The Doctor has a gleeful, almost childlike personality. He’s a hero with a sense of humor – which makes the character fun and compelling to watch. But that kind of character complexity has been typically reserved for male heroes. Female superheroes are very much pressured to be taken seriously because there are so few of them, they have to do well … Women are not only vastly underrepresented in sci-fi fantasy films, they’re often restricted to generic superhero personalities. …think about the Wonder Woman film … She’s powerful she’s strong … But she’s not a funny character … That seriousness is consistent across most woman characters on-screen. (synopsis via Laughing Squid)
Science fiction is one of those fantastically-malleable genres that can, by virtue of its endless possibilities, tell a multiplicity of stories about a diverse range of people and places.
And yet, while it often delivers on this promise, one area in which it has consistently failed, at least on TV and in the movies, is to give women the same representation and complexity of character as men, or even prominence. (In 2014, for instance, only 14% of the roles in mainstream sci-fi films had a female protagonist/Vox)
Take Doctor Who for instance where all the Doctors to date have been older or younger white British men; sure they’ve largely played the role very well but what’s been missing until now? Bingo! True gender diversity!
This fascinating new video from Vox does a great job in its almost 6-minute running time of making the key point that female protagonists aren’t allowed to be as funny or goofy as the men – see Hunger Games or Guardians of the Galaxy – which is why a female doctor is such a refreshing change and so important from a social perspective for girls looking for a character to emulate.
Not to mention that she is marvellously fun, smart and endlessly-entertaining, promising a whole new world of far more representative storytelling.
Doctor Who season 1 is currently screening on BBC in UK, BBC America in USA and ABC in Australia.