Doctor Who season 10 premiered this past Saturday and perfectly exemplified how a show can pull off LGBTQ+ inclusion without a fuss.
If you’ve read any of my articles you’ll know I’m big about diversity, LGBTQ representation and getting the entertainment industry to actually show the world as it is.
In fact, Doctor Who’s successful mission may not come as a surprise. The show’s new spinoff Class just premiered and features a gay character. Like the main show, Class didn’t make a big deal about their gay character. At this point Doctor Who is one of few franchises to correctly portray a world where their gay characters aren’t pointed out as different… if we just ignore the fact they announced the gay news like it was a big deal.
In Doctor Who season 10 Bill Potts, portrayed by Pearl Mackie, makes her debut as the Doctor’s newest companion. In the premiere we see Bill has a crush on a lady she’s seen around campus a few times, and it leads to the the girl showing Bill a weird alien-like puddle on the ground that she’s found. That’s all I’ll share about the episode for now, so watch it for yourself to see how their story plays out.
The two girls flirt and chat, and by the end of the episode it becomes one of the most perfect examples of how to represent homosexuality without emphasizing it. In doing this, they showcase that your sexuality is not your defining trait, and it doesn’t have to be pointed out for no reason. We can have a whole episode about Bill’s crush on this girl and it’s just like any other episode featuring a heterosexual crush, only gay.
And that’s the most important part about this type of representation. Making it equal to the heterosexual representation all TV shows have.
Contrary to popular belief, I’m not asking shows to create characters just for the sake of having gays in their roster, and I don’t want writers to feel like they have to write a gay character into their story because their fans demands it.
All I’m saying is that if you want to be inclusive, your world should reflect how diverse the real world is. If you’re going to have a gay character in your story, do them justice and don’t out them just because you’re proud to have a gay character like it’s a trophy to brag about.
A gay character should be a natural, normal thing that comes up in creating your world because (whether you know it or not) you’re probably working with or have been around someone from the LGBTQ+ community. I doubt they came into your life with bells, whistles and balloons announcing that they are dating someone of the same sex.
Representing LGBTQ+ in media has consistently been a challenge for almost every network. It wasn’t until Will and Grace that we finally saw a mainstream show work in the LGBTQ+ lifestyle in an attempt to normalize it, and that definitely succeeded.
Although Will and Grace stuck to harsh stereotypes at times, it was a great way for network television to show that being gay is normal, and that’s where I believe true inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community began. The success of that show proved that having a gay character (or several) isn’t going to negatively impact your ratings, but rather improve them.
We’ve moved from the representation that Will and Grace brought us in 1998 to the type that Doctor Who now brings us in 2017, almost 20 years later. It’s sad that it’s taken so long for the television industry to finally catch up with society, but I’m so happy that we’re making progress.
Shows like Doctor Who serve as a fantastic example. It shows the world that being gay is a non-issue. Listen up, world: You can talk about your lesbian crush all you want and no one is going to call you out for it.
What do you think of ‘Doctor Who”s portrayal of Bill?
Now that we’ve seen several shows properly incorporate gay characters and storylines I’m excited to see which show or movie is next. What did you think of Bill’s story in the Doctor Who pilot? Let us know in the comments below!