I could relate to the early days of Doctor/River, but not the marriage.
I love River, and I really adored her early relationship with the Doctor (from his side). I could relate to that feeling of anticipation, excitement and sometimes dread he felt at the idea of falling hopelessly in love.
But I can’t relate to the marriage. I’ve never been married. Having two married couples in the TARDIS was a bit alienating to me, and was undoubtedly alienating to many of the children watching the show. It sometimes feels like a contradiction of one of my favourite Russell T Davies quotes from Series 2:
When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all … “Grow up. Get a job. Get married. Get a house. Have a kid,” and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better.
And is the new tension in the Doctor and River’s relationship really going to be her body image issues? In The Angels Take Manhattan, River expresses her distress in regards to his youthful appearance:
When one’s in love with an ageless god who insists on the face of a 12-year-old, one does one’s best to hide the damage.
After all this time of having this awesome age defying relationship between two larger than life time travelling superheroes, I hope this doesn’t continue to be a source of tension between them. I don’t want Doctor Who to add to all the media out there teaching little girls that looking older will be something they should feel insecure about.
Their apparent (and meaningless) age gap was one of my favourite things about them as a couple. River hasn’t turned out to be one of the better developed characters in the show, and this doesn’t feel like a natural development to me.
Frankly, I’m hoping River’s story isn’t going to last any longer than the Eleventh Doctor’s life. I don’t want this show to remove the delightful sense of relatability the Doctor had for so many of us queer or uncommon folks over the years. Moffat’s Who is brimming with heteronormativity, in a show which can transcend those ideas with such indiscriminate ease. Here’s to change.