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No, ‘Doctor Who’ Isn’t Too ‘Politically Correct.’ It’s Just Not Very Good

Ever since Jodie Whittaker was cast as The Doctor, there’s been an endless cyclone of whinging about “political correctness” and complaints from people who use “social justice warrior” as an insult unironically. And every week after every new episode there’s a torrent of complaints about it on Twitter and a new article in the British tabloids bemoaning the fall of Doctor Who. But is it actually true? Is political correctness ruining Doctor Who?

Well, for starters, Jodie Whittaker has been great as The Doctor. She’s one of the younger actors to play The Doctor, tied for fourth youngest with Paul McGann and behind David Tennant, Peter Davison and Matt Smith, so she brings a younger energy than Peter Capaldi, who was tied for the oldest Doctor at 55 years old. She’s no David Tennant, but no one is David Tennant if we’re being honest. She’s a particularly optimistic and friendly Doctor, which is a departure from Capaldi’s gurmpy-but-loving-grandfather act.

One big problem is the companions. For starters, after five episodes, I’m not sure what all their names are. I’ve just been calling them “old guy, grandson and the cute one.” Having three companions all introduced at once was a bad idea. I realize that the Doctor Who began with three companions, but it aired a few months after Leave it to Beaver ended, and I’d like to think we’ve learned a thing or two about television since then.

We haven’t really been able to connect to any of the companions the way we did in previous seasons. It’s partially a function of there being three of them and of them all being somewhat bland, but also a function of the new series being much more plot driven than character driven. The real issue here is that the plots have been kind of weak.

In another throwback to the First Doctor, the show has pent a lot of time on Earth history shows. And those episodes, like Rosa, have felt a little bit more like The Magic Schoolbus than the Doctor Who that we’ve been watching since 2005. Compared to an episode like The Unicorn and the Wasp, another episode set in the recent past that features a famous woman, Rosa was basically a boring history lesson. The Tenth Doctor and Donna solved a mystery that involved a giant alien wasp killing Agatha Christie’s guests; the Thirteenth stopped a time-travelling Proud Boy from making a few people miss the bus. That was seriously how that episode was resolved, by the way, all the tension came down to getting a few more people on a bus. It was not compelling.

The space episodes were not much better. The follow-up to Rosa, The Tsuranga Conundrum, showed a few flashes of what the show could be. The scenes with The Doctor and Yaz, who should have been the only companion, were really well done and felt the most like an episode of Doctor Who. The sub-plot of Ryan and Graham being midwives for a pregnant alien, on the other hand, added nothing to the plot and only served to give them something to do because the show doesn’t need or know what to do with three companions.

Doctor Who has problems, but those problems aren’t that it’s “too P.C.” Doctor Who has always had a message of tolerance and acceptance, or as the Twelfth Doctor put it, “Never be cruel, never be cowardly. And never, ever eat pears!” The problem is weak scripts and weak characters. There have been no compelling villains in this series, and the relationship between The Doctor and her companions isn’t that compelling either. Doctor Who has a lot to fix between this season and next season, but political correctness isn’t the problem, it’s just good old fashioned storytelling issues.

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Well fuck this. No, Doctor Who isn’t too politically correct, you’re right on that, but it’s also fucking great! It’s wonderful and funny and engaging. Damn tho – Rosa was a “boring history lesson” – are you kidding me? Rosa was inspiring – it started conversations and made people feel something. The tension wasn’t getting a few people on a bus – it was setting up the right circumstances for a monumental moment in history to occur – I was on the edge of my seat until the end. Also, like, this whole thing about “three companions is too much”… Read more »

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