“WORST DECISION EVER.” “Ruined it, completely ruined it.” “Gutted. Spoiled. Speechless.”
While all of these sentences could apply to that one time I went to the beach in speedos — these are genuine tweets from fans of the hit science fiction show Doctor Who.
— Cerian Jenkins (@CerianJenkins) July 16, 2017
For those of you who don’t know what Doctor Who is about, here’s a crash course. This alien, only known as “The Doctor,” zips around through time and space, getting into scrapes and saving people. Traditionally the role has been played by a straight, white male. Until today.
It was announced earlier that the title role would be played by a woman for the first time in the show’s 54-year run.
Jodie Whittaker was handed the keys to the infamous blue box in what’s promising to be a ground-breaking era for the television show.
However, not everyone’s keen to get on board the TARDIS with her, claiming this is the worst decision in the show’s history. Some say its political correctness gone mad, while others simply believe a woman hasn’t got the gonads to take on the role. Which is kind of the point?
Over the last few years, Doctor Who has arguably been more liberal in its subject matter. Recent storylines have dealt with controversial subjects such as abortion (“Kill the Moon”), terrorism (“The Lie of the Land”), racism (“The Shakespeare Code”) and immigration (“The Zygon Inversion”). Doctor Who often uses an approach of dressing up a very human issue as an alien one, and opening up the discussion.
While some people argue this is ‘cramming political correctness down our throats’, I think Doctor Who’s ability to address controversial subjects is one of the show’s strongest features.
On that point, it seems logical to cast a woman in the lead role. With the show being so vocally supportive of gender equality, it needs to follow through with the themes it promotes.
The show, perhaps more recently, has blown the Time Lady discussion wide open. Here’s an exchange between two characters in the latest episode from the show:
MASTER: Do as she says. Is the future going to be all girl?
DOCTOR: We can only hope.
Some people are concerned that casting a woman is a gimmick, and a ploy to ‘pander to viewers’. If by pander, you mean promote equality and prove that women can be bad-ass, well pander away my friends.
Personally, I believe this sexist shut down towards a female Doctor stems from the old attitude that ‘men are doctors’, and ‘women are nurses’.
Don’t believe me? Well here’s some proof: There’s also the claims that it goes against the ethos of the show, where executives have always cast a man.
Yes – because an alien with two hearts travelling in a police box would be ridiculous if played by a female.
Honey, if you’re okay with a lizard-alien kissing another woman, but are totally not on board with a female Doctor – you really need to sort out your priorities.
Some people are threatening to stop watching the show as a form of protest. Frankly, if the people turning off their televisions are sexist and misogynistic, I say good riddance. Bye Felicia.
That being said, I’ve talked to three people today (a mix of male and female) who all say that the revolutionary casting decision might make them start watching the show.
Change is what Doctor Who does best. The concept of ‘regeneration’ was created so the show could live on, with a new person filling the boots (or Converse) of the lead role. Casting a woman is one change that was needed. I’m sick of a white dude with eccentric clothing choices sprinting away from a Dalek. It’s time for change, and this is the best decision yet.
Science fiction is designed to broaden the mind and challenge the audience. If we’re still finding females playing strong lead roles controversial, then this decision is needed now, more than ever.
Jodie Whittaker is a fantastic choice. She’s got the skills, the ability and the knowhow. Frankly I can’t wait to see where she takes the show – which by the looks of things is into the 21st century.
You can follow Andrew Macfarlane on Twitter here.