Yesterday Jenna-Louise Coleman was announced as the new Doctor Who companion! And so far…we have absolutely nothing to judge her on!
Well, except her physical appearance and ethnicity. But I’ll get back to that.
In the past, what standards have we held the Doctor’s companions to? The general list people are inclined to spout off often include smart, brave, independent, and sassy (ugh).
Amy has been a major source of controversy over the last two years. Does she fit the above attributes? No less than Rose or Martha, surely. She saves the Doctor from committing ‘murder’ on her first trip into space, showing her intelligence. She walks, blinded, through a gaggle of Weeping Angels, showing her bravery. She constantly talks back to the Doctor, illustrating her gratuitous sassiness!
Is she independent? I think this is where a lot of the controversy comes from. She’s engaged, then married, all the while utterly devoted to the Doctor. Unlike Donna, whose dependence on the Doctor was primarily a lifestyle choice, for Amy its an emotional dependence, more similar to Rose and Martha’s.
But the controversy surrounding her independence seems to be more prominent than with any of the earlier companions. Its a complicated, feministy-weministy situtation, but I have to wonder: Is there reason to hold her to different standards than the others? Perhaps because she is neither living in a counsel estate, nor an ethnic minority? She’s not a college drop out or a medical student. She seems to have a financial situation stable enough to be ignored, and her glamorous, conventional attractiveness is recognized enough for her to apprently make a living as a model, with no ambition of furthering her education. Compared to the earlier companions, Amelia could arguably be the most privileged, even before she meets the Doctor.
So what can we expect of the newest companion?
Russell T Davies’ dramas traditionally focus on class (Queer as Folk, Bob & Rose). Steven Moffat’s less so.
Sally Sparrow and Amy are Moffat’s only contemporary female leads, and class isn’t an issue in either of their stories, nor is it particularly relevant to his other work (Sherlock, Coupling). ”The Doctor Dances“ and “Girl in the Fireplace” allude to class situations, but the era is how we enter into them. I think its fair to assume that Jenna-Louise Coleman character will be a contemporary one (a trend unbroken for 30 years).
And she’s cute. She’s a pretty, young, apparently white. Nothing so far differentiates her from what we knew of Karen Gillan this early.
So without explorations of class and race, assuming the new companion is a second young, financially stable, white modern gal, what standards do you think we could hold her to? How do you think can kids get the most out of a role model whose character doesn’t explore the intersectionality of those marginalized groups with being a 21st century woman? Leave your answers below!