The Doctor’s Fresh Face and What this Means for Women in Television

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Clara Albacete '19, Assistant Editor

This past summer, Peter Capaldi’s three-year run came to a close on BBC’s Doctor Who. Despite a shaky first season, fans have grown to love his clever and intense Doctor and are very sad to see him and his spunky companion, Bill, leave the show. Capaldi’s final episode will be released around Christmas.

In the meantime, BBC has announced the person to replace Capaldi…

 

*spoilers*

 

…Jodie Whittaker!

 

Yes, you read that correctly— for the first time in Doctor Who history, the Doctor will be portrayed by a woman. The announcement proved to be very controversial as many fans were angered by this turn of events while others were overjoyed. All previous Doctor Who actors have reacted very positively and it seems, despite losing some viewers, that the show will continue to thrive.

All of this raises the question: why is the casting of a woman so important as well as controversial?

To start, we must address the fact that a little over a year ago, the newest writers of Doctor Who pledged to make television more diverse and inclusive. We have already seen this pledge in action with Capaldi’s companion, Bill, a lesbian African American woman. Now with the casting of Whittaker, the writers have taken a step outside of the norm by placing a woman in the prominent role of a science fiction show. There are shockingly few women in principal roles, not only in sci-fi, but in all of the television and feature film world. By giving Whittaker the role of the Doctor, the writers are breaking through a generally male-dominated area and taking one small step in the direction of female-male equality on the big screen.

As we have seen with movies and tv shows such as Wonder Woman, Moana, Hidden Figures, Jessica Jones, and more, women-lead productions have been very successful and appeal to a wide audience. Hopefully Doctor Who’s newest season (airing spring 2018) will receive positive reviews and the show will continue to break boundaries as it moves forward.