Well, it happened. A couple weeks ago, the new Doctor was announced. And it’s Jodie Whittaker, the first woman to ever play the role. And what happened? Exactly what I predicted. This is why I didn’t want a 13th Doctor. This is why I said it would kill the show. Many fans are rage quitting, although some don’t care. And Radio Times is saying “If you don’t accept her, you’re not a real fan.” (Real smooth) Some fans like myself are claiming that Doctor Who is once again caving in to pressure from special interest people and giving in to the new gender politics. Some of my fellow Christian fans of Doctor Who have considered this the final betrayal and are giving up on the show entirely. I’m conflicted myself. As I said, I didn’t want this. But I also said I’d watch to see if I’m proven wrong.
First, let’s refute some arguments. No, I don’t have a problem with a female lead. I currently watch Bones, Supergirl, and Jessica Jones. And one of my favorite Star Trek spin-offs was Voyager.
I also don’t mind gender swaps when they work. The Doctor Strange movie had Tilda Swinton playing The Ancient One, who was originally male in the comics. That idea wouldn’t have worked in the movie, because he was stereotypically drawn to look like the typical Asian character–Fu Man Chu mustache, yellow skin, you know the look. That would’ve led to more problems, and Swinton was up to the challenge. Voltron: Legendary Defender changed Pidge into a girl named Katie Holt, who now uses Pidge as an alias. This was fine because the original Pidge was an androgynous effeminate boy, so I think making her a tomboy works better.
No, my problem is that I perceived the Doctor’s masculinity as part of his character. To all you women who love this idea, I want to ask you something. Let’s say they rebooted the Alien movies, and had Vin Diesel playing Ellen Ripley. That would be a bad idea because the whole point of those movies is that Ellen, a woman, is saving the day instead of a man. It’d reduce the movies to a generic sci-fi action flick and nullify its significance.
To me, this feels like a stunt. Doctor Who’s ratings haven’t been all that great since Peter Capaldi began his era. The last two episodes lost out to Antiques Roadshow of all things! It’s an attempt to boost the ratings through controversy.
However, I talked with a couple friends who were fine with the change. They reminded me that the Ninth Doctor said he didn’t know what he’d regenerate into. The Eleventh Doctor, upon regeneration, initially thought he was a girl until he checked for an Adam’s apple. And of course, before that we had Missy. If the Master could change genders, why not The Doctor? We have to remember the Doctor’s not human.
Besides, this is NOT a new idea, I’ve discovered. In the 70’s Sydney Newman, one of Doctor Who’s co-creators, suggested a female Doctor after Pertwee stepped out of the role. In the late 80’s after Colin Baker was fired, the idea was proposed again, but because the ratings were so poor, they decided not to break tradition and went with Sylvester McCoy instead.
Hear me out–I have rarely accepted the new Doctor right away. When I was a kid and Peter Davison took over, I was confused because I didn’t know this was a common thing. (My PBS affiliate was years behind the actual show) Colin Baker came in, and his first episode was one I couldn’t get past because he strangled Peri. Sylvester McCoy didn’t work with me until Ace joined. When the show was revived with Eccleston, I was unhappy because I never got to see Paul McGann. Even Tennant and Matt Smith I didn’t like at first. Capaldi was the only Doctor I was 100% on board with. And now I’m thinking Chris Chibnall is more interested in controversy than good story-telling.
I’m not leaving. I’m a fan, and fans don’t leave. I stuck with lots of shows that weren’t doing well, like Heroes. (I wish I didn’t. Ugh, that show went downhill!) Instead, I’m issuing a challenge. Jodie Whittaker, I want you to prove me wrong. I will go into Series 11 with an open mind, as I always have. However, if it becomes what I fear, I don’t know.
Please, Chris Chibnall, and Jodie Whittaker, prove me wrong. Oh, and next time, please make the Doctor ginger, OK?