Every time there is a new Doctor Who, people hope it won’t be a white man, but how hard are they really hoping? New Who Peter Capaldi fits the role of father figure Doctor to a T, and despite the cries of endless fansites, show runner Steven Moffat just couldn’t do a gender switch:
“It’s absolutely narratively possible [that the Doctor could be a woman] and when it’s the right decision, maybe we’ll do it. It didn’t feel right to me, right now. I didn’t feel enough people wanted it.”
The Who and Sherlock showrunner even claimed that many female Doctor Who fans were actually opposed to the casting of a woman in the role:
“Oddly enough most people who said they were dead against it – and I know I’ll get into trouble for saying this – were women,” he insisted. “[They were] saying, ‘No, no, don’t make him a woman!'”
Remember a few months ago when I wrote: “Next time: why a female Doctor Who would destroy society as we know it.”
Because I knew it was true. For all the “grrl power” talk out there, Doctor Who fans mostly want to hang out, in the Biblical sense, with the Doctor, not BE him. The Doctor has always been a powerful authority figure and most of those are men, not women. Plus, sadly, women have a hard time accepting female authority figures. The Doctor is all a big Mary Sue story about some spunky Earth kids (male and/or female) who get to jaunt around with this awesome Timelord. A female Who just wouldn’t have the same appeal (sorry, gang) and would actually repel much of the fanbase.
Now, a non-white Who would be an interesting change, and expand the archetype a lot more. But that doesn’t seem to be in the cards, either.
Am I saying a show with a female lead character can’t work? No. But I’m saying that that show is probably not Doctor Who, because Jodie Foster and Angelina Jolie aside, male and female roles are often not interchangeable.
If you want to see actual gender role reversal, check out the Red Dwarf episode “Parallel Universe” in which Lister and Rimmer discover a world where the females are beer-swilling assholes and men have babies. It’s a true role reversal that, in the fine tradition of SF, makes you question assumptions.
In the meantime, for all the moaning about there not being a lady Doctor, sorry kids, Stephen Moffat knew what you wanted more than you did yourself.
PS: In response to many requests, this is who *I* would have liked to see as the new Doctor:
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.