Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyse a certain section of pop culture.

Now it’s a common enough trend to throw insults at Steven Moffat for being a ‘sexist’ or a ‘racist’ or things along that regard. People taking quotes of his that were out of context in an interview he made ten years ago and using that as a basis to support their argument (and conveniently ignoring any quotes that show that Moffat is willing to listen to the opposition and is not the devil amongst us). But something I noticed in the last season of Doctor Who is, above all else, how socially progressive it was. So as much as Steven Moffat gets attacked, are those attacking just being blinded by their own prejudices? Is Steven Moffat and Doctor Who in general that ‘sexist/racist’? Well lets find out.

1.10 In the Forest of the Night, or Diversity in Action.

There’s not much I can add to this episode, truth be told. I’ve said it before better in other episodes. What’s interesting to note, however, it how diverse the group of kids are in this story. Some are black, some are white, but again, no attention is called to it in the script. Granted I’m working on memory here, so I probably got the ratio wrong, but a healthy mix. But since I have to write something, lets talk about the Nelson Column in the forest…

So perhaps the biggest problem with this episode that the day is saved by having a young girl accept her delusions (that turn out to be true) and that her being medicated was bad. So on the surface it looks like a message of ‘don’t medicate your kids’. Thing is, I don’t think that’s what the writer was going for. Instead the message he was trying to send was ‘don’t over-medicate your kids/put them on medication because they’re not acting how you want’. And indeed there is a good point to be raised with all of this. More often than not kids get labelled with ADD or ADHD and get medicated up to the eyeballs in the attempt to make them more ‘normal’. The kid isn’t fitting within social norms, so clearly there is something wrong with them. And since treatment is too hard, lets just put them on pills instead. Now whether this is true or not is something I can’t really comment on. I’ve heard stories of kids being put on medication they don’t need because they’re not like other kids, but how much is true is not known.

But is the episode sending a ‘medication is bad’ message? No, what it’s trying to send is ‘just medicating a child is bad’. Medication is one way of helping a problem, but it’s not the beginning nor end. Therapy and counselling is also needed to help someone be mentally well.

At the end of the day the episode may be bad, but its heart is in the right place. And that’s all that really matters.

Tally:

White Male characters: 1

Non-White Male characters: 2

White Female characters: 2

Total:

White Male characters: 18

White Female characters: 8

Non-White Male characters: 6

Non-White Female characters: 5

Alien Male characters: 2

Alien Female characters: 1

1.11 Dark Water/1.12 Death In Heaven, or Boy, Is This One Going To Be Long

Well lets just jump straight to the most important part of this episode: The Master is a woman now, and the fact that she is now a woman isn’t a detriment to the character in the slightest. In two simple episodes the idea of a male to female Time Lord regeneration was not only confirmed, it was shown to work exceptionally well. So lets break it down and explore why it’s such a good idea.

Though lets start from the outside first. Doctor Chang is another great example of colour-blind casting. His ethnicity isn’t important to the plot, but as the only Asian cast member of the series, it is a step at having a more diverse cast on screen.

Meanwhile in the second episode we have Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, Osgood and Colonel Ahmed. The latter, once again, is a good example of diverse casting. But lets look at the women of this story. Kate is the new Brigadier and fantastic at it. First introduced in The Power of Three (well, in the expanded universe technically, but lets focus on the TV show for now), brilliant in The Day of the Doctor, coming back here in full force. She is a great character and, much like Clara in Flatline and Missy in this, proving that gender is by no means an inhibitor to character. She is the Brigadier for the 21st Century and is fantastic at it, end of discussion. So lets move onto Osgood.

Introduced in Day of the Doctor, it is a shame that she is killed off. Especially when she looked like the next companion. However her death was a necessary tragedy to show that the Master was still just as dangerous. But ironically her last scene passes the Bechdel Test, as mentioned right at the start of this mini-series. The two female characters are talking about something other than the man… it’s just that the discussion is about how Missy is going to kill Osgood. But it passes, so hooray and all that.

So lets look at Missy herself. She’s fantastic, plain and simple. She’s probably the best Master we’ve had. And while people might have a problem with Moffat and his portrayal of women, his Master is a lot better than Davies’ Master. Both Derek Jacboi’s and John Simm’s Masters final words were insults towards women, showing his misogynistic tendencies. Now fair enough, I hear you say, the Master is suppose to be a bad guy. But considering that John Simm’s Master is played as a gay man, and Derek Jacobi is a gay man, and, well… the implication between homosexuality and misogyny is perhaps a bit closer than one would like to admit (though again, completely accidental). So it’s ironic that a misogynistic Master ends up becoming a woman himself. But since the role is played so well, and little is made on it, we don’t need to discuss more. Except, well…

It wouldn’t surprise me if some haters out there claimed the Master was only turned into a woman so that she could kiss the Doctor and it wouldn’t be ‘gay’. But lets look at the scene where she kisses the Doctor. She forces herself onto him because, for the first time in either character’s history, the Doctor doesn’t know that she’s the Master. He always knew who the Master was in the Classic Series, and the sole appearances in the New Series had the Doctor or the Master not knowing each other’s identity. So the first time the two characters meet with the Master knowing who the Doctor is and not vice versa, she does the one thing she has always wanted to do: Kiss the Doctor. It’s the only time she’d ever be able to get away with it, especially by being a woman. And when the Doctor kisses the Master? Again, it’s the only time he’s been able to. The rest of the time he’s either been angry at the Master, or sad for the Master. This is one of the few times he’s happy with the Master, and thus kissing her makes perfect sense. And lets think about it: If we put the Master back as a man and kept the kissing in, would the scene change that much? No, because gender to Time Lords doesn’t matter. It never has. But Missy is a great force for good. She, more than anything else, convincingly argues that a female Doctor could easily work. We may not see it in the thirteenth Doctor’s run, or even the fourteenth, but the possibility of the Doctor becoming a woman is now more open than ever.

One other thing to note: The only white men in this story are the Doctor and Seb. Like Deep Breath, the ratio to white men vs everyone else has the white men in the minority. And before anyone asks what’s the big deal, when was the last time white men didn’t make up a majority of the cast?

Tally (excluding Missy, who I counted in Deep Breath):

White Male characters: 2

Non-White Male characters: 2

White Female characters: 2

Total:

White Male characters: 20

White Female characters: 10

Non-White Male characters: 8

Non-White Female characters: 5

Alien Male characters: 2

Alien Female characters: 1

1.13 The Final Tally, aka Why I’m Not Doing The Christmas Special.

I’m not going to go into it too deeply, just point out that one, the only male crew member on the base dies (while the women all survive) and two, the Doctor’s line about finding the movie title ‘Alien’ offensive is a delicious jab. Instead, lets look at the final ratio at the end of the day (not I’m counting the elves as alien here, simply because they’re not meant to be ‘human’ nor important characters):

White Male characters: 22

White Female characters: 12

Non-White Male characters: 8

Non-White Female characters: 6

Alien Male characters: 4

Alien Female characters: 1

So White Male characters still make up a large part of the show. That’s bad, right? Well lets stack it up against everything else. Taking out the aliens, we have 22 white male characters and 26 non-white and/or non-male characters. In this case, white male characters aren’t the majority of the characters. If you don’t see why this is a big deal, go and watch any other TV show. More often than not white male characters make up 60%-70% of the show, not the 46% they make up here. But what about the male/female ratio. Well we have 32 male characters to 18 female characters. So only a third of the cast is female. Okay, not great, considering the world has an almost 50/50 split. But again, better than most shows on TV. Especially the Classic Series, that had very few female characters. Here we have a ratio that works out pretty well and shows a lot of good that the show has done. So what about the white/non-white ratio. Well we have 34 white characters to 14 non-white characters. So 30% is pretty appalling, right…except that white people make up 87.2% of the United Kingdom. So that’s 12.8% of the country that’s non-white. In this regard, Doctor Who is actually unrealistic. If it were keeping to the ratios found within its primary British audience, it should only have 5-6 non-white characters. Instead it goes beyond that. So here we have a show that not only has better representation on TV than there is in the real world, it is closer to the 50/50 ratio of genders than most shows and isn’t a show that is dominated by white male characters. So why bring all this up?

Well, for as much as the Moffat haters bash the series for being racist or sexist, the numbers don’t lie: Doctor Who is incredibly inclusive and actually is doing a better job than most people are giving it credit for. It’s casting more diversely than most shows on the air and trying to do the right thing. So if the accusations against Moffat were true, why is it the series seems to go out of the way to be the complete opposite. If Moffat was a sexist who hated women, how come so many female characters are on the show? If Moffat is a racist, why are so many side characters non-white, more so in real life? At the end of the day there are accusations that can be made by Moffat that can be justified. But when it comes to by the numbers representation of race and gender, he has most other producers beat. Instead of attacking a man for writing something you don’t like, why not instead promote the change you’re all so desperate to have?

So there you have it. My extensive look at Doctor Who in relation to the concept of diversity. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.