With Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi's departure from Doctor Who this Christmas, we get a new Doctor! The Thirteenth Doctor will be played by Jodie Whittaker, the first woman to take on the role in an official capacity. (There have been a couple non-canon female Doctors prior to Whittaker.) Since I just posted my rankings of the other Doctors, I've had a few people ask me for my thoughts on Whittaker's casting.(html comment removed: more)
The first time I'd ever heard of Jodie Whittaker was with the Thirteenth Doctor announcement. I've never seen her perform in anything, so I have no opinion of her specifically as an actor, positive or negative. I have to assume that they're looking for my opinion on the BBC casting a female Doctor. I'm neither one of the fans who is super excited for a female Doctor, nor one of the fans who thinks it's a huge mistake. The truth is that I have mixed feelings, and sexism has nothing to do with it.
I'm On Board!
The fans who say that the BBC has ruined their childhood or that they'll stop watching just because the Doctor is being played by a woman are just throwing tantrums. As I see it, if you can accept a time-traveling alien who can regenerate into different bodies, you can accept that he can change into a woman. Besides, the idea of a female Doctor has been on the table for at least thirty-odd years. You should have seen it coming, eventually. Give Jodie Whittaker a chance, she might be great! Or she might be terrible. It's a crap shoot, just like every Doctor before her.
With clever writing, a female Doctor opens up possibilities not yet explored on the show. What if she revisits a time in Earth's past when women were the property of men? Surely a clever writer could create something interesting and new out of such a premise, and that's just off the top of my head.
As far as a marketing gimmick, it's a brilliant move. Ratings have been suffering during Capaldi/Moffat's tenure, and casting a woman will cause a lot of curious onlookers to tune in. However...
I Have Reservations.
Marketing gimmicks don't translate to new repeat viewers. The trick will be to keep them watching. A show's failure or success boils down to the stories. Especially Doctor Who. If the creative team doesn't write good stories, the show will continue to lose viewers, and a female Doctor would make a convenient scapegoat. Since Whittaker's female Doctor is something new, she's going to face more scrutiny than anyone before. If the writing falters, it won't be her fault, but she'll take the brunt of it.
I'm also hesitant about a female lead because of the current political climate around gender politics. Casting a woman is a political move; you just can't help it. There's a certain feminist SJW YouTuber (whom I won't link to because I don't want to give her any help with pageviews) who immediately complained that the new Doctor wasn't progressive enough. I guess she wanted a transgender, black, lesbian Doctor? You can't give these whining attention whores even an inch. To them, a person's race, gender, or sexual orientation is far more important than if he/she is right for the role.
So, is a female Doctor the right choice? I have no idea. Let's give her (and the new showrunner) a chance, and celebrate her femininity while not obsessing over it. It could be another golden age of Doctor Who! Or it could be rubbish. We just will have to wait and see.
What do you think? Is it a good move? A bad one? Are you excited? Angry? Let me know in the comments.