I’ve talked about Claudia Boleyn before in my article “5 Awesome Women on the Internet” (x), but I found this critique of Moffat-era Who particularly fascinating: http://claudiaboleyn.tumblr.com/post/94351419256/the-emperors-new-clothes-the-myth-of-moffats. For those who haven’t encountered his work before, Steven Moffat is a screen-writer for both “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock”. His capacity for creating interesting (and terrifying!) monsters/villains is immense, although I still take issue with the implications of his writing – particularly with how he writes female characters. His characters tend to be limited in terms of race, orientation and gender, which does not lend itself well to a programme primarily targeted at a younger age group like “Doctor Who”. Claudia explores this in her response to a newspaper article concerning Moffat’s writing.
Diversity in Who has been called into question frequently in recent times – noticeably after Russell T Davies handed the role of showrunner over to Moffat. Another article concerning this change can be found here: http://craterofneedles.com/2015/03/16/queer-as-space-folk-the-rise-and-fall-of-sexual-diversity-in-who/.
As a passionate (read: obsessive) Whovian, it bothers me that a programme which taught me – at least in Davies’ era – to look in awe at the world I inhabit, to accept and marvel at my fellow human beings, and to believe that anyone can achieve anything would encourage such unpleasant attitudes. The past few series have included the objectification of women (see: the Doctor’s nickname for Amy Pond, “The Legs”, in The Impossible Astronaut), unwanted sexual advances (from both men and women – the Eleventh Doctor kissed Jenny, a lesbian woman, in The Crimson Horror without her consent and Missy forcibly kisses the Doctor himself in Dark Water) and a general lack of respect for personal boundaries.
The way the companions are portrayed has changed massively. The Ninth and Tenth Doctors broadened the horizons of their companions. The companions were not simply plot devices or eye-candy; they served a real purpose and were their own women. Take Donna, for example – she’d been told all her life that she was stupid, that she would never be special. After her time with the Doctor, she was remembered on distant planets as “the most important woman in the whole wide universe”. Moffat’s companions are infantilised and referred to as “girl”, then reduced to their relationship with the Doctor; Amy is “The Girl Who Waited” and Clara is “The Impossible Girl”.
I’m not going to stop watching, though. I want to see Who continue to develop and grow. It still retains the essence of its original purpose. It just needs to showcase it.
Come on, Doctor – pull yourself together!