One of the things that I really love about this season of Doctor Who is that with the make up of the cast this season, we’re getting the chance to see stories that previously seasons really couldn’t tell with a male Doctor and an overwhelmingly white companion collection. (They never really took much advantage of Martha being a black woman and it was used mostly as a plot device to keep her out of scenes in Family of Blood… am I still bitter about how underused Martha was because she was excellent and deserved better? … perhaps)
But you couldn’t effectively tell a story like Rosa without characters of color who experience first hand the impacts of segregation in he American South. Sure you could have a white Doctor and white companions visit and go ‘segregation is bad, look separate water fountains’ but it’s much more impactful as a lived experience. In Demons of the Punjab, it’s the lived experience of Yaz’s family and it’s not a story that writers would think to use without Yaz as a character. It’s a chance to see an aspect of history not usually touched on in British storytelling, and if it is it’s with a colonial bent. But here you get the lived experience of Yaz’s Nan.
And with the Doctor being a woman, they’re aren’t shying away from pointing out the Doctor’s frustration each time something she’s gotten away with easily in her 12 male forms doesn’t come as easy now that she’s in a female form. In The Witchfinders, of course she’s going to use her psychic paper to show that she’s the witchfinder general, large and in charge. But sexism being what it is, and the psychic paper showing what the person reading it wants to see, of course as soon as it’s a man in power he can’t even fathom that she would be in charge so he reads that she’s an assistant. And tonight gave us yet another story that you couldn’t have told without a female Doctor – the Doctor being tried as a witch. Any other season would’ve had to have one of the companions be the one on trial, but because the Doctor is a woman now she can have that lived experience.
It’s just one more thing that I’m really enjoying about this season. I’ve loved Doctor Who for a long time, and I’ve loved many Doctors, but y’all I am so here for the opportunity for new stories and lived experiences. It opens up so many doors for exciting untold stories on this show and I’m so glad they’re taking advantage of it.