Why are we so surprised that the Doctor will be a woman?
Since the announcement that Jodie Whittaker would be the new Doctor on Doctor Who, there has been an uproar over the casting of a female Doctor. I’m sure you’ve all seen the memes. But, why is anyone surprised? They all but advertised it was coming in the past season.
I’ll admit that I was a little behind and had to catch up on this past season. Fortunately, BBC America has been streaming season 10 online and through their app, so I’m all caught up now. It seems really, REALLY obvious that a female doctor was on the horizon.
In “World Enough and Time,” the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) mentions that it’s possible he may have been a woman before. To Bill’s (Pearl Mackie), “Time Lords, a bit flexible on the whole man, woman thing,” the Doctor explains that Time Lords are above all those silly human notions of gender. Later, the Master (John Simm) asks, “Is the future gonna be all girl?” To which the Doctor replies, “We can only hope.” Frankly, the foreshadowing was being laid on a little thick.
But, if you’ve been watching the show since it’s reboot, regenerating as a woman should not surprise you at all. We’ve gone from seeing Rose (Billie Piper) start out as a bit of a damsel in distress, only to turn into Bad Wolf. Time and time again the companions were the heroes of the day. At this point, are there even any companions that have not saved the world? Increasingly as the series continued, the Doctor has been saved by his companions, even from himself. River Song (Alex Kingston) could fly the TARDIS better than the Doctor, and the TARDIS itself manifested as a woman. The show has depicted women as being equally as capable and valuable as men, so the more surprising thing was that we hadn’t had a female doctor yet.
Additionally, we’ve already seen multiple gender swaps take place as Time Lords regenerated. The most obvious is the Master and Missy (Michelle Gomez), but we also witnessed a gender change in regeneration by the General (Ken Bones/T’Nia Miller) in “The Day of the Doctor.” The 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) briefly thought he may have regenerated as female.
In the real world, it’s still a controversy when a female actor is cast as the Doctor, but in the world of Doctor Who, it shouldn’t be. While I’m not looking forward to the inevitable gendering of critiques leveled at our new Doctor (Will she be bossy instead of authoritative?), I am very excited to see Jodie Whittaker take on the role of the Doctor.
Season 10 of Doctor Who is streaming at BBC America and on the BBC America app until the end of July, so get caught up before they’re gone.