The Bechdel Examination: Rose & The End of the World

I’m pleased to announce that I have high hopes for the Bechdel Test scores. The first two (NuWho) episodes pass the test. I’d assign an extra few points to “The End of the World” for treatment of gender reassignment as completely incidental. Happily, 5 billion years in the future, we are a gender-enlightened people: When the Lady Cassandra O’Brien.Δ17 mentions her boyhood on Earth, Rose doesn’t register so much as a flicker of surprise or interest. (Sadly, Cassandra is a blatant racist. So I guess we’ll still have that.) I’ve always loved her character as a funny hyperbole showing the (il)logical extension of our obsession with beauty and thinness.

Also funny? Jackie. I fucking LOVE Jackie. Her attempt to seduce the Doctor is hilarious to me. I read this as some inherent feminism from the mind of Russel T. Davies as if he thought, See how ridiculous it is two have a one-dimensionally sexualized character for a minute there? This was my first Dr. Who episode, and the first time I saw it I read the Doctor’s reaction as an assurance that sexual tension wasn’t going to be a crutch to give the characters emotional depth. (I’m looking at you, every American television program ever.) The dynamic between Jackie and Rose rounds out the depth of their characters. Almost the entirety of the Bechdel-qualifying dialogue in Rose is Jackie and Rose arguing about money and Rose’s job. Their relationship feels very textured and authentic.

I wanted to present the introduction of the reboot with some care, but I’ll be condensing more episodes into each future “Bechdel” post.

Current score: 2/2

6 comments

  1. I only recently discovered this blog and am enjoying it SO MUCH. How did I live without it?

    Glad to be in at the beginning of your Bechdel Test posts!

  2. daisybones says:

    Thanks, Victoria! I’m so excited that the response is so positive. All of us are thrilled with the project. On to more grueling [not] research!

  3. Jackie is my hero. I love her more every time I rewatch her episodes.

    • Jackie is seriously badass.

      I never thought about the Rose/Jackie relationship passing the Bechdel test, but of course! Any episode with Jackie in it will pass the test (except Love & Monsters), because she and Rose have a developed, not-centered-around-the-Doctor relationship. I think the reason I loved Rose was because I found her so relatable. She and I both grew up poor. We both have families that only consist of mothers. (I grew up with an abusive and distant father, and my brother and I have never been close.) And Jackie’s and Rose’s relationship feels very real and normal for me.

      • I was raised a single mother too, and I very much identified with the way that Rose and Jackie felt like more of a partnership than mother-daughter – I achieved a kind of household equality with my Mum long before a lot of my school friends did.

        One of my favourite bits of The End of Time (which I’ll admit has to be viewed through a lot of DON’T NOTICE THE BAD BITS lenses) is the scene of Rose and Jackie on New Year’s Eve, which shows how close they are, before the Doctor crashes into their lives. And it’s lovely to realise that despite all the heartbreak that Jackie went through thanks to the Doctor (that missing year between “Rose” and “Aliens of London” devastates me now, as a mother myself) she got her happy ending, and that she and Rose are a family again.

        It’s funny really, because Jackie is shown as being bitchy and self-centred in “Rose,” putting her daughter down (airs and graces from working in a shop!) and so on, but she’s actually the most sympathetic mother of the RTD era – and the only one who develops a strong relationship with the Doctor as well. She starts out treating him like the disreputable bloke her daughter brought home (true) and then shifts to ‘son-in-law she has to tolerate’ without him necessarily noticing the difference!

        I count Jackie as a companion. If the Brigadier is, then she is! I love that shot of her sitting in the TARDIS, glaring at the Doctor after he has accidentally kidnapped her.

  4. daisybones says:

    Tansy, I love that Jackie is your hero:D I totally blew her off as a character except as comic relief but the more she develops throughout the series, the more I like her.

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