Diversity in Doctor Who

Since Doctor Who rebooted in 2005 it has made strides in representing diversity on television.  Strides that can’t be said for many other television shows.  We open with episode one, “Rose” set in England, 2005, on a rare scene for television.  Rose is a working class woman who really is working class, not a dramatized version of this.  She lives in a small apartment with her single mother and wakes early every day to clock-in at her job in a department store.  She’s casual, dressing in clothes that certainly aren’t the height of fashion for the time, she isn’t dolled up in makeup only a professional could do, and what’s more; she isn’t the tiny waisted, long-legged pretty girl we’re used to seeing on TV.  Rose sets the pace for the growing diversity we’re about to be treated to in “Doctor Who”.

Not long after we get Captain Jack Harkness, the first openly pansexual in the history of “Doctor Who” who equally and openly shows attraction to men, women, aliens, and the non-gender conforming.  This was a huge leap for sexual and romantic diversity in “Doctor Who”, and one of the very first times queer people could see themselves in a character on television that wasn’t harmful.  

Next comes Martha, the first black companion on “Doctor Who”.  She’s intelligent and able to keep up with the Doctor’s rambling better, perhaps, than most other companions.  For people of colour, Martha is a big deal.  She’s a strong, woman of colour, in a leading role on one of the most popular television shows of all time.  With Martha, the television series continues to push forward for more diversity in their cast.

The next three companions, Donna, Amy, and Clara continue to portray strong female leads with diverse histories and personalities.  Along the way we meet a couple more sexually diverse characters, and characters from all different walks of life.  

Now we come to the most recent companion, Bill, who is both a woman of colour and openly gay.  She is one of the very first leading characters like this on television, a huge influence for women, people of colour, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.  We finally have a leading character that many minorities can view themselves in in a positive way.

Soon we’ll be treated with something that came unexpected: a female Doctor.  Jodie Whittaker will soon take on the role of the Doctor and make history as the first female Doctor.  Many people are very excited about this.  We get a leading female, and also confirmation that Gallifreyans, or at least the Doctor, experience gender fluidity, which could be a nod toward the transgender community.

But when it comes to diversity, is it enough?  Though Doctor Who has done a great job positively representing different groups of people, we still are left itching for more.  Several groups who wish to see any kind of representation on television have been left out.  Doctor Who has come a long way, but I believe it can, and should, go much farther.  I hope that as the episodes continue to air we will continue to see a rise in representation in the cast.      

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Stereotypes and Gender

Women need a man to be happy. Women don’t know anything about sports. All women love kids and want to have their own. That’s too heavy for you to lift because you’re a woman. All women love to shop. These are just some of the stereotypes that women get lumped into. However, the majority of these are false.

Yes, being in a relationship can be fun and make you happy but don’t men get just as happy when they’re in a relationship? It could be that women are just more verbal about their emotions and that’s why they believe that women need a man to be happy. However, if you were to go up to anyone on the street and ask them if they are happy odds are they will say yes whether or not they are in a relationship.

The stereotype that women don’t know anything about sports is so extremely wrong I don’t even know where to start. I have had several instances where I go to a football game and I have to have my friend A WOMAN explains to me what’s going on exactly. Yes, this may mean that I don’t know anything about football, but if you were to talk about golf (yes, it’s a sport) I wouldn’t have any problems following along. This is simply due to the fact that they don’t know the sport because they haven’t been involved with it. If we were going to judge women for not knowing sports simply because they haven’t played it before would be the same as asking a man to explain how to contour makeup.

Men also have just as many stereotypes as women do. All men are jocks. Real men don’t cry. Only men can have a physical job. These are just the ones that I came up with off the top of my head. I don’t know about you but I can think of a handful of men that I wouldn’t consider jocks. I also can remember a time that I saw a man that works on the farm from 6 in the morning until 7 at night doing manual labor just to support his family cry over the death of his grandmother. Does this make him not a real man?

Too often in our society, we stereotype based on their gender and tell them that they must be this way or do this thing in order to follow our social code. You almost never hear that a man can’t lift something because of his gender, nor do you hear that a woman can’t cry because she’s a woman. This isn’t alright, but it continues to happen almost every single day.

Doctor Who FreeWrite

When I first started this class I was so excited to re-watch some Doctor Who episodes. I still am excited to be in this class. Last year when we signed up for classes I got up at midnight when it opened and Diversity and the Doctor was the first class I signed up for. Having a class that you have to take like IS, why not take it on something you like? I really like Doctor Who so when I heard there was a class all about it I couldn’t wait to sign up for it. Plus I get to tell people I watch TV for homework.

Doctor Who Update

At this point in the show I have been back and forth between emotions about several things on the show. For starters the new Doctor change, at first, upset me but as I kept watching the show the tenth doctor was similar in mannerisms to the ninth doctor. One noticeable difference was he jumped back to the suit look and turned the hyper dial up a bit. Nine and Ten get along with rose very well and treat her like an equal. Ten is very social with people of other planets and times such as nine was. Matt is just as witty as David Tennant but something about David Tennant seemed to portray the severity of situations a little more in a desperate matter…life or death.

Secondly, we see Rose and Mickey fade apart. Although when Rose left for the Doctor over Mickey, their relationship gets pulled apart but it doesn’t really hit Rose until he opts to stay in the alternate reality over continuing through the gap in time with the doctor. Rose even cries a little when he tells her but in the end, she goes with the doctor and he stays.

Next is the New Companion; Martha Jones. The episode we watched with Martha as the companion, the doctor verbally projects the fact that she is not as great as Rose. When they are battling the Ware wolf, the doctor says to Martha, “Rose would know what to say here.” Again, at the start of the show The Doctor and Martha are lying in bed and the Doctor says something to Martha about Rose in which she gets very upset and turns away from the doctor in anger. The feelings of the Doctor are feelings of how most of the viewers must have been feeling and perhaps was a “let me down easy” sort of attempt at getting people to stay on the show and continuing to watch.

A little note on Diversity, we still don’t see much color other than Mickey as prominent roles in the show before Martha Jones, and even though Mickey has somewhat of a big role in the show he gets picked on a lot by the doctor as if he is different and he gets basically dumped by Rose. And from the episode with Martha and the Doctor, she gets picked on as well.

On a reflective note, I am enjoying watching the episodes however sometimes they get a little dull where not much happens as far as action. My favorite genres are Action and Adventure… more along the lines of coming of age stories or learning stories and Doctor Who does follow that Pattern in Genre.

Don’t Blink

The episode Blink really grabbed my attention and I continued to think about it even after I was done watching it. I am easily frightened and I don’t like watching scary movie and it’s safe to say that I was definitely frightened during this episode. Regardless of the fear I felt, I feel this was the best Doctor Who episode I have watched yet. I loved how they used the weeping angels as the so called “bad guys” in this episode and I really liked sally. I would love if she became one of the Doctor’s companions. I thought this episode had a lot of interesting aspects to it. I liked how well developed the angels were. I think the writers did a tremendous job picking them and using them to instill fear considering that angels are often seen as protective. I also loved how after you are touched by an angel you go to the past. I really enjoyed how Sally and Cathy’s brother were constantly on a hunt for clues and hints as to how to save the Doctor. I thought it was very interesting how the letter delivered to Sally at the beginning of the episode was from Cathy who got touched by an angel and sent into the past. I am a little confused how Billy was sent into the past also but came back to present day much younger than Cathy. This episode really reminds me of Percy Jackson The Lightning Thief.

This episode reminds me of the scene in Percy Jackson when Medusa is chasing Percy and his friends. In that movie, they are not supposed to look at Medusa or they will turn to stone and will be frozen in time. Whereas in this episode of Doctor Who they cannot take their eyes off the stones or they will be sent to the past. Although there are many differences between the two I can’t help but think that the writers of Doctor Who and the writers of Percy Jackson had similar influences when writing these scenes. Another similarity between the two is that the angels cover their eyes because they cannot stand to look at each other and Medusa often wore sunglasses when she was not planning on turning someone to stone. In the end, they killed Medusa but continued to use her to turn other things into stone if they were ever in trouble. In contrast to this the Doctor purposely made the angels look at each other killing them and disabling all their powers forever.

Team Rose

As someone who was new to Doctor Who until this year, I didn’t think I would so quickly turn into one of those fan girls, but I have. One of the opinions I have realized that follows that is the favoritism of the companions. Although I have only seen three main companions, I have an opinion on who is my favorite and why. Although I have a favorite, it doesn’t mean that I do not also like other companions. In my opinion so far, Rose is my favorite companion. Not that I don’t like Martha a lot or appreciate what Donna brought to the table, but Rose has a special place in my heart. Maybe it is because she was my first companion, maybe it is because I love how even though she was an ‘average girl’ she could outsmart the Doctor and think of things he wouldn’t have, or maybe even because I adored the way she and the Doctor slowly fell for each other. Rose had passion, she was witty and sassy, she was smart, but most of all, she was brave. I am sure there will be other companions that I might come to like more than her, but I think she is a tough first to beat.

Diversity in Doctor Who???

The Doctor is always played by a white male always from somewhere in Britain, or is he? This year the BBC announced that the Doctor will in fact be a woman! What!? That couldn’t be announced unless the BBC is just trying harder at being politically correct, right? Turns out that’s not the only reason why they have finally cast a woman as the Doctor. The show announced that Steven Moffat the head writer and executive producer is stepping down and Chris Chibnall will be filling in his rather large shoes.

Classic who never explored a lot of diversity, yes, there was some but there were also episodes in the show that still anger people of today. For instance, the episode The Talons of Weng Chiang was to be color blind casting however they cast white actors to play the Chinese and they all were the bad guys in the stereotypical ninja way. The BBC fell into the hole that most shows and movies do by using only one part of the entire culture.  

Starting in the New Who there became a sort of ‘era’ of Russell T Davies who managed to include a lot of diversity. He had interracial couples to start off as well as some sexual diversity. Davies also cast Christopher Eccleston as the ninth doctor who grew up in the norther part of Britain and was got to keep his accent to start the show off as appealing to the lower classes of the British population. However, even though he showed he could be diverse the interracial couples never lasted they ended up marrying someone of the same color. But the main point is that he had multiple couples and diversity factors, right?

For series 5 and on Steven Moffat took over as executive producer and head writer. Moffat never included as much diversity by always having straight, white women as the companions. He did have different regions of the United Kingdom represented because Karen Gillan (Amy Pond) is Scottish and then Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswin Oswald) is English. Moffat began to introduce some new and some of the same concepts that maybe Timelords don’t need to stay within a single gender or race. For example, he had Melody Pond who regenerated into a younger black woman and then into River Song. Later the Master regenerated into a woman (Missy). This just leads me to believe that maybe Moffat didn’t know how to include diversity in Doctor Who until he gained a larger experience as head writer.

I cannot wait to see which direction Chibnall takes the female doctor on the show while watching as a fan and for aspects of diversity.