Obviously, the Doctor Who fandom is still bathing in the afterglow that was Day of the Doctor. It is at this point that I want to bring up something that has been discussed by a couple people, but never by me.
I am of the opinion that, as long as Steven Moffat is the executive producer of Doctor Who, the show will not be able to grow as a series.
Pope Alexander recently wrote an article on Moffat’s inability to properly kill characters, so I’m going to avoid that. Instead, I’m going to focus on his inability use the full scope of the human condition. Specifically, the lack of LGBTQ+ relationships.
And this lack of LGBTQ+ relationship is not an LGBTQ+ or heterosexual issue. It’s both.
An example of this is how Captain Jack Harkness was written in certain situations. I always believed that Harkness was not so much gay or straight or bisexual, but rather, by the 51st Century, humanity has moved past labels. Cool. In theory, it’s a nice vision for the future, although Lady Saika does have a point about some of the problems that arise with the wording used to describe Harkness.
So why do I always feel that Captain Jack Harkness’s references to relationships were always cheeky jokes?
“But wait,” you may say. “Wasn’t Russell T. Davies the executive producer during Harkness’s stint on the show?” Yes, he was, but Moffat wrote Harkness’s first episode, “The Empty Child”. Hell, Moffat’s first story for Doctor Who was “The Empty Child”. Moffat and Harkness are linked.
So why use Jack’s pansexuality as a punchline? Why not use it for character development?
Or, and this is just a thought, why not create a character who finds and loses love because it’s acceptable in one part of the universe to have an LGBTQ+ relationship—but it’s unacceptable in another part? That would mirror society, and isn’t that what sci-fi is supposed to do?
I feel that Moffat, as both an executive producer and a writer, is afraid to deviate from the formula that has worked for so long. There has always been a male Doctor and female companion. And since the reboot, companions have statistically had a romantic thing for the Doctor—sometimes briefly, but most for a lengthy portion of their tenure.
Which is why, I think, companions have stayed female. And for the most part, the male companions that come along—Adam, Mickey, and Rory—are following the female companion.
Moffat, in my humble opinion, is afraid to rock the boat. Why, though? Since the reboot, Doctor Who has exploded to international heights that haven’t been seen since PBS began showing Tom Baker. Furthermore, the BBC needs Moffat for both Doctor Who and Sherlock. And Moffat seems okay with hinting at romantic tension between Sherlock and Watson, albeit in the most dickish way possible. Why is Doctor Who different?
Also, Moffat has said some pretty bone-headed things. Think I’m kidding? Here’s an article devoted to listing Moffat’s top ten most sexist quotes. And here is a Q&A of Moffat dodging questions about LGBTQ+ characters like his name is Neo. His usage of one-liners to poke fun at the LGBTQ+ community is just ridiculous. Remember Susan the Horse?
First of all, that joke is solely there for the sake of having a joke. Secondly, the damn horse asks that the owner “respect his life choices.” The horse, physically a male but identifying as a female, is OK with the Doctor calling her a he and saying it’s a life decision? I call bullshit. In essence, the Doctor has misgendered Susan while simultaneously telling someone else to respect her wishes. That joke was there to get a juvenile laugh and nothing more. I’m not saying Susan should’ve become a companion, but at least write the joke like you give a fuck, Moffat.
Now, some may think that calling him scared and sexist may be burning the candle at both ends, but I disagree. We’re geeks, so we can all admit there is that one guy we used to, or maybe still do, hang out with. He says some of the most sexist things ever, but any time he meets a girl or is put in a situation where he has to shake up the world in his head, he clams up.
I think Moffat is scared. He’s a lifelong Whovian who landed his dream job. Moffat doesn’t want to be “the guy that ruined Who”, even though I’m pretty sure breaking the mold would strap a rocket to Doctor Who’s butt and send it to the next level.
In the end, it’s Moffat’s call. I’m just humbly suggesting that he stop being afraid and do something productive with this asset that he helped bring back to mainstream success.
Does this mean we need a new LGBTQ+ companion, or that we need more queer relationships? It wouldn’t hurt to at least explore the concept. That’s all I’m saying. The female-companion-falls-in-love-with-white-Doctor concept is a tad played out, and repeating it over and over as Moffat is doing is just going to make the show more and more boring. Moffat needs to branch out if we want Doctor Who to grow.