a female showrunner… I’m aware this all sounds rather defeatist, and I’m not saying it shouldn’t happen just because it might be crap. It just troubles me slightly that the only way we will get a decent female character in Doctor Who is if the Doctor becomes a woman – because the Doctor is the only one that’s allowed to be super clever and full of awesome.
I want good female characters in Doctor Who. They don’t have to be the Doctor, and they don’t have to be in love with him. I want female characters who are more than an accessory or a gimmick for the Doctor.
Anyway, I’d love to know what you all think.
(…is Idris Elba available by the way?)