Doctor WHO? An Opinion on the Announcement of Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor

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Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor

Yesterday it was announced that the 13th Doctor in the popular British television show Doctor Who would be Jodie Whittaker. Up until now, the 12 ½ Doctors, including Steven Moffat’s controversial War Doctor regeneration (that’s the ½), have been arguably straight, cisgender, white men. I say arguably straight because all of actual romances, primarily from New Who, have been with women, though the New Who Doctors have occasionally flirted with men – that could easily have been joking or queer baiting. As for Classic Who, I don’t know much about it, but the First Doctor had a granddaughter (implying a son or daughter of some kind), and wasn’t involved in much romance as far as I know. So for all intents and purposes, he was likely assumed straight, though he may have been asexual as well, from what I’ve heard. But again – I don’t know much about Classic Who.

Now, we know nothing about the new Doctor’s sexuality just yet. And the fact that she’s a woman makes for some interesting gender questions that I’m not sure I’m ready to address. (What sort of dysphoria might the Doctor have, after over 1000 years of being a straight white male, suddenly regenerating into a woman? Would we call her a cisgender woman? Et cetera.) There are many questions about gender that can’t be just brushed away, though I’m afraid that they might be. Just a sort of hand-wavey wibbly wobbly “gender-y wender-y” stuff. And I mean, obviously gender is fluid and a spectrum, but as someone who has never presented as anything but cisgender, the Doctor suddenly being a different gender is absolutely fascinating from an in-universe perspective, and long, long overdue from a meta contextual perspective.

Furthermore, Steven Moffat will not be writing this new Doctor! Let’s all give a cheer! We know Steven Moffat can’t write women, and is a horrible misogynist, so the fact that he’s NOT the one writing the new arc and the new Doctor is actually promising. I used to love Doctor Who – it was my favorite show, but Steven Moffat ruined it with his inability to write good stories. He’s a decent ideas man, and an all right writer, but he’s a bad storyteller. What I mean by that is he can write good one-off or twoshot episodes when someone else is in charge, as he did under the first showrunner of New Who, Russell T. Davies, but given the power he can’t make it work. He has one plot line, which is the Big Friendly Reset Button. Everything is mysterious and unable to happen, but it happens! And then, by the end of the episode(s), it’s magically fixed! He even has an episode with a literal Big Friendly Reset Button starring Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor and companion Clara. He retconned the ENTIRE PREMISE of New Who –the Time War – by bringing in the War Doctor and making it so that the Time War never happened. That completely destroys the character of Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor and David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. And there was such a big deal of Moffat killing off the characters we love, like Rory or River Song, et cetera, even the Doctor! But they always come back. There’s no weight to it, and there’s no consequence if we know everything is going to turn out all right in the end. Steven Moffat actually wrote one of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who, “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances.” At the end of that episode, everyone survives, and the Doctor says, “Everybody lives, Rose! Just this once, everybody lives!” And that was the point. JUST THIS ONCE. Because up until that episode, people had died every. Single. Episode. And they stayed dead. Even if they weren’t major characters, they were people, with lives and stories, and they died. It was given weight. And just. Ugh. I hate Steven Moffat with a burning passion. He destroyed my love of Doctor Who. I haven’t watched since Matt Smith left and Peter Capaldi took over. Nothing against Capaldi, but I had had enough of Moffat by that point and couldn’t handle it anymore. But I digress.

Now I’ll have to go back to watch Capaldi’s episodes, because I am cautiously optimistic about Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor. And I’ll need the context.

But I am still worried. Gender is a complex thing, and I want them to address it. But I’m worried that if they do, they’ll mess it up. And I don’t know if that’s worse than handwaving the gender issue away by saying that the Doctor can regenerate into anyone. I mean, as far as I can tell, Moffat had the Master regenerate into Missy. So I don’t know the story behind that, but there is precedent. Moreover, there were mentions of other Time Lords earlier in the series regenerating into different genders and other things. But the Doctor has never once done that before.

I want a lot of things from this Doctor. I want this Doctor to remember Rose and Martha and Donna, and not just Amy and Rory and Clara. I want this Doctor to remember the Classic Who companions that I know nothing about! I want this series to be connected. I want this series to be about identity. What does it mean that the Doctor is a woman? She still loves humans more than anything, she still has a different personality, but at the end of the day, she’s still the Doctor. There’s a lot we don’t know about her, but there’s a lot that we do know. She’s an entirely new person, however, with a lot of pressure placed on her shoulders, and a lot to make up for. She’s an unknown. And so the biggest question is, once again,

Doctor Who?

DOO WEE OOO

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One thought on “Doctor WHO? An Opinion on the Announcement of Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor

  1. It will be interesting to see how much they take on gender issues. As you say, there are plenty of things that can’t just be brushed aside, but at the same time no one wants to make it all about that. Doing so would sort of sum up her character as being all wrapped up in gender, and not go any deeper into her personality. It would, in some ways, be another sort of indignity. I have high hopes that they take a good line. I’m sure there will be criticism on all sides, and some of it will be justified. For now, it’s all wait and see.

    Liked by 1 person

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