For several weeks now I’ve been orbiting in my own happy world of Doctor Who, and thus far have been pretty satisfied with the new head writer, Steven Moffat. Perhaps naively, I assumed most other people were as well – and then today I did some reading on Doctor Who forums, for the first time.
Anyone who’s ever read a forum understands what I found there. Some of the biggest fans… and biggest detractors. No huge shock, but one line of discussion surprised me enough that I felt I needed to talk about it here. Apparently, some feel that the writers have a problem with gender; that they have issues writing women, or actually have distasteful views of women, and that all these problems are exemplified in the newest Companion, Amy Pond.
It probably surprises no one that I disagree. Here are some of the most common complaints I’ve read, and my thoughts on them.
1. Amy Pond is nothing more than witty eye candy. She’s set companions back decades.
Okay, Amy Pond is striking, to be sure. But Rose, played by a former pop star, wasn’t intended to be considered attractive? Nor Martha Jones? Does Amy have more one-liners than Donna? Hardly.
I think what some are perceiving as a lack of depth from Amy are actually missing her back story. In the land of Russell T Davies, we met not only the companions, but their entire families. We knew their professions. They frequently visited home (or Cardiff, sigh). While Amy has Rory, we don’t have very many “snapshots,” as it were, of her life before she boarded the TARDIS. Personally, I find it more refreshing.
Unlike Rose, Amy is not defined by the people around her or her circumstances. She’s a girl who belongs nowhere – hence the repeated references of a Scottish girl in England. She’s an outsider, who is able to figure out where she belongs now that she has the closure of the Doctor finally turning up.
2. Steven Moffat thinks women are shrews and men are spineless, and Amy and Rory are a prime example.
Okay, so maybe Doctor Who hasn’t set out to break every single gender stereotype out there. However, I hardly think it enforces them more than the past seasons. So maybe Rory isn’t a manly-man (which I find interesting, actually) and maybe he’s a little insecure in his relationship with Amy. Maybe Rory should be, because Amy is clearly still a little aimless, maybe damaged, and not quite ready to settle down (and they say we haven’t got a sense of her character).
Nonetheless, I don’t think the writers are handling Amy and Rory’s relationship with scorn. In fact, I find them a refreshing contrast to Rose and Mickey. Rose not only dumped Mickey in favor of the exciting Doctor, she very obviously strung him along first. She came off like a pouting two-year-old when Mickey first joined them on an adventure. It was actually pretty distasteful.
The episode “Amy’s Choice” was not, in my opinion, literally about Amy choosing between Rory and the Doctor. It was choosing between two paths of life – the adventuring, rootless kind and the settled, family life. Ultimately, she chose Rory and that meant the latter. Really, she was okay with that. And Rory, in turn, was willing to accompany her wherever she needed to go until she was ready to settle down. This seems like a fair and balanced relationship to me.
This is quite different from the destiny of the companion in RTD’s eyes. He went to great lengths to talk about the abandoned past companions, who, apparently, could never be quite as happy in their mundane lives, and either pined for the Doctor’s return or attempted to stay in the world of aliens (or in the case of Sarah Jane, both). Despite Amy’s issues, “Amy’s Choice” leaves us with the sense that she now knows her time with the Doctor will be temporary, and someday she’ll return to a regular life – and be happy with it.
Just to add: I’m not someone who finds Amy’s character emasculating, nor do I find Rory spineless. While I don’t think the term “strong woman” means sarcasm and a less overtly dominant partner, I’ve certainly met strong women who possess both – and weak women, too. I don’t think the writers are using Amy’s one-liners to try to define her strength because they don’t know any better – instead, I see her sarcasm as a defense mechanism, a hint to her vulnerability and the abandonment issues the Doctor left her.
Now, what about you? What are your thoughts on the writing this season, and on the newest companion in particular?