In mid-July, the BBC announced that the 13th Doctor in its series “Doctor Who” will take the form of a woman, played by actress Jodie Whittaker. The revelation of a female doctor has been met with mixed reactions from viewers.
Since 1963, “Doctor Who” has seen many actors take the lead role but one thing has always been constant: the Doctor has always been male.
To many, the news of a female doctor has been greeted with approval. “Doctor Who” is just one of many shows to contribute to the recent growth of female representation in the media.
“It’s a bit of a trend,” said Ross Haenfler, associate professor of sociology at Grinnell college in an interview with the “Des Moines Register.” “We’re now seeing more women acting in male-dominated roles.”
That much is true. In a male-dominated industry where women have often been written off as minor characters, seeing women cast as the protagonist is groundbreaking.
Films like “Wonder Woman,” which came out early June, portray strong female roles that teach girls that they, too, can be heroes in their own right.
To others, a female Doctor has been met with disbelief and annoyance. Actor Peter Davison, who played the 4th Doctor from 1984 to 1986, voiced his opinion on the matter at Comic-Con last month.
“I like the idea,” Davison said in an interview with “The Guardian.” “But I feel that the character will no longer be a role model for boys.”
Other fans point out that previous incarnations of the Doctor have always been male and suddenly making the Doctor female makes no sense at all. Critics argue that a female Doctor is an attempt to make the show politically correct.
Some viewers of the show have dismissed these comments as viewers being unable to accept change. Fans have also been quick to point out that the producers have alluded to the Doctor being able to change genders in previous seasons, so the 13th Doctor’s gender falls within the continuity of the show.
Then there are fans who have taken a neutral stance and have decided they don’t care about the change in gender.
“I think it’s a big leap, going from 12 men to a woman,” junior Nicolas Goncalves said. “Other than that, I don’t think it’s a big deal.”
Regardless of how people view Jodie Whittaker taking over the role, one thing is clear: a female Doctor will drastically change the dynamics of the show. The Doctor’s companion, who has always been female, could possibly be written as male.
Questions regarding the 13th Doctor’s sexuality have also come up. The thought of a bisexual Doctor falling for her female companion has not escaped the thoughts of viewers.
Regardless of their opinions on the matter, fans will have to wait until the series returns this autumn to judge Whittaker’s performance.