Since it's premiere in the 1960s (and re-premiere in 2005), the famous British television series Doctor Who has followed the adventures of the Time Lord from Gallifrey as he explores space and time in his TARDIS. With his trusted companion, usually in the shape and form of a beautiful female, by his side, the adventures have captivated viewers for years - and rightfully so. Hats off to Steven Moffat and the rest of the behind-the-scenes crew for creating such memorable adventures.
But with each adventure, the role of the companion - the female - becomes much more notable alongside the always-male Doctor. She helps him from the trouble he's in, talks some sense into him, and, even though she is captured and therefore motivates the Doctor to interact with the villain, usually ends up doing something totally badass and gets out of trouble on her own.
So why, with this in mind, can we not switch the roles - a female Doctor and a male companion (or still a female companion)?
Well, after the announcement of retirement from the role that Peter Capaldi, the actor who plays the twelfth Doctor, made this past week, talk began to swirl. Most of that talk revolved around casting a female replacement for the iconic role - an idea supported by Capaldi, David Tennant (tenth Doctor), and Paul McGann (eighth Doctor). And by no surprise, many others supported the idea as well.
AND IT'S ABOUT TIME.
While generations have grown up with the loving, witty, sometimes over-hyper male Doctor on their screens, who is to say that fans cannot fall in love with a female hero as well? Women do act as literal Doctors nowadays, whereas in the 1960s that was not as common. The tradition of casting a male for such a title is completely understandable, but now the times have changed.
Not only that, but within the series women are often portrayed as villains unless they get the lucky role of companion. And even then they may start out as somewhat rude, cautious, or utter unheroic. Don't get me wrong, I love a good villain, but the pattern of adapting the role to a female who seduces the Doctor and then ultimately tells him some sob story and distracts him enough to trap him or call in the Daleks or Cybermen - the real villains that viewers should be frightened of. When you look at it, the females are often only sidekicks to the real villain in some cases as well. The only exceptions I can think of is Missy a.k.a. The Master/Mistress from modern-Who or Rani from the original series.
The portrayal of women in Doctor Who as a love interest or sexual object is also a common theme, thus making the male Doctor seem more superior, stronger, wiser. Only when we see him lose the companion - the woman, his driving force - do we see any bit of weakness from our Doctor, and even then it is short-lived as he moves onto the next companion one to two episodes later. Often times these love interests are merely thrown in for entertainment purposes. Everyone loves some romance now and again, right? Or we get the great camera angle showing off the companion's back side or legs. Sure we get some storyline with the women, but mostly its all about their romantic interest in the Doctor or some other minor character that takes up most of their screen time.
But what really makes me question why we have not seen a female lead thus far is because we have seen some kick-ass Time Lord ladies in the past - and those ladies have grown to be fan favorites! We see the Doctor's daughter, Jenny, introduced while Tennant played the role. She knew how to fight and get her way out of trouble better than he father even though they possessed some of the same traits (that includes her ability to regenerate). But we haven't seen Jenny since the episode when she appeared and rumor has it she died anyways.
Then there is River Song, the daughter of Amy and Rory who was conceived on the TARDIS and therefore garnered some abilities of the Time Lords. And when it comes to powerful females, River pretty much fills every qualification. She is smart, skilled, witty, and courageous. It seems that every time she runs into the Doctor and his companions she is the one that ultimately saves the day. As the story progressed, though, River turned out to be a trained assassin (um, badass alert!) that was tasked with killing the Doctor. But that is not without the writers giving her a small love interest in the Galifreyan and ultimately making her sacrifice her ability to regenerate. So there goes that story...
It's 2017, people. And while the story of the infamous Doctor and his time-traveling adventure has been occurring since the 1960s, it's about time we got an upgrade from the expected. Women are holding roles of power now. Women are no longer just here to be sidekicks and play the role of love interest to garner ratings and raise the drama levels of the story. But most importantly, when are the little girls that are fans of the show going to feel like they can belong in the world of the Doctor? When can they feel like they can be the hero too, and not just the companion?
There are plenty of women who would love to take up the role, and there are plenty of men - past Doctors included - that would support such a casting. It's time for Doctor Who to step out of the past and realize that a female Doctor may be just what it needs.