Skip to content

The Girl Who Waited: Why I Hate Amy Pond

For a long time, despite urging from the various nerds in my life, I didn’t bother to get into the new Doctor Who. (I still have never watched the original series.) But about a year ago, my partner and I moved to a new state so I could go to grad school. Bereft of our former social life, we spent a lot of time snuggling on the couch watching TV, and we got a Netflix subscription, as you do, and then it turned out that the whole run of new Who was available streaming, and things took their natural course. We burned through the first five seasons in time to start watching season 6 in real time this spring. Also, as we do when we really like a show, we gave it a nickname that is far longer than the actual title—in our house we usually refer to it as “What’s-His-Fuck, M.D.”

Before I’d even started watching, I already knew the prevailing opinion of current Who fans was that the show did not become truly amazing until Steven Moffat took over as lead writer and producer at the beginning of the fifth season, the same time that Matt Smith became the new Doctor. (Up until then, the show was run by Russell T. Davies.) I was repeatedly assured that no matter how much I enjoyed Davies’s show—which I really did—the advent of Moffat would blow everything else out of the water.

It has since occurred to me that all of the people who told me this were dudes.


Now, my understanding, never having seen classic Who, is that in the old days the Doctor occasionally had traveling companions who were not hot chicks. But, except for a couple of episodes wherein David Tennant was accompanied in the TARDIS by a delightful grizzled dude whom my partner and I nicknamed “Lawn Gnome Grandpa,” the Doctor of the 21st century has never not had a gorgeous girl at his beck and call. First there was Rose, who was the Doctor’s true love, and eventually got to live happily ever after with a Doctor clone in an alternate universe. Then there was Martha, who lusted after the Doctor unrequitedly, then left the show and reappeared in several cameos where she was way more bad-ass than she’d ever been as a recurring character. (She ended up married to Rose’s ex-boyfriend Mickey, and if you can come up with a better rationale for their union than “hey, they’re both black,” I am all ears.) Finally, there was the glorious and all-too-brief season of Donna.

Donna was my favorite. She was loud and opinionated and made fun of the Doctor a lot and was capable of becoming extremely—and convincingly—shouty when she did not support the Doctor’s intended course of action. Unlike Martha, she wasn’t devastatingly intelligent; unlike Rose, she didn’t win the Doctor’s heart. She never even tried to get in his pants.  She was just this normal, originally kind of shallow girl, who found out there was a lot more to life than she’d ever realized. I’m not arguing that Donna was a flawless character—she crossed the line from “brassy and awesome” into “stereotypical shrew” more often than I would have liked—but she was flawed in a way that felt real to me. And I’d still prefer Donna at her worst to what we got after her, any day of the week. Because what we got, after her, was Amy.

Anything positive that Moffat has brought to the show—some extremely creepy villains, the promise of an entire season with no Daleks, the worldwide bow-tie revival I’m certain will happen any day now—is pretty much overshadowed, for me, by the intensity of my dislike for Amy. It’s not that I have a problem with her as a person. She’s pretty! She’s funny! She makes that weird pouty face whenever she’s annoyed! What else can you ask of a female character?  I think Amy would be a total blast to get drunk with (two margaritas in I would be like “Girl, the pouty face, what is up with that?”).

Amy as a plot device, however, drives me insane with rage.  The writers cannot seem to come up with anything for her to do that doesn’t involve being a sexual or romantic object, a damsel in distress, or—more recently—a uterus in a box.  This is primarily a show about the Doctor, not his companions; I get that.  Still, Rose, Donna, and even the tragically underdeveloped Martha all got at least a few episodes dedicated them and their problems and their families, not just who they wanted to bone or what was growing in their lady parts as a result of said boning. (Granted, Amy’s family was eaten by a crack in the wall, which sort of limits their narrative potential, but still.)

She does occasionally save the universe, as all the Doctor’s companions are contractually obligated to do at least once per season.  Her biggest universe-saving moment, however, came about in the most passive way possible—she just had to remember the Doctor really hard. And she had to do it by focusing on the words “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” At her wedding reception.  Because if you want a lady to remember something, you need to make it relevant to her wedding. Am I right?

That, basically, is my problem with Amy.  She seems to have been conceived by sticking every terrible romantic comedy ever made into a blender and coming out with a slightly lumpy beige mixture of Stuff Girls Like.  Girls like weddings!  Girls like sex!  Girls sometimes try to have sex with boys who are not their boyfriends! Girls like making pouty faces!  Girls like having babies!  Girls enjoy engaging in banter!  Especially girls who are feisty, which is how a lot of people, including Matt Smith, have described Amy.  Can we all take a moment here to agree, unequivocally, that “feisty” is the single most condescending adjective in the English language, ranking even above “articulate” in its ability to convey disdain?  Thanks so much.  Moving on.

Amy’s dialogue is reasonably well-written, and Karen Gillan’s performance is funny and engaging.  But her storylines are terrible.  We spent all of season 5 (which, for me, was about three days) hopelessly enmeshed in the Love Triangle that Just Wouldn’t Die.  Amy was engaged to Rory, who had a smallish head, but she wanted to make out with the Doctor, who had a huge head!  How would she ever choose between two such different head sizes?  Then she had a moment of realization and went with Rory, presumably because their eventual offspring would do less damage on the way out.  But every two or three episodes since then, we’ve gotten these teasing “maybe she really DOES love the Doctor” moments, even though everyone, including all three characters, is sick to death of that plot thread.  It’s like the writers honest-to-God cannot come up with anything better for two dudes and a lady to do, with all of space and time at their fingertips, than worry over which dude the lady will end up with.

I hated that love triangle with a fiery passion.  But I did not know what it was to be truly annoyed until the mid-season finale, which happened just a few weeks ago.  (The rest of the season airs sometime this fall.)  That was when we found out why every episode for several months ended with the exact same shot of the TARDIS unable to decide whether or not Amy was pregnant.  She had been both pregnant and non-pregnant at the same time, because the person we’d seen walking around all season wasn’t really Amy—she was a flesh fascimile controlled by Amy’s real brain, which had no idea that it was trapped in a small white room in Amy’s real body.  A small white room that bore a remarkable resemblance to a refrigerator.  And in that refrigerator, waiting to be rescued, Amy was pregnant.

I’m certainly not saying this situation was her fault—who hasn’t gotten a little confused about which of their bodies was the real one?  But the fact is that the actual, physical Amy has not done a single thing so far this season except give birth and hope that her various men would come and save her.  And no matter how glad I was that Rory finally got to be a badass and do some rescuing, that underlines what I find so troubling about Amy:  the fact that the writers can’t seem to come up with anything for her to do that isn’t directly related to being a woman.

Obviously, lots of women really do have babies.  Lots of women really do get entangled in love triangles.  Lots of women would like to make out with Matt Smith.  And lots of women, if kidnapped by shadowy alien forces with unknown motives, would have a hard time coming up with a better plan than “sit around and wait for someone to come looking.”  None of these things are deal-breakers on their own, or even necessarily in combination.

But when it becomes clear that a female character is defined solely in male terms, as someone to be macked on, fought over, knocked up, or rescued, there’s a problem.  It’s not even that any of these cliches are insulting. It’s that they’re everywhere, and they’re boring.  So much of popular culture is devoted to telling the exact same love-marriage-childbirth story over and over, as though it applies to all women in the world, and peddling the lie that deep down inside that’s all any of us really care about.  And lots of us care about those things deeply, but not to the exclusion of everything else.

Female characters don’t have to avoid traditional women’s roles to be realistic and compelling.  They just have to do other things at the same time.  A mother with dreams and regrets and a rich emotional life is a character.  A woman who exists to bring a baby into the world (so that it can grow up and make out with Matt Smith) might as well be made of cardboard.

I worry sometimes that two-dimensional depictions of women in television and film may be warping our cultural understanding of real women’s lives and capabilities.  But, more often, I just think it’s astonishingly dull.  We’ve all heard this one a million times.  Tell us something new.

[Lindsay Miller is an MFA student, poet, and occasional nerd.  She writes the advice column "Ask A Queer Chick" for The Hairpin.]

120 Comments

  1. g33kgrrl wrote:

    I was going to say, when I started reading this, who told you new Who got better after Davies left! I’ve been repeatedly banging my head into the wall and rewatching old episodes and missing Donna. It was glorious, there for a while. Now it is not. I had all these high hopes that the episode that Neil Gaiman wrote would make everything all better and then it didn’t. Sigh.

    (It is not just “the role of ladies” that changes, though – from my analysis, the Doctor’s character has drastically changed since the takeover too. In ways I dislike vehemently.) (I also never watched old Who.)

    (First time commenter. I just can’t resist Who.)

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink
  2. Ben Babcock wrote:

    Well said, Lindsay. I too was extremely disappointed with the way Amy was relegated to “damsel in distress” status. In particular, I hated how in the mid-season finale, when everyone in the cargo bay is about to fight the headless monks, Amy HIDES BEHIND A CRATE, clutching her baby. I hated how that episode just completely sidelined Amy and forced her to be “mother of River Song”. Like, whatever.

    It’s a shame too, because I feel like Amy has so much more potential than that. I loved that moment in “The Doctor’s Wife” where Rory tells Amy that the Doctor will be fine left alone, “because he’s a Time Lord”. And Amy just looks at him and says, “That’s just what they’re called, Rory. It doesn’t mean he actually knows what he’s doing.” Why do I love it? Because it shows that Amy is finally starting to get over the Doctor as this abstract “man in a blue box/raggedy doctor” that so warped her life as a child.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink
  3. Sady wrote:

    I, too, love Donna. I think we can all agree she is the best?

    I also love this article. However. In the comments, perhaps we can discuss RORY. Because: RORY. I hate Rory with a flaming fiery passion. I know my capacity for love must be infinite, because it is the exact opposite of my capacity for hatred, which I did not realize was so great until I met RORY. He’s the worst boyfriend, isn’t he? Or husband? Ever?

    “Amy I just want to follow you around and sort of quietly and passive-aggressively shame you for wanting more from your life than RORY, and then complain about how much you’re not paying enough attention to RORY, and then talk about how the only reason you have a driver’s license is that you’re a skank but I sure do like to look at your vagina which I get to do because I’m RORY, and I apparently OWN YOU despite having NO OTHER CHARACTERISTICS outside of being in this relationship and being RORY and the SCRIPT KEEPS INSISTING YOU LOVE ME and killing me off to force some kind of emotion that you simply could not get out of a living RORY.” Ugh. Rory. I am so glad he is fictional. Because fuck that guy.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Permalink
  4. Lindsay Miller wrote:

    @Sady Totally! Rory is basically the Riley Finn of the Doctor Who universe. He sucks.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Permalink
  5. BMICHAEL wrote:

    Moffat’s said he’s always considered Dr Who to be a story about the companions because the doctor doesn’t change. So this -is- him trying his best to write Amy as a growing, compelling character.

    FWIW, I support your bow tie fashion takeover agenda.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink
  6. Matarij wrote:

    Oh this is a good blog piece – I tuned out of the ‘boys on a quest’ genre a few years ago – because I was, well, bored. Meanwhile Lindsay – have you a comment on Falling Skies – Spielberg’s latest ‘men to the rescue, women the admiring audience’ failure. I was so disappointed in this that I didn’t even make it through episode 1. When you compare it to Battlestar the contrast makes me want to sob loudly.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Permalink
  7. Catherine wrote:

    “Can we all take a moment here to agree, unequivocally, that “feisty” is the single most condescending adjective in the English language, ranking even above “articulate” in its ability to convey disdain?”

    Okay, but have you considered saucy?

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Permalink
  8. Ben Babcock wrote:

    I can’t help but sympathize with Rory, because I feel that most of the insecurity he exhibits regarding his relationship with Amy and her sexuality is a result of the Doctor’s shadow being over them for their entire relationship.

    Amy has been going on since childhood about the Raggedy Doctor and his blue box and how he was going to come and take her away and they’d go on adventures. And for the most part, I imagine it wasn’t a big deal, because the Raggedy Doctor was, you know, imaginary. But then the Doctor actually shows up, whisks them off on adventures, giving Amy opportunities Rory can never give her. So Rory is measuring himself against this impossible standard and feels like he falls short as a person and as a partner.

    I can see how you interpret Rory’s obsession with him and Amy settling down and having a life together as passive-aggressive shaming. You might be right. However, I see it as Rory’s only reaction to what the Doctor offers, which is unlimited possibility—except the possibility of a normal, quotidian life. The problem is that everyone seems to understand, except Rory, that Amy doesn’t want a quotidian life, and I don’t blame her. Rory is at his worst when he’s trying to persuade Amy they should just settle down. More TARDIS plz.

    I enjoyed that Rory got to play the Centurion a bit more in “A Good Man Goes to War”, because now that he has his own personal legend to draw on, maybe he will feel less insecure. It sucks, though, that they had to do this at the expense of Amy’s independence and by turning her, once again, into an object or prize to be rescued.

    Now, I can see how one might argue that whatever the reasons behind Rory’s insecurity, his insecurity and the way he acts as a result of it still make him a bad boyfriend/husband/Roman/person/whatever. I still for sorry for him though. And I do wish, like Amy, that he had been better used by the writers. The entire Amy/Rory/Doctor “love triangle” (I don’t like that term, but a better term escapes me—”love tease”?) didn’t work for me last season, and I will be happy when the writers finally let it go.

    Please feel free to continue hating on Rory, but I’d also be interested in thoughts on River Song. Or is that another blog post?

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Permalink
  9. Jake wrote:

    Ugh, I also hate Rory. I felt similarly about Mickey in the first few seasons, but at least no one went around pretending Rose loved Mickey more than the Doctor, and then teasing the audience with it, and Mickey had something of a personality (even if it was an obnoxious “I drink beer and watch football!” personality)

    Agreed 100% with the original post too, except for this:

    (She ended up married to Rose’s ex-boyfriend Mickey, and if you can come up with a better rationale for their union than “hey, they’re both black,” I am all ears.)

    I’m pretty sure she ends up engaged to that doctor she met in the year that she walked around the world. She and Mickey do walk off into the metaphorical sunset together at some point with Captain Jack, but I didn’t think that implied any romantic relationship. Am I missing something?

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Permalink
  10. g33kgrrl wrote:

    In addition to all that about ROry! As a nursing student, I do not think Rory is a very good nurse. Just saying.

    PS I am also all mad that I am pretty sure they retconned River Song and made her less awesome. I had this whole imaginary backstory for her that was really amorphous because I figured we’d learn more about her but I thought she was some sort of alien and from the far future and was, basically, the most bad-ass lady ever. NONE OF my imaginary backstory involved her being … whatever she apparently is. I thought she was this awesome independent character who just swung into the Doctor’s life and vice versa and maybe they were almost equals. I LOVED her. I still love my River Song. She is just a different River Song.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink
  11. OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD LINDSAY! CAN SAY HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS POST? CAN I?

    Let me elaborate a bit: I am the biggest Doctor Who nerd this side of the world. I adore Doctor Who. Been a fan for years. That was until the current incarnation of the Doctor. Because of all the reasons you so eloquently elaborated on but also because well… I do not like the current Doctor, or Rory. I believe they tried to modernize the show by making the characters quite much younger than they’d traditionally been and they sort of lost me in the process. Now I’ll be the first to admit I am “an old”, but that doesn’t mean I only want to see people of my generation. I just prefer to see people who do not seem to be characters that J.K. Rowlings discarded in the first draft of Harry Potter. I prefer to see people who are believable in their roles (and say what we might, but all Doctor companions were believable in their roles, as were the Doctors themselves). This just has a sort of cartoonish vibe that I do not like at all.

    Now, Lindsay, could I perhaps interest you in watching the Doctor spinoff, Torchwood? Because let me tell you this, it contains some of the hottest characters ever to populate sci-fi ;)

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Permalink
  12. Mym wrote:

    My favourite is Martha, precisely because she is very smart. She actually got real things done on her own, without needing the Doctor, which went a long way to making her a more important part of the show.

    Her Biggest Moment was also believing in the Doctor very, very hard, though. I hated those episodes.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink
  13. Sady wrote:

    @Ben: I’m pretty sure that Rory sat outside of that box for 2,000 years because he has literally no other interests and nothing else to do. The writers keep telling us it’s “insecurity” he feels, but it’s a well-founded insecurity, because the guy just has nothing going on in his life except Amy. Jacob Clifton at TWoP has written some really interesting stuff about Moffat’s dysfunctional take on relationships, which he argues you can see in the River Song plot as well; the women are all “sassily” insulting their mens all the time, and the men are all henpecked, but since heterosexual marriage is apparently a universal constant, they cannot escape each other and can’t live without each other. (And will drive a van into a brick wall, whilst approximately 27 months pregnant, should one of them die.)

    This is Lindsay’s post, so I don’t want to totally take over the comment section, but yeah. The Rory-and-Amy relationship bothers me. So, so much. Because Amy is defined exclusively in terms of sex, marriage, and baby-making, and that’s gross. But Rory as the point toward which Amy must inevitably move bothers me too. Because they haven’t bothered to give him any redeeming characteristics, or flesh out his character, beyond this really unappealing sketch we have now. He’s just this passive-aggressive, seriously codependent dude with nothing going on in his life but (a) his girlfriend and (b) his unending attempts to control her and cut her down to size so that she won’t question their relationship. But he’s a man, right, and ladies need their mens, right? So who is Amy to have standards? I hate that Amy has to be defined by who she marries and whose babies she’s popping out, but it seems like an equally misogynistic move to say that THIS GUY is the guy who should define her.

    BACK ON TOPIC! The topic of this awesome post, that is.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink
  14. Nina wrote:

    @Jake -

    David Tennant’s last episode, during the part where he’s going back and visiting all of his companions one last time, confirms that Mickey and Martha are married. No idea what happened to Tom (the other guy she was engaged to in Series 4), though.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Permalink
  15. BMICHAEL wrote:

    I kind of thought Mickey and Martha got together, not because they were both people of color, but because they’d both been improbably transformed by their situations into intergalactic/interdimensional badass alien fighters.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink
  16. SarcasticFringehead wrote:

    THIS POST IS EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED.
    But seriously, I do not understand how people can say with a straight face that it’s better with Moffat in charge, especially coming off of Donna’s season. I want to like Amy and Rory, but the way that Moffat basically wrote them as plot devices for each other is boring, at best, and I wanted to throw something when we got “faked out” for like the eighth time about Amy loving the Doctor – no wait, she loves Rory! Again! Still!

    @Sady – I love that you brought up what Jacob wrote about the Doctor and River’s relationship. I think that was what showed me that Moffat really isn’t good at writing relationships – their “banter” is in no way necessary to either the plot or their characters, but he puts it there anyway because how else would people act, amirite?

    @Flavia: Absolutely second the Torchwood recommendation, even though it tears out your heart and stomps on it on a regular basis. Also, it provides a good contrast between Davies’ and Moffat’s styles.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink
  17. Red Stapler wrote:

    Jesus, that’s everything I couldn’t put my finger on laid clear. THANK
    YOU, LINDSAY.

    It’s why I loved Matt, Karen, and Arthur, and even to some extent,
    Eleven, Amy, and Rory, but couldn’t figure out why the whole thing
    left me cold.

    Ugh. Barrrrrrf.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Permalink
  18. Lindsay Miller wrote:

    I am so comfortable with this comment thread becoming nothing but an orgy of Rory-hate, but I feel like we would be remiss if we didn’t also spend some time on the awesomeness of Donna. Discuss amongst yourselves: Why Donna Is The Greatest And Amy At Her Best Is Nothing But A Watered-Down Facsimile.

    Flavia, I adore Torchwood, although I seriously can’t think about Children of Earth for too long or I just become unbearably sad. I’m especially loving how Rhys is now staying home with the baby while Gwen is off gettin’ shit done. I kind of feel like Rhys is the Rory of Torchwood (I know, I already said Rory was the Riley of Doctor Who–why do all these dudes’ names begin with R?), except that he actually does love and support Gwen and doesn’t get all butt-hurt when she can’t give him a blow job because she has to go save the world.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Permalink
  19. Lindsay Miller wrote:

    Also: You know when that woman came into Amy’s room, while Amy was chillin’ and waiting for her man to save her, and Amy was like “I’m going to take your gun and shoot you with it,” and then just continued chillin’? My partner and I played a game of “what would the other companions have done in that scene.” Martha obviously would have just taken the fucking gun and blasted her way out. Rose probably would have pretended to be friends with the woman and tricked her into helping her escape, and Donna would at the very least have screamed at her until she fled in terror. All of which would have been preferable to what actually happened.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Permalink
  20. SarcasticFringehead wrote:

    OH MY GOD Children of Earth. Like, think about every bad thing that could happen, and add a million percent, and that’s what that was.

    Also, Donna is and forever shall be the best one. She’s shallow, sure, especially at the beginning, but even then she pulls him back from giving in to his hate and turning to the dark side. And then they’re friends with no sexual subtext at all, which is amazing, especially on TV. And then she actually does things to save the world! Actually, (mild spoiler?) the only thing that makes me sadder than Children of Earth is what happened to Donna at the end of her season.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink
  21. I am partial to Martha more so than Donna. The reason is probably because Martha was proof that it is possible to write a female character that falls in love while she doesn’t sacrifice her autonomy and her ability to kick ass. I mean, Martha traveled the Earth being a mighty bad ass to save the planet! And how many times does she wield guns and plots escapes, etc. And in the end, she decided that her love for the Doctor was detrimental to her self development and left. Those are the reasons I love her above the other companions (though Donna comes in a close second).

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink
  22. Erica wrote:

    Another point for Donna: she wasn’t college-age. If you want to source our obsession with ridding our faces of wrinkles, see the nauseating ad industry. But maybe those ads work a wee bit better because even us nerdy types who eat up science fiction and fantasy never see women over the apparent age of thirty (and usually not over the apparent age of twenty-five) having big badass adventures on TV.

    I do like who Amy could be, but that’s perhaps just my love of the actress – she’s great. Donna as a character, though, all the way.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Permalink
  23. Lindsay Miller wrote:

    Oh, @BMichael, re Mickey and Martha: Yeah, I was being a little facetious. I do think there are some similarities between their characters that might really make them compatible. But it bugs me how that was just thrown in at the end of Davies’s run with no explanation or development of the relationship. Like, I can figure out why it makes sense if I think about it for a minute, but if I have to do that, isn’t it kind of lazy storytelling? Shouldn’t they have tried a little harder to make it obvious that those characters didn’t get paired up just because they’re black?

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink
  24. Rachel wrote:

    Oh, I SO agree with you! Underscored several times, with lots of exclamation points. Tweeted, retweeted and shared on Facebook!

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Permalink
  25. Abigail wrote:

    Very well put. I actually think Amy, or rather her stories, have gotten significantly worse in the sixth season, because at least in the early parts of the fifth season it was possible – even reasonable, given the show’s track record – to believe that her story wasn’t going to be about a wedding so much as it would be about a 21-year-old girl realizing she’s about to commit to a lifetime with, basically, the only guy she’s ever known, and that for all that he’s a sweetheart that’s maybe not what she wants. Which is basically Rose 2.0, but still better than what the season ended up concluding. I’m by no means a fan of everything Davies does (for example, with the exception of Children of Earth, I find Torchwood nearly unwatchable, and though I love Donna her awesomeness is hobbled by Davies palpably running out of storytelling steam during her season, which sadly did not prevent him writing the execrable specials) but at least he writes women who genuinely want adventure and are willing to be changed, and to have their lives changed, by it. Moffat sends his women on adventures so they can realize they were better off at home.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink
  26. L wrote:

    When a programme is LESS sexist in the 1970s, you’re doing something wrong (seriously, watch the first Tom Baker ep). I am a huge Who fan, but I had to stop watching at the Matt Smith episodes. Everyone is dripping with smarm.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Permalink
  27. Anne Lyle wrote:

    I think everyone expected a lot from Moffatt because he wrote some of the best episodes in the RTD era, including “Blink” (which is still one of my favourites). And RTD can be totally OTT, as witnessed by the (IMHO) awful end to his run. I love John Simm, but all that running around with the shouting and drumming – BORING.

    So Moffatt was built up to be the antidote to RTD’s melodramatic excesses – and sadly he’s not really up to the job, at least not on the companion front. I’ve never watched Catherine Tate’s comedy shows but she was awesome as Donna – that season was one of the best, and the ending is heart-breaking.

    I like Matt Smith, he’s fun and quirky – but the whole Amy thing is not really working for me. Thank you for pinning down why!

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Permalink
  28. Thane wrote:

    Wow. Donna? Really?

    Possibly the worst companion ever. It’s not that she was completely out of her league (who wouldn’t be, when the league is an inter-galactic time traveler and all of space/time?) it’s that she was completely oblivious to it. And then the ending, when she suddenly became the most important person in the universe? Trite and terrible.

    With the possible exception of K9, probably the worst companion ever, IMNAAHO.

    A few other points about your post. Amy never thought that she was really with the Doctor – she knew she was in the space-station the entire time. It was the Flesh that THOUGHT it was actually Amy. (It had all of Amy’s thoughts and memories up until the point it was created, remember?) Likewise, the Flesh baby wasn’t actually being controled by the real baby.

    As to Rory and Amy – throughout all of Season 5 (and most of season 6) I think you have things very backwards. It was Rory who was always playing the ‘Damsel in Distress’ role. Meanwhile, Amy was strong, intelligent, and direct. Heck, Rory had to be made into a plastic roman centurion to actually do something helpful, and even then, his character was completely tied to Amy. While Amy was a fully developed, strong, character, Rory existed as not much more than an asterisk.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Permalink
  29. I love Donna forever because of how she told him “Dude, that’s totally genocide” in the special she first appeared on.
    I love Martha for giving him the boot and saying “I’ll get over it and go on with an awesome life” when she realized he wasn’t interested.
    Amy… I don’t hate, nor do I hate Matt Smith’s Doctor. But I hate the writers with a passion, and I hate Rory. I still haven’t watched anything from the most recent season because of how much I hated the last one.
    First I had to get over the Weeping Angels not being scary anymore, then I had to get over Amy sexually assaulting the Doctor and everybody finding it hilarious. Then there was Vampires of Venice, and Rory complained that the Doctor, like, allowed Amy to decide her life, and then the Doctor yelled at Amy and sent her back to the TARDIS’ kitchen, and they practically highfived each other at the awesomeness of that?
    I stopped watching for months and only watched all the other episodes the night before the finale. The only one that didn’t suck was the one with Van Gogh, and then in the season finale they ruined it by making River Song say that Van Gogh had the power to see the future. Thank you, it’s not like “people with mental problems actually have supernatural powers” hasn’t made my schizophrenic family members resist treatment enough yet.
    Now, I find that all the suck in the recent Doctor Who is explained by this quote from Moffat:
    “There’s this issue you’re not allowed to discuss: that women are needy. Men can go for longer, more happily, without women. That’s the truth. We don’t, as little boys, play at being married – we try to avoid it for as long as possible. Meanwhile women are out there hunting for husbands.”
    (because Rory?) (from http://living.scotsman.com/features/Time-Lad-scores-with-sex.2535185.jp )

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Permalink
  30. Steven S. wrote:

    1) Sometimes, I think Mr. Moffatt should be restricted to writing *episodes*, rather than running the show. Individual *episodes* he wrote under Davies’ supervision remain among my favorite TV ever — but I admit I’m having trouble remembering most of this season, despite having watched it far more recently than, say, “The Doctor Dances”, or “Girl in the Fireplace”.

    And people have hit the nail on the head, I think, with “What does Amy get to do?” (and, by extension, what does “Amy’s Boyfriend” get to do?) — they get to go girl-things and boyfriend-things, rather than companion-things or people-things, which stunts them as characters and stunts the stories they’re in.

    I was also saddened by the “revelation” about River Song because it seems to be preparing to move her into the same kind of box, and narrowing her down even further, which is no fun.

    (I find myself wondering if Moffatt spends so much time building his puzzle- and jewel-box plot/storylines that he thinks everything needs to fit into a box.)

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Permalink
  31. Also, was there ever (in the last 6 seasons) a companion’s Mom who wasn’t unsympathetic? Sometimes I feel that Doctor Who has the same problem with mothers that Joss Whedon shows have with fathers.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Permalink
  32. potsherds wrote:

    I was a regular commenter over at some forum that I eventually got really sick of, at the time it was announced that Moffatt was taking over from Davies. At this forum, there were linked some articles with some choice statements made by Moffatt that made him seem like a very misogynistic douche, and yes, having a really uh, pessimistic?, passive aggressive?, plain miserable? take on hetero romantic relationships and marriage. I was scolded for possibly taking this guy’s words out of context. Nah, don’t think I did.

    Doctor Who under Moffat has really sucked. Both Amy and Rory are terrible and insulting characters.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Permalink
  33. Brenda wrote:

    OMG this post forever! I find Karen Gillian so charming and engaging that I really want to care about Amy but the way Moffat’s written her is just so ugh. I hate Rory the most though. I GROANED so hard when he was like “Mrs Williams! I will save you now!” Because, you guys, she did not change her name! Her name is Amy Pond! The Doctor would facetiously refer to them as the Ponds, because she is always so feistily emasculating him (which is totally what real relationships are like amirite?!) but now Rory’s manly because he’s wearing some armor? So gross.

    The big difference for me between RTD and Moffat is – even though RTD could get to be a bit much – you never felt like anyone was a prop in his stories. Even Mickey (Rory 1.0?) actually has some nice moments of self-awareness and growth. (The other thing about RTD is – the characters all have these really specific senses of place, and the world they live in bears some resemblance to contemporary England (but obviously with more aliens). Rose is from a south London estate, Donna’s from Chiswick, Martha’s a middle-class Londoner. Amy’s from a tiny village with ducks?)

    (Pre-Children of the Earth Torchwood is such a mess! It veers between really great and nigh-unwatchable – but Children of the Earth was great and I’ve liked the bits of Miracle Day I’ve seen so far.)

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Permalink
  34. Ben Babcock wrote:

    Re: Thane, #28:

    Amy never thought that she was really with the Doctor – she knew she was in the space-station the entire time. It was the Flesh that THOUGHT it was actually Amy. (It had all of Amy’s thoughts and memories up until the point it was created, remember?) Likewise, the Flesh baby wasn’t actually being controled by the real baby.

    Lindsay is correct. The end of “The Almost People” establishes unambiguously that the Flesh Amy was merely a proxy and not a duplicate (as the Flesh was originally meant to be in “The Rebel Flesh”, before the accident that caused the Flesh versions to become distinct people). I can see where the confusion would arise, but if you watch it carefully they are very careful to make the distinction clear. Before the Doctor severs the connection between Amy and her proxy, he addresses her and tells her that he and Rory are coming to get her. This is also why Amy keeps seeing flashes of Madame Kovarian (eye-patch lady) throughout the season.

    As to Rory and Amy – throughout all of Season 5 (and most of season 6) I think you have things very backwards. It was Rory who was always playing the ‘Damsel in Distress’ role. Meanwhile, Amy was strong, intelligent, and direct. Heck, Rory had to be made into a plastic roman centurion to actually do something helpful, and even then, his character was completely tied to Amy. While Amy was a fully developed, strong, character, Rory existed as not much more than an asterisk.

    It’s tempting to look at it this way, I admit. Nevertheless, there are plenty of moments in season 5 where Amy is a damsel in distress. Before Rory even shows up, in “The Time of Angels”/”Flesh and Stone”, she spends the better part of these episodes with her eyes shut, lest Bad Things Happen. She has to sit around and wait for the Doctor to rescue her, or to guide her, to safety.

    In “The Vampires of Venice” Amy goes undercover and is taken prisoner. Eventually she gets freed by one of the yet-to-be-vampires. In “The Hungry Earth”/”Cold Blood” Amy once again gets taken prisoner.

    Amy spends the entirety of “The Lodger” trapped on a TARDIS that can’t materialize and is reduced to having some conversations with the Doctor, reading off numbers, and looking up plans. There are some nice moments in this episode, but Amy’s helplessness in it frustrates me.

    “The Pandorica Opens”/”The Big Bang”, “Amy’s Choice”, and “The Eleventh Hour” are all problematic on larger levels than mere damsel-in-distress syndrome; Lindsay does a very good job explaining why.

    It’s certainly true that Amy has some very strong moments throughout season 5 and the beginning of season 6, and that’s why I think it’s so regrettable she gets relegated to being a damsel as much as she does.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Permalink
  35. ls wrote:

    re: fiesty

    I think you’re forgetting about “spunky”

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Permalink
  36. Knightgee wrote:

    I’ve quite enjoyed Amy as a foil to the Doctor, but she really has been given less to do as a character than previous companions. I think this is a result of the story actually shifting *to* her though. This season and the previous one have been by and large about her in some form. She is invested in the story as a central figure, whereas previous companions would be involved but only as adventurers fighting against an enemy. I think this lack of focus or concentration may have given them more freedom actually. Your behavior gets tied down when it needs to fit into a plot structure.

    I’m rather indifferent to Rory as a character, though I do wish they would stop trying to imply that Amy actually loves the Doctor only for *surprise* she was talking about Rory the whole time. Please stop. I don’t need to see Rory have another sulkfest over what seems to actually be a fairly stable relationship. Heck, the love triangle isn’t even a triangle. That implies serious feelings for the third person involved. But not only is the Doctor not romantically interested in Amy, it’s been shown again and again that Amy is perfectly happy with Rory. She’s not perfectly happy with living a life of domesticity, but she clearly cares about Rory. So at this point, his insecurity is based on something so deeply ingrained in himself that actual reality can’t seem to shake it and it’s just. so. damn. ridiculous.

    I mean, I’ve enjoyed the Moffat run on the whole more than the Davies run, character flaws with the companions aside. Because at least Moffat can maintain the quality of a good and compelling story from start to finish without pulling everything and the kitchen sink out of his ass at the very end(looking at you, End of Time and Children of Earth). To be quite honest, I really didn’t like much of Davies run when he was actually given the pen for an episode. He worked better as a lead writer than as an individual writer, which seems to be the opposite of Moffat’s problem.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Permalink
  37. Frances wrote:

    re: Mickey and Martha, I’d be way more comfortable with them getting together if not for the fact that all the interracial couples on the show seem to end up at least broken up and at most dead. (Having said that, I love both Martha and Mickey, and I have headcanon for them bonding over having lived in alternate timelines/realities and crawling out of the Doctor’s shadow. But that doesn’t actually happen on the show.)

    Moffat’s run is better than RTD’s in some ways, but I think those ways are mostly because of Matt Smith’s Doctor, who is a lot more fun and weird than the Tenth Doctor’s Perpetual Angst Machine. The same Tenth Doctor who took down the female PM of Britain, using incredibly sexist means, because she didn’t agree with him.

    River Song’s relationship with the Doctor – from her own words – basically sounds like she imprinted on him at a young age and has wanted to both be him, and be with him, ever since. Which is… exactly what happened to Amy. And to a lesser extent the French woman in The Girl in the Fireplace, another of Moffat’s stories, I believe.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Permalink
  38. Oriniwen wrote:

    I DID NOT READ ALL THE COMMENTS BECAUSE I WAS TOO BUSY SCROLLING DOWN HERE SO I COULD WRITE:

    YES!!!YES!!!A THOWSUN TIEMS YESSS!!!

    I *was* told by a dood that Season Donna was The Worst and Seasons Moffat we TEH BESTEST and wrong! wrong! wrong!

    Yes to everything above about Amy being boring, and Jacob from TVWoP being *right* (come baaaaaaack, Jacob) and Moffat being an unfocused writer and Rory being (HAAAAAAATE) a raging 2000 year Nice Guy TM.

    So much word to this post and so much sadfase about the Moffat only Who because really? Matt and Karen are amazing beyond amazing and could really light the show up with decent writing!

    (I just watch seasons 1-4 of the New Who on and endless loop and weep for humanity).

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Permalink
  39. Oriniwen wrote:

    ALSO! (comment spam!!)

    The last (aired) episode! “Permission to Hug?)

    !!

    WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK WAS THAT FUCKING SHIT???

    With a shit-sundae topper of “Ima threaten you offa mah woman with a sword a durr hurr hurr”

    *RAGE*

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Permalink
  40. Sady wrote:

    @Knightgee: I dunno. In our house, we live the Davies/Moffat divide. Specifically, the Tennant v. Smith debate is ongoing. And I’m pretty strongly on the pro-Davies side of the issue.

    Moffat’s episodes are more tightly plotted — Davies could just be ridiculously loose and messy with plots, to the point that if you missed three lines of dialogue in a seemingly random conversation, the entire episode would make no sense whatsoever; Moffat has a clearer logic and a steadier, more sensical (or just more conventional) way of hitting the beats, so his episodes move — and less melodramatic. We will never get an end-of-season-three “Tinkerbell Jesus” moment from Moffat, I don’t think. The production values are also just miles better. (Assuming you didn’t come to love the super-cheesy rubber-aliens BBC aesthetic, which I eventually did.)

    But, but, BUT. Davies had this elusive quality that I have to describe as, ugh, “heart.” He cares about his characters, and he cares about people, and it shows. I got into the show, specifically Tennant’s run, when I was feeling really down. Because I’d heard it was sort of like Buffy, so, why not? And even though I initially hated the cheesiness of it, and the rubber aliens, and the freaking Space Rhinos and Space Cats and Farting Aliens and whatnot, it just became really absorbing, and really uplifting. Mostly because of the character of the Doctor. I guess, specifically, the Tenth Doctor. He believed in people, he believed in life, he was endlessly excited about possibilities, he was really dedicated to saving people. Whenever anything bad happened, he was so sorry, so very very sorry. David Tennant brought so much compassion and warmth to the role that you could actually believe that, if you were in a bad spot, this was exactly the guy you would want to show up and save you. And Davies’ run gave all of the characters — even the loud, shallow temp Donna; especially the loud, shallow temp Donna; even MICKEY, for Chrissakes — real hearts and real stories.

    Now? I don’t just think it’s New Doctor Shock, because I got from Eccleston to Tennant pretty easily. I think all of the characters are just written more two-dimensionally, and in a way that makes them all seem colder and more selfish and less appealing. And, yeah, the gender dynamics are sort of fucked and dysfunctional. Davies has been called misanthropic, but I think what he’s essentially distrustful of are groups, especially groups with power. You can see that in “Midnight” (which, COME ON, was a great Davies episode) as well as “Children of Earth.” But he’s very interested in individual people, and the connections they form. And maybe it’s just that this lines up with my own particular feelings about groups and power; Davies tells us over and over again that as soon as people form an “us,” they form a “them” and become abusive and scary about it, and I tend to agree. But Moffat seems like the real misanthrope. To the extent that he can’t develop characters as people, or give them motivations that aren’t cliche. LADIES LIKE WEDDINGS. WIVES EMASCULATE HUSBANDS. THE END.

    Anyway, that’s my new derail for the day!

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Permalink
  41. Emyrldlady wrote:

    This! This very very hard!!

    I have said repeatedly that Amy is not a companion, she’s a plot device.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Permalink
  42. Diana wrote:

    You can see that in “Midnight” (which, COME ON, was a great Davies episode)

    You mean the one where the lesbian is possessed and the unnamed woman of colour dies to save the Doctor?

    Sure, it was scary. But RTD’s stuff is just less obviously -ist than Moffat’s.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Permalink
  43. NoraReed wrote:

    Also, was there ever (in the last 6 seasons) a companion’s Mom who wasn’t unsympathetic?

    The only one I can think of is Jackie and she is… possibly my favorite character in the Whoverse. I think she is the only person that redeems how boring Mickey is; if he was her son instead of her daughter’s boyfriend and they lived together and there was a show about monsters attacking their house and them defending themselves I would totally watch it. I think Jackie was the only character on the show Mickey actually had any chemistry with.

    REGARDING RORY: I like Rory, but I can’t really say why except that I find him slightly charming. It might just be because I think Roman armor is sexy? But you should probably disregard my opinion entirely because I also liked Riley Finn. (I am not being facetious with that statement, I really think I just have weird taste in boyfriends for heroines of television I like.)

    I wish Rory would occasionally get a chance to use his nurse-y powers the way Martha got to use her doctor-y powers. (That happened, right? I didn’t hallucinate it? It might have been on Torchwood.)

    REGARDING RIVER SONG: How cool is River Song? I almost think there isn’t room for Amy or Rory to do anything because she’s busy being a badass and the Doctor is busy being the Doctor.

    REGARDING CANTON: I know no one was really talking about this but I am wondering how other people felt about the one-off “THIS CHARACTER IS A GAY” thing at the end of that episode. Like? Dislike? Neutral? I liked it but I am pretty sure that you could film Mark Sheppard playing a lawn chair with a cell phone camera with a bad camera angle and I would think he was doing an EXCELLENT JOB.

    REGARDING THE DOCTOR: I sent the line about big heads and small heads to my mom (didn’t want to send her the whole article because she is not caught up) and she said “the doctor’s head is big in several ways”, which I think is an accurate statement! However I like the current Doctor. I can see why people would like #10 and #9 better, but I like him. I think there’s a lot of potential for interesting character development with him to make him less like The Frizzle and more like a… regular character, I guess. That happened with Tennant with the whole in-love-with-Rose arc, but it seems like it’s going in a different direction with Smith with the whole violence thing, and I think that might be interesting. (River Song might be a bad influence.)

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Permalink
  44. Sady wrote:

    @Diana: Well, I’m not going to get all FAN RAGE on you, but I think you can reduce any story to its potentially —ist elements and call it a day.

    Just generally, I think it’s worth noting that Davies’ relationship with race always seemed screwed up to me in a Nice White Liberal Man sort of way; he made a point of showing people of color, in both “heroic” and “villainous” roles, and of showing interracial relationships, but it always seemed sort of anxious and sweaty and condescending to me. And it did bother me. But not as much as the fact that the entire non-white population Great Britain apparently disappeared in the time it took for Tennant to become Smith. I mean, where did the people of color GO? Will the Doctor be called upon to investigate their disappearance at some point? This is like the whitest Doctor Who I’ve ever seen.

    On the queer front — it’s not my life, so it’s not mine to say, really, but it’s worth noting that Davies is a gay man, and that he sort of made a point of including gay, lesbian, and bisexual (hi, Captain Jack) characters all over the place. Even just in random roles, like the little old married ladies in the “crabs will eat you while you’re driving your car, IN SPACE” episode. He intimated that the Doctor could potentially have romantic feelings for dudes as well as ladies; I think he said at one point that he was purposefully playing the relationship between the Doctor and the Master that way? And alternate-universe Mickey (“Rickey”) was in a relationship with that blond resistance-fighter boy. Queer ladies seem not to get as much screen time as queer dudes, which undeniably sucks, but I don’t think you could say that Davies, on the whole, stereotyped or vilified queer people in his run.

    Anyway, since I wasn’t necessarily saying that Davies was politically perfect and problem-free, just that I enjoyed his run better (politically and just as television) than Moffat’s, all of this might be besides the point.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Permalink
  45. Lindsay Miller wrote:

    Sady, yeah, Eleven is way more violent than Ten, and it bugs me. “I’m the Doctor. Basically, run” was an awesome line, but also, Tennant’s Doctor would never ever ever have said that. Ten wanted to give the bad guys every possible chance to change their minds and go away. Eleven wants to fuck their shit up, like, yesterday. Which is an interesting character choice, but it does lead to me feeling a lot less sympathy for the character.

    I am not crazy about River, to be honest. I feel like she is a “Strong Woman” in the same way Buffy is a Strong Woman. (I love Buffy! So much! But.) It’s like, she’s super awesome because she can make jokes and shoot dudes in the head, but she’s not really an empowering feminist role model. (Not that every lady-character has to be an empowering feminist role model. I just think that’s how River is being marketed, and I don’t buy it.) I think she’s the embodiment of the Exception Girl. The Not Like Other Girls Girl. The Just One Of the Guys Girl. I find her hollow. Characters like that are fun to watch, but they don’t subvert gender-based hierarchies–they exploit them. You can’t have the Super Awesome Badass Girl unless you start with the assumption that most girls are terrible, you know?

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Permalink
  46. Ben Babcock wrote:

    Lindsay, I’m not sure I follow the distinction you’re drawing between Ten and Eleven’s manipulations of their legendary status. (I think I’ve worked it out by the second paragraph of this comment; let’s see if I’m on the right track.) Ten was just as aware of his legend as Eleven and has used it to his advantage (“I’m the Doctor, and you’re in the biggest library in the Universe. Look me up.”, from “The Forest of the Dead”). Like Ten, Eleven seems to me to be just as obsessed with giving peace a chance (refer to “The Hungry Earth”/”Cold Blood” with his desperation to see the Silurians and humans reach an agreement, something I felt was revisited in this season’s “Rebel Flesh”/”Almost People” two-parter). But part of what Moffat is doing with his tenure as showrunner is establishing that the Doctor’s status as legend has reached a point where it’s almost a liability, because now people are banding together to defend themselves against the Doctor—hence the Pandorica last season, and now Madame Kovarian’s madcap scheme.

    I think it was a lot easier to be sympathetic for Tennant because he pulled off the “last of the Time Lords, so lonely” thing quite well. When he finally has to Get Scary and unleash some doom on the bad guys, he really is scary, but there’s always a somewhat tragic quality to it. I agree that Matt Smith doesn’t quite do it the same way—and maybe this is what you’re getting at, that when he switches from “flight” to “fight” mode, Eleven sort of pursues his enemies’ defeat with a sense of glee that we didn’t see from Ten?

    I 100% supercalifragilisticexpialidocious agree with you about River. I’m just going to come right out and say it: she feels to me like a Mary Sue. As much as I appreciate Moffat’s penchant for truly embracing the non-linearity of time-travel fiction, I can’t stand how smugly he portrays River as having foreknowledge of what’s going to happen. And I feel like we’re being told and we, as the audience, are expected to like River and think she’s all badass, and I don’t like being manipulated like that (all fiction is manipulation, at some level, but I want it to be more subtle).

    Also 100% agreement on the Buffy-love. That show is so awesome it makes me hurt sometimes. But I shall not digress.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Permalink
  47. unicornsforsale wrote:

    first of all, i’m definitely one of those people who made all of my friends watch doctor who and kept saying to them, “but wait until you get to the moffat-era in season five–it gets so much better,” and i’m also definitely female.

    i understand your arguments, i do, because i’ve seen them dozens of times before in discussions about amy pond, and they feel just as false to me now as they did then.

    yes, you off-handedly mentioned the fact that her family had been erased when you complained about the lack of episodes about amy’s life or her family, but you just… don’t take that anywhere else when it is SO important to understanding her character. everyone in her life disappears, and she knows something is wrong–there’s something missing–but she doesn’t know what it is. amy in series five has severe commitment and intimacy issues, and that’s the source of her problems with rory and her flirting with the doctor. it’s not a real love triangle (and i don’t see how anyone can honestly ever think that it was) because she only loves the idea of the doctor and because she clearly does love rory but is too scared to admit it, to say it out loud because EVERY IMPORTANT PERSON IN HER LIFE DISAPPEARS. there’s an episode all about amy in series five and it’s called “amy choice,” but the real choice isn’t between which life is the real life and which is the dream–or between rory or the doctor. the real choice is will she choose to love rory after a lifetime of running away from it out of fear of losing someone else, even if she doesn’t know that’s her real fear. the amy pond in series five doesn’t OMG LOVE WEDDINGS: she is terrified of it, absolutely terrified, so she runs away.

    amy pond is stubborn and she believes in herself when other people doubt her–she believed in the stars when they were gone and she bit her psychiatrists for telling her the doctor wasn’t real. she uses humor as a coping mechanism, and she has a lot of things she needs to cope with. she stands up to the doctor when he’s wrong–she saved the star whale and defended her choice to do so to the doctor after he was rude to her; she went after him in “vincent and the doctor,” when he told her not to because she knows he needs help sometimes. she is actively brave and self-sacrificing several other times as well: she shot the astronaut to try to save his life and was “eaten” by the earth while trying to save one of the workers lives in “the hungry earth,” and she defended her boys with a pirate sword in “curse of the black spot.” she told the doctor to go on without her and save himself in the “time of angels” two-parter, when she thought she couldn’t move because the angels were messing in her head. she’s the only person who thought of winking as a way to hold off the weeping angels and she also thought to make ponchos out of blankets to keep them all warm in “amy’s choice,” and i’ve already mentioned her seeing the kindness the star whale and in the doctor when even couldn’t, but my point is this: she sees things differently than other people in a clever, childlike way, and a kind one. she volunteered to infiltrate the sexy fish vampire school in “the vampires of venice,” because she’s brave, and fought both rory and the doctor to get to do that. she wears short skirts and flirts with people and is in touch with her sexuality, and i like that. she saved the doctor and rory by remembering them when her whole life has been her slowly forgetting things and people that are important to her, and that is beautiful and important and huge. i’m sorry you’re all missing out this amazing character, and she is that: amazing. mad, impossible amy pond.

    i don’t like her lack of agency re: her body in series six either, but i trust the writers to deal with some of that in the latter half of the season. moffat has disappointed me far, far less than rtd ever did.

    also? lol at all of you mocking amy’s saving the world by remembering when martha saved it by telling the story of her unrequited love for the doctor. don’t get me wrong: i love martha jones fiercely, but i wanted better for her than that. and don’t you dare say that she would have snatched gun out of someone’s hand just because you want her to be more awesome than amy. that’s laughable. she went all military after she left the doctor and it went badly because the point of martha and the military (and martha and guns) is that she’s always better without them–that, like ten, she would never. it’s the same with donna: why was she the most important person in world? because she saved the doctor’s life by being there and because she absorbed parts of him that made her “better.” it wasn’t intrinsically something only she could do–it all came back to him, him, him. i love donna noble, too, because she’s awesome and because i love all the companions, but jesus christ: she was also shrill and boy crazy and wedding-obsessed and always in search of a husband, and yet how is her life not the plot of a sad romantic comedy full of Stuff Girls Like? it’s cool if you don’t like amy pond, but don’t diminish her story and her character by trying to make the other companions’ stories more than they were and less sexist or problematic than they were. it’s disingenuous.

    drive-by point about rory POND: please don’t forget that when rory made the decision to guard amy in the pandorica, he had ALSO JUST KILLED HER. it’s not that he didn’t have anything better to do, guys. she was in there because of what he did. so, yes, it makes sense that he would have stayed to protect her so she could recover from SOMETHING THAT HE DID TO HER.

    i’m not even going to touch the discussion on eleven or river song–or the ridiculous and untrue comments their being no characters of color or non-straight characters since rtd left–because i think i might actually explode.

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 12:09 am | Permalink
  48. Emily Manuel wrote:

    Great post, bang otm.

    Anyone seen the Moffat-written sitcom Coupling? Funny, but complete heterogender essentialist tosh. As soon as I heard he was becoming the show runner for Doctor Who, this seemed a fairly likely outcome. It seems to me that he wants to lend these really tired ideas of What Women Are and Want and heterosexuality and marriage some mythic gravitas, and the reason why it falls flat is there *is* no gravitas to the bleakly inequitable psychic world he inhabits, no matter how you try to pretty it up.

    Oh, and the really tight plots at this point are just annoying me; they feel like all prefiguring, no immediate payoff. Even the “fun” episodes just feel a bit grim and forced.

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 12:34 am | Permalink
  49. Soup wrote:

    I’m interested that you see Eleven as being more violent than Ten. Ten has always struck me as the most violent of the three reboot iterations (although I gather the Doctor himself would likely identify Nine as the most violent, given his comments to Rose). It seems to me that Eleven largely allows his companions to mete out violence on his behalf while Ten relied on his companions (most notably Donna) to keep him from becoming wholly devoid of mercy.

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 12:36 am | Permalink
  50. ShortWoman wrote:

    I’ve been a Dr. Who fan since the 80s. Yeah, sorry, Adrick was the Worst Companion Ever.

    It’s true that the Doctor usually has nice looking, female companions. Sometimes two at once! Most of them (excepting Leela) spent a lot of time screaming things like “Look out Doctor!” and getting rescued. However, having couples aboard the TARDIS did not start with Rose and Mickey.

    I do have a number of small disappointments with the current series, and I do wish that the Doctor still had a working relationship with UNIT. And seriously, enough with killing Rory over and over. At least the Lone Centurion is his own man (at some point I expect him to remind the Doctor that he actually has more life experience, having hung around Earth for 2000 years: “No Doctor, I think you need to trust me on this one”; also hope that they run into Captain Jack, who should immediately say “Ave, Centurion!”).

    That being said, I still like Matt Smith’s version of the Doctor — which is quite a feat after Eccleston and Tennant! I even like Amy and Rory as characters. The thing about Amy that bothers me is that *she’s a paradox magnet riding in a time machine*. Heck, it’s amazing that the TARDIS only blew up once!

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 12:59 am | Permalink
  51. Ann Patterson wrote:

    I can’t add much more than “AGREE WITH EVERYTHING.” If you Tweeted this link at Moffat’s Twitter account, you’d probably get an indignant response.

    Loved the 10th Doctor and as mentioned above, the partnership with Donna and personal relationships v. groups. This iteration, eh not so much. Too bad there’s been more episodes of this instead of the superior modern version of Sherlock Holmes (although that show also tends to be a bit of a Boy’s Club).

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 1:23 am | Permalink
  52. Barkingdoc wrote:

    I am not saying that Doctor Who doesn’t have a fair share of nerd-boy-fantasy-fulfillment; I have long been aware that as a dude, my love of the series comes in good part from imagining that I, too, could someday use my incredible wit and even more extraordinary arrogance to collect a series of hot young things to follow me around. (combined with recognizing the all-too-real sadness of knowing those easy relationships won’t ever last very long.)

    But I can’t agree that Amy’s role in the story is only a gender construct, or a retread of girl-unfriendly cliches. Every one of the modern Doctor’s companions (most notably our wonderful Donna) has been a story about the conflict between wanting a wide huge universe of adventure represented by the Doc, versus the banal offerings of everyday life. It seems to me Amy does just as much running and arguing and investigating and explosion-dodging as any other companion, and I don’t believe that her having romantic feelings (even toward, oh gasp and scandal, two people) negates everything else about her. I personally love it that, for once in a blue moon, we have a female character on TV who can be a dashing, bold, curious woman AND have an ongoing stable relationship, instead of her relationship meaning she no longer exists.

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 1:55 am | Permalink
  53. ApathyIncarnate wrote:

    Great article (Donna was by far and away my favourite companion too.. and Tennant was my favourite doctor, FWIW). There’s another really good blog entry about Moffat and women here, btw, in case you haven’t seen it.. I think you’ll enjoy it:
    http://mindingandmattering.blogspot.com/2011/05/doctor-who-and-its-discontents-part-i.html
    Cheers!

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 8:04 am | Permalink
  54. Ben Babcock wrote:

    Re: unicornsforsale, #47:

    but my point is this: she sees things differently than other people in a clever, childlike way, and a kind one. she volunteered to infiltrate the sexy fish vampire school in “the vampires of venice,” because she’s brave, and fought both rory and the doctor to get to do that. she wears short skirts and flirts with people and is in touch with her sexuality, and i like that. she saved the doctor and rory by remembering them when her whole life has been her slowly forgetting things and people that are important to her, and that is beautiful and important and huge. i’m sorry you’re all missing out this amazing character, and she is that: amazing. mad, impossible amy pond.

    Thanks for putting into words what I could not about how much I enjoy the good aspects of Amy’s portrayal.

    And yes, Amy saving the universe by remembering it is definitely not as far-fetched as any of the other season finales (Rose: power of the time vortex; Martha: telling a story; Donna: absorbing the knowledge of Time Lords). On the other hand, Lindsay makes a good point in her original post about the way the writers execute this moment. I don’t think it’s unambiguously sexist of them to make everything culminate during Amy’s wedding—stories have a long tradition of ending with weddings, and there’s nothing a priori wrong with that. But it’s part of a larger pattern that Lindsay points out in her blog post. You make a good point about Amy’s universe-saving abilities coming from something intrinsic to her rather than a Time Lord-given ability:

    it’s the same with donna: why was she the most important person in world? because she saved the doctor’s life by being there and because she absorbed parts of him that made her “better.” it wasn’t intrinsically something only she could do–it all came back to him, him, him.

    The problem is that Amy’s moment in “The Big Bang” is still all about the Doctor. Her ability to remember the Doctor back into existence is all her, yes, but does she really have agency in this case either? She is manipulated into bringing the Doctor back: River Song mysteriously swoops in and leaves behind her journal so that it will jog Amy’s memory. (Now that we Know Who River Song Is, that episode has a lot more subtext we should revisit sometime else….) It’s great that Amy decides to remember the Doctor and all; I love the Doctor—but ultimately, River uses Amy to get to the Doctor. So while the mechanism might be different, Amy is still just as much a device for saving the Doctor as Donna is.

    Moving to a slightly different topic on the subject of Amy Pond, this might sound weird, but I really like the prejudice Amy displayed in “The Rebel Flesh”/”The Almost People”, and not just for the dramatic irony in hindsight. I just enjoyed that the writers didn’t make her as open-minded as the Doctor to the idea that the gangers were also people, and that she instead had to be persuaded to that viewpoint. (Because if everyone starts out open-minded and awesome and agreeing, then where’s the room for character growth?)

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 10:04 am | Permalink
  55. Kat wrote:

    Oh yes! Thank you so much for this post!
    I am currently rewatching all of the new series of dr who with a friend of mine who never watched it, and first of all, my gosh I love Russel T Davies. So, so much. His writing is just how I love my tv shows; engaging, emotionally deep, quirky and surprisingly complex.
    There’s just so much things that makes the first four seasons almost Buffy good, and then there is season 5 and when I first was about to watch it, I was reluctantly enthusiastic, because while i loved Eccleston, and was skeptic about Tennant at first, he turned out to be just as amazing. So I was ok with the idea that it could just be me who was being afraid of change. And while i hated Blink and dont even get me started on how much I loath Girl in the Fireplace, he also wrote Doctor Dances and the Empty Child, and that introduced Jack Harkness, and Captain Jack is brilliant. So man species, so little time! So i thought, maybe it works. Maybe Blink and Girl in the Fireplace were just badly written flukes of bland characters he thought up while suffering from the worst hangover of the century or something. Hangovers sure kills my creativity, he could just have similar symptoms.
    And then it introduces Amy. Except they dont introduce AMY, they introduce Amys naked leg. And then they introduce Amys very short skit, followed by Amys boobs. And then, they introduce Amy. And she’s a kissogram. And I had just rewatched the ending with Donna. Amazing, wonderful, badass, flawed, yet complex and oh so human and strong Donna. This character I loved, and admired and who was the best companion to date. And then she was followed by kissogram Amy with a skirt that could have been mistaken for a belt who gets introduced with the most tired sexist body shot of the history of TV. And that sort of set the standard for the new season. While up until then I had felt that the characters had things that I as a woman could relate to, it had a little for everyone, and I never felt excluded as a female viewer(apart from Girl in the Fireplace, thank you Moffat) but after season 5 I felt I was watching a boys show.
    Complex and interesting characters were changed out in favour some sort of weird fan service, because oh, everyone loved how scary and thrilling Blink was(except it was dull and lazily written, but never mind)so let’s make more of that, and everyone(im guessing the dude audience, but I can be wrong) hated how emotionally mushy Davies was, so lets make less of that! AND NO MORE GAYS!!!eleventy.
    So what used to be(for me at least) this emotionally engaging, complex, interesting show with character I genuinely cared for turned into Glee with a time machine. With less LGBT. It used to be story arch driven, and it used to have emotionally driven story arcs parallel to the storylines, and the character developed and most of the time it was consistent and well written. They had their themes, and they kept to them, and worked on them, and developed it.
    And then came Moffat, who wrote a frikkin episode where the storyline IS Amys short skirt. They might as well rename it Two and a Half TARDIS and be done with it. At least then there wont be any misconceptions about what the show is turning into. Especially after the Gaiman episode that had me so disapointed i considered just stop watching all together.
    Funny thing is, I genuinly like Moffat when he writes Sherlock. I thought Sherlock was brilliant. But, there’s no female main character, or even female character that has more than a couple of lines, and from where Im sitting my conclusion is that Moffat just cant write female characters.
    ..or he might just be simply wrong for Dr Who as a show runner, because as people have pointed out in this thread, Rory is a huge problem as well. I hadn’t thought about Rory in that way before, because I had been busy swearing over Moffats sexist writing and the character of Amy, but now when it has been pointed out, I totally see how Rory suffers from the same awful character syndrome as Amy.
    ..oh gosh, I am rambling. I think Im gonna stop now before I get started on the pregnancy plotline.
    But before I stop, is it just me who have noticed how ALL of Moffats female characters story lines ends with either pregnancies or happy hetronormative families?

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 10:52 am | Permalink
  56. coffeeteacoffee wrote:

    Hang on, what’s with all the Rory-hating?

    I’m really with you on the annoyance of having Amy being such a plot-device-with-a-womb (and mini-skirt) but at least her marriage (and pregnancy) didn’t bump her out of the storyline, ushering in the next hot chick.

    Rory..is kind of fascinating, because he’s such a chick-magnet. maybe not within the story, but he’s such wish-fufillment for the rest of us. He’s loyal, imperfect but keeps trying, his ego doesn’t insist on getting in the way, (nurse, not doctor) and he’s just slightly funny-looking. That, friends, is cat-nip…so far. If he gets turned into a buff killing-machine by the end of the series, well, not so much.

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink
  57. cinnamongirl wrote:

    Thank you so much for this post!

    I wasn’t sure at first if it was just fear of change and love for Ten which made me hatehatehate what Moffat has done with the show.

    What made me sure was the ‘I thought we were going to Rio’ episode. When the characters step out of the Tardis, Amy is wearing another belt/skirt, because Rio. But it turns out they’re somewhere in England, and its freezing. So she shivers away, and yet when she goes back to the Tardis to put her ring somewhere safe she doesn’t grab any warm clothes while she’s in there. Why??? Where is the internal logic? I swear there’s several comments during the episode about her skimpy clothes and her response is always ‘I thought we were going to Rio!’ I mean yes, I see women wearing hardly anything in winter when they’re out clubbing, but not down a mine in the middle of nowhere. Could she not have grabbed a jacket? Or some pants even? I could not understand it, until later when she ends up tied down to a table in a torture porn scene, and the lightbulb went off in my head – ah, that’s why she’s wearing the skimpy clothes! The whole Rio thing was a shitty arsed excuse to have her in a sexy outfit when she was tied up awaiting vivisection. Aaargh!! Grrr. So much of Amy seems to have been played like this – sexy young thang with utterly beige boyfriend. I’m fed up with the poor characterisations and inconsistencies of characterisation.

    And sure, Amy lost her whole family – then she got them back again, in time for the wedding! Strangely though, they seem to have disappeared again – or gone back to never existing? Every other character had a family, and it was a tragedy that meant Amy didn’t – but now that she has them back, they don’t exist in the new season! Why not? Where is the internal logic??? They can make an elaborate point of explaining why Amy’s wearing skimpy clothes in a freezing cold place but can’t explain why her family seems to still not exist even though they now do? GAH!

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink
  58. cinnamongirl wrote:

    Gah that should have been ‘every other *companion* had a family’. My head’s too explody with rage to have made that clear.

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink
  59. Astraea wrote:

    But before I stop, is it just me who have noticed how ALL of Moffats female characters story lines ends with either pregnancies or happy hetronormative families?

    Except Jenny and Vastra, Liz 10, the villain from the Venise episode, Miranda Cleaves…

    I’m just relieved that so many of them are still alive at the end of their episode, after RTD’s steam of self-sacrificing women.

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink
  60. Herong wrote:

    A) Thank you!!! This perfectly articulates all my myriad problems with Amy. So frustrating.

    B) Martha fan here. Total unabashed Martha fan. And Torchwood watch, for more hot Martha cameo action.

    I go for brilliantly cerebral every time. Family of Blood is by far my favorite story arc. Heart-breaking!!

    Martha Martha, she’s our person!
    If she can’t do it, maybe go ask another person!

    (never said I was a poet)

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink
  61. Sassy Scientist wrote:

    yes! great article. I love Matt Smith’s doctor but you’re so right about Amy. Moffatt has written some great episodes, but he seems to have run out of new ideas in general.

    However, I recently got into an argument with a guy friend where I was actually defending Amy. This friend of mine (who is a really good guy and calls himself a feminist and does lots of feminist activist stuff)can’t stand Amy because he thinks she doesn’t appreciate Rory enough. Like because Rory is nice and because he waited for her for 2000 years or something, Amy should love him unconditionally. He hates her because she tried to get with the doctor right before her wedding, and hates her for the love triangle. As much as I think Amy’s character has not been well developed in the ways that you described- this other stance is bullshit too. First of all, the implication that women have a responsibility to love a man who protects them is irritating. Secondly, who *wouldn’t* be tempted by the doctor? I mean COM’MON! He’s The Doctor. I love my boyfriend, but if a powerful, handsome man that I’d been dreaming of for years fell out of the sky and told me he could show me the universe I would totally be outta here.

    Meanwhile, can I complain about the apparent hordes of men who hate Donna? I got into a big argument with some guys on io9 about this. I was shocked that anyone would dislike Donna since she is clearly awesome, so when I asked why they said she is annoying and loud and always talks back and is TOO OLD for the doctor. Too old??? WTF! The Doctor is over 900 years old! How can anyone be too old for him? When I pointed this out one guy got upset that I was calling him “ageist” and I said something like “oh honey, I wasn’t calling you ageist- I was calling you *sexist*.” You can imagine how well that went over.

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink
  62. firefly wrote:

    I am a female Doctor Who fan, and I like Season 5 simply because….it’s Moffat. The storyline became smoother and tied in well with the finale, and he does drama and tension so well. But I miss Donna the most! She was awesome, she had amazing character development-and then she forgot everything. WTF?

    I still like Amelia though, because she is pretty cool. She saves the whole of the UK with a single push of a button, gets trapped with a Weeping Angel and gets out alive-and she works as a kissogram without people passing her off as a “slut”. I do wish that Amy and Rory get more development in the latter half of Season 6 though, since the writers for this series aren’t as coherent.

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Permalink
  63. Will Wildman wrote:

    This is a really insightful post and a sprawlingly vast comment thread, so it will take substantial discipline to not individually respond to everything here. Because people have made many many good points which I may or may not agree with!

    NERD PROLOGUE: I’m vexed by the assertion that Amy hasn’t really done anything this season because she was ‘really’ in a superincubator and only remote-controlling a Flesh body. Given that she was completely unaware of it the whole time, and was fully independently in control of it the whole time, how does that not count as her actions? This seems like saying that Stephen Hawking is not a public speaker.

    RORY: I don’t hate him, but I do agree that the character is starved for non-Amy things to care about, which is why I was so happy to see him taking independent action in the Rebel Flesh episodes. His 2000-year guardianship could be seen as incredibly clingy, or it could be seen as a Whovian melodramatic version of “And Rory stayed by your bed the whole two weeks you were in a coma”.

    MOFFAT: I read that comment of his about women chasing husbands some months ago, and realised that there was no rational way to ever reconcile it with Clingy Rory and Feisty Amy, and vowed to avoid ever listening to anything the man says ever again. The vast majority of my enjoyment of current Who depends wholly on my explicitly rejecting any implied assent to his definitions of reality.

    AMY: I think that basically everything this post says about Amy is, at bare minimum, something the writers need to realise and think about really hard. Because the actress is great and the character has room to be great (when she’s not being a human sonic screwdriver, i.e. save-the-day machine, e.g. “Victory of the Daleks”) but the only way to do that is to first stomp out the notion (obviously held by Moffat) that she is some kind of prototypical All-Woman, the one true template from which all gender-based interactions are derived. If Donna had been presented to us in the same way (I love Donna) then I think she would have been just as offensive, for reasons people have noted. Donna was brilliant because she was her own character (and the antidote to three seasons of companion-lusts-for-Doctor) but if we had been ‘told’ by the shape of the show that she was supposed to be the True Face of Women, how freaking awful would her husband-chasing have been? (We got a hint in the Moffat-written Library episode where she was temporarily hooked up with her ‘perfect man’, a cute guy who never spoke and had no apparent opinions about anything).

    In summary, I blame Moffat’s storytelling more than Amy’s character.

    Also: I continue to be confused when people talk about the Doctor banishing Amy to the TARDIS (kitchen) in Vampires of Venice and then say it’s like Rory and the Doc high-fived afterwards. It wasn’t that long ago that the Doctor’s most hated foe pointed out that he turns his companions into weapons and gets them killed, exactly what Rory just said to him. I thought the Doctor in that scene was supposed to be scared and unsure, not smug. What subtext am I missing?

    CAMERON DELAWARE III: I liked that he turned out to be gay, because Moffat is way worse than RTD at including QUILTBAG people, but that was also back when I thought he was going to be a recurring character in the season. Now it just feels off for the same reason as Dumbledore – retroactive inclusivity.

    P.S. I will totally help out with the worldwide bowtie revolution.

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink
  64. Will Wildman wrote:

    Astraea (59): “Except Jenny and Vastra, Liz 10, [...] Miranda Cleaves…”

    I like to think that some day, when the Doctor is too busy elsewhere to save the world, there’s a time-leaping storyline that unites all of the above to foil a vast evil plot. And at some point, when they are trapped on 21st century Earth and believe that the enemy has outmanuevered them and won, they shall unexpectedly run into the acerbic CEO of the multinational Noble Corporation…

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink
  65. Jake wrote:

    Rory..is kind of fascinating, because he’s such a chick-magnet. maybe not within the story, but he’s such wish-fufillment for the rest of us.

    What’s this “rest of us” you’re talking about? Because, a) women are not a monolith and, b) speaking as a woman, Rory is not wish-fulfillment for me. I want a partner who can hold his own in a conversation, isn’t pretend-afraid of me because I’m “feisty”, and will have the strength to get the hell over me when it’s clear I’m just not that into him. Seriously.

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink
  66. alula_auburn wrote:

    Interestingly, I only “know” (online) one person heavily pushing the Moffatt-is-superior line and yup, another man. Hmmmm.

    I’ve been uncomfortable with Amy from the beginning, really (well, AMELIA Pond seemed pretty cool as a kid) and it almost made me feel guilty. Like, I don’t think it’s fair for me to expect all female characters to be all things; the problem is just that there aren’t enough characters for tropes to become simply specific character traits. But Amy just seemed–not as much anything as the other Companions. She doesn’t push against the Doctor from the beginning, like Rose (granted, Matt Smith’s Doctor, most of the time, is a lot more easy-going than either Eccleston’s or Tennant’s), she’s not as brilliant as Martha, she doesn’t, IMO, connect with people as deeply as Donna. Just so much of what she does seems to be reactive, not proactive. KG is a good actress, afaik, and very pretty and funny, but I don’t think they’ve given her much to work with.

    Also, mind-wiping/amnesia tropes are a huge squick for me, and after Journey’s End, it was really hard for me to deal with a variant of that being so much of Amy’s storyline. (I found the end of S4 to be much more devestating than S2, which I suppose is somewhat just because I don’t really like the Doctor in an ongoing romantic relationship (if nothing else, it seems like a squicky power imbalance), but maybe to me, losing your identity and memories is just more terrifyingly traumatic than losing your love interest. Which could just be my baggage, as someone who lives in her head more than in other people’s. . .arms.)

    I’m not sure if this relates, but I heard tons of people complaining about Smith-Doctor being “mean” in The Beast Below,” when he says the line about “no one who is human has anything to say to me about this.” And I was kind of like, guys, I know David Tennant is adorable, but are we in denial about how often his Doctor was an arrogant berk? Really? But even then, the *way* Amy stops him to me doesn’t have nearly the oomph of Rose standing in front of the Dalek, or Donna yelling at him to stop way back in The Runaway Bride. It just comes off as much more desperately conciliatory, and I think that sets the tone for a lot of interaction that follows.

    Also, ftr, there’s a Moffatt interview that demonstrates some pretty annoying views on Women.

    http://theangryblack.tumblr.com/post/5017601265/steven-moffat-explains-why-hes-so-bad-at-writing-women

    And I quote:
    “The world is vastly counted in favour of men at every level – except if you live in a civilised country and you’re sort of educated and middle-class, because then you’re almost certainly junior in your relationship and in a state of permanent, crippled apology. Your preferences are routinely mocked. There’s a huge, unfortunate lack of respect for anything male.”

    My heart, it bleeds.

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Permalink
  67. alula_auburn wrote:

    It’s also, IMO, interesting to look at the Moffatt episodes during the first 4 series, because while a lot of them are GOOD episodes, in my opinion, a lot of them definitely have problematic elements with female characters. I especially did a double-take about how River is “saved,” in Forest of the Dead because NOTHING in the episode up to that point (or since) has suggested to me she wanted to mother a couple of computer-code kids and a handful of co-workers for eternity.

    And. . .well. Miss Evangelista. Whatever. Pretty and dumb, or smart and ugly, but remember girls, it’s one per! And if you are “ugly” no one will love you, in any way. (And no, I don’t think Moffatt meant that as a major or argument, and obviously the Companions and plenty of other female characters are ID’d in the show as pretty and smart. So. . .why was that there? And no, the plot doesn’t “need” it. The computer could have made her smarter without deforming her; Doctor Who is magic-science, not hard science. The only reason I can think is that he thought the “brilliant and unloved” was some kind of amazing insight, AND that she looked cool and creepy in her veil. But plot service doesn’t negate an irritating idea.)

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink
  68. Sarah wrote:

    I gotta say: not only do I really like both Amy and Rory, I actively seek to emulate them. There are bits of my personality that are Amy-ish and bits (probably more bits) that are Rory-ish.

    I also see all kinds of parallels between Amy/Rory’s relationship and well, my own relationship. Everyone thought Amy was mad: one person decided he loved her as she was. Which is kinda what happened to me. (Not that there weren’t issues, but every relationship has them.)

    But then again, I do tend to get very attached to fictional characters, probably a great deal more than I should. All I’ve really got to say, I suspect, is that hate for a character often translates, for me at least, into ‘but I’m just like that- what does that make me?’. This is probably just a me thing, though. In conclusion: I agree with almost everything on this blog except the Doctor Who stuff, and Steven Moffat was a sexist prat even before he took over Who, yet still manages to write good female characters 99% of the time. Jerk.

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Permalink
  69. Jeremy wrote:

    This is an amazing article for articulating what I (and many others) couldn’t, and I totally agree with most of it, but I have to disagree with all the Rory-hate. I think it’s very nice and a refreshing change to see a totally devoted male character whose life revolves around his beloved. I guess part of that is, gender aside, I definitely relate to the character. I mean he can be kind of controlling sometimes fer sure, but character flaws people! They are a thing! Mostly I sympathize with his insecurities (who among us, of any gender, would think we could compare with THE DOCTOR?) and his clear and genuine love for Amy. How is that a bad thing? Amy may still be treated as glorified female genitalia on legs by the writers (except when she’s being “feisty,” ugh), but Rory is definitely a sympathetic character. That’s part of why the love triangle that they are pushing SO HARD needs to die. Like right now.

    P.S. I am so so glad that this comments section seems to have brought out the few other Martha fans in existence. I thought I was the only one!

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Permalink
  70. Sitakali wrote:

    I hate Amy Pond, but not just because of her character’s story arc. Her character itself is horrible. She is spoiled and completely selfish. She thinks it is completely acceptable to treat the man she supposedly loves like her second choice. And the other characters go along with it. Rory drives me crazy too, because he puts up with her crap. And the Doctor loves her, which drives me crazy.

    Friday, August 5, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Permalink
  71. Oh god, thank you for this thread.

    I think one of the reasons people are getting so attached to the Moffat seasons of the show is that Matt S. and Karen G. are great actors. They are transcending the shitty writing in the moment…it’s just that as soon as the shouting and running about stops and you start thinking about the story that you go “Oh, huh, that’s not good.”

    I think the other reason is that they’ve obviously made some changes in the production design and cinemaography team – the whole show just *looks* better (see Vincent and the Doctor, for example). The colors pop like candy.

    Can we also talk about how the whole “I thought I liked this guy and he thought he like me, but noooooo, it’s really my daughter that he’s supposed to be with” is ripped off from Twilight? Like, really? Why did my show have to go all Twilight on me. I am sad.

    Saturday, August 6, 2011 at 12:49 am | Permalink
  72. orlando wrote:

    I got here way too late. But isn’t Stephen Moffat the guy who wrote the wonderful “Coupling”, which had three male and three female leads, and was all about showing relationships from both points of view? So not someone who struggles with writing complete characters for women. I is puzzled.

    Saturday, August 6, 2011 at 6:02 am | Permalink
  73. BriodeNebuliser wrote:

    No, one of the reasons people are getting so attached to the Moffat era is the HUGE improvement in the quality of the writing. And I say that because it was, and always has been, a sci-fi fantasy show first, known for expanding childrens imaginations (you do realise it’s aimed at kids first and foremost right?).

    Every comment supporting this article has focused exclusively on the characters, and whilst I love that Russell brought this dimension to the show, something the classic era had been lacking, as a piece of inventive and creative science fiction, something the show had previously always succeeded at, it was appalling. It was as if aliens had invaded coronoation street on a week by week basis.

    I really do respect RTD as a writer, he is superb at characters, hence the splendid Midnight, and characters I do have a lot of time for like Donna… but that’s not what Dr Whos biggest strength was, and why so many old school fans (myself included) were horribly disappointed with his era.

    It’s now back to being a creative and imaginative force, an adventure without over reliance on pop culture references, or the distressing notion that people couldn’t identify with something set outside of this planet and this time period.

    Saturday, August 6, 2011 at 7:14 am | Permalink
  74. Sarah wrote:

    Okay, I gotta jump on this one too. Sorry if it’s not my place, I know I don’t actually know any of you-

    “Amy I just want to follow you around and sort of quietly and passive-aggressively shame you for wanting more from your life than RORY, and then complain about how much you’re not paying enough attention to RORY, and then talk about how the only reason you have a driver’s license is that you’re a skank but I sure do like to look at your vagina which I get to do because I’m RORY, and I apparently OWN YOU despite having NO OTHER CHARACTERISTICS outside of being in this relationship and being RORY and the SCRIPT KEEPS INSISTING YOU LOVE ME and killing me off to force some kind of emotion that you simply could not get out of a living RORY.” Ugh. Rory. I am so glad he is fictional. Because fuck that guy.

    I’m not getting the passive-agressive shame, could you give an example? Maybe in Amy’s Choice, but even then by the end he makes clear that he’s happy to go wherever she is.

    Anyway, his other quality beside being Amy’s husband is being a nurse, and it seems to be how he identifies himself, he says ‘I’m a nurse’ in something like five out of seven episodes of Series Six. And then he demonstrates kindness to Alaya, despite her openly wanting to kill them all. And to Jen, and to Idris, and to the chewed-on-by-vampire flower girl and to generally anyone who needed help. Rory’s flawed, but if I ever needed a qualified nurse and he, you know, wasn’t fictional…

    Um, the Comic Relief sketch is problematic, but I assume the writers intended it to be friendly banter between husband and wife rather than anything else. At least it’s not technically canon? I don’t think there was any vagina-seeing, though. At least not on purpose, Rory only looked up through the glass floor because the Doctor called him. And I would’ve thought Amy would be wearing knickers…

    My thoughtz, let me show you them.

    Saturday, August 6, 2011 at 8:59 am | Permalink
  75. Yvonne Pallister wrote:

    I think some other people have brought this up already, but: Amy’s consciousness is in the Flesh for all of S6. Why does it matter, again, that it’s not “really” her body?

    She spends the entire time of s6 believing she is Amy. And doing things. Why do the things she’s done count less because they’re not in her “actual, physical” body?
    Saying that the state her physical body happens to be in overrides her thoughts and experiences — isn’t that kind of not the good type of feminism? Talking about “real bodies” and how they override lived experiences?

    Anyway, I’d try to make a “womyn born womyn” pun to get my point across but Amy’s name already has a Y in it so I give up.

    Sunday, August 7, 2011 at 12:50 am | Permalink
  76. Kirsten wrote:

    Oh my god you guys what this what this… no.

    Amy’s a fun character, and I love her to bits. Having said that, her storylines sometimes suck. Sometimes, they don’t. Having said that, I love Amy. As a character, she’s awesome. I half expected her to be Donna when she grows up or something.

    And what. What is this Rory hate. He’s uninteresting and boring, yeah. But he’s sweet and he wants to be cool and he wants to be great, and you know what? He is. Walking into the TARDIS for the first time and being the only person ever to not be floored by the bigger inside? Awesome. Fighting through two thousand years so he could make damn sure that his best friend and his fiance would be safe? Awesome. He’s a dork, but he’s a great dork. Because you know what? Not all of us -are- interesting people. Some of us really do think that growing a ponytail is enough to make life exciting.

    Also, the way she saved the Doctor wasn’t passive. It was the entire point of Moffat’s run so far. Storytelling is LITERALLY magical. Gah. Can’t refute right now, but my main point is that Moffat is awesome as hell, and yes, Amy’s gotten some crappy writing. But frankly, I have total faith that Moffat’s going to go somewhere with it that will make the whole thing worth it. Doesn’t mean the character’s bad. Also Rory is awesome because sometimes the uninteresting, boring people are the greatest people of all.

    Sunday, August 7, 2011 at 5:25 am | Permalink
  77. Kirsten wrote:

    Also what, Amy didn’t go back to the TARDIS to put her ring back, Rory did, and Amy and the Doctor went on without him.

    Sunday, August 7, 2011 at 5:37 am | Permalink
  78. draconismoi wrote:

    Let’s have an entire post about the thousands of ways Donna is FUCKING AWESOME and how horrific her sendoff was.

    Because let’s be honest – a Donna-post is going to be way more interesting than an Amy-post. Who, as everyone has said, is nothing but a a bunch of girly cliches wrapped up in a Scottish accent.

    I really wanted to like Amy. She had potential. But Moffat is too busy building his Epic River Love Story to bother with characterizing anyone else on the show.

    Sunday, August 7, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink
  79. Jerrica wrote:

    THIS!!!!!! This right here is exactly what I have been trying to say!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sunday, August 7, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Permalink
  80. Andrea wrote:

    women in refrigerator syndrome, anyone?

    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 12:35 am | Permalink
  81. slutego wrote:

    Delurking just to emphatically shout YES at all of this.

    Who never sucked so hard as it has since the Moff took hold. I find myself perpetually astonished that any fans at all enjoy what he’s done to my poor, precious series.

    Honestly. The man can pen a decent one-liner. That’s -it-.

    And oof, River Song. The less said about that saga the better.

    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 3:46 am | Permalink
  82. Crys T wrote:

    I like the Moffat Who a lot, but not as much as the Davies Who, and part of that is because I find the characters a bit less rounded. Well, considerably less rounded. As other people have pointed out, Tennant’s Doctor had his good points, but he also had a very dark side. Donna wasn’t the most intellectually gifted person ever, but she was smart at reading people. They had some layers. The current characters may be enjoyable, but…..in the post Buffy/Veronica Mars world, there’s something they lack.

    A couple of you have mentioned Torchwood. I need to get this off my chest: I am DEVASTATED by the atrocity Davies has visited upon Torchwood with the current series. He’s allowed it to be turned into a Hollywooodised, soulless piece of crap. Plastic, baby-voiced, size-zero women and all. He’s sold out both his culture and his artistic legacy.

    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink
  83. Aliaras wrote:

    Augh, Moffat!Who. Whoever told you it was better was lying. Moffat in RTD’s Who was great, but so far we have the Doctor being a giant fucking asshole (although maybe there will be Character Development away from that?) and a whole bunch of “meh” stories. Also, a decided lack of queer people — one of the things I loved about RTD’s Who was the fact that people like me were everywhere, just going on and having normal lives, falling in love and lust and debt and everything else that people do. I’m tired of The Queer as a token not-person (because they’re too busy being A Queer).

    And yes, Tennant’s Doctor was an ass too — but he also had a lot of depth of character, and it wasn’t all the time, just times when it made some sense.

    Honestly, I’m okay with River and the Doctor. It’s nice to see him interacting with someone who’s more his peer age-and-experience wise, and it’s great to see a show which is about time travel and a big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey…stuff start to act like it. I was frustrated by how often everyone conveniently travels in the same direction in time and episode time was always linear and continuous.

    Re: previous companions — I like all three of them. Martha was great because of all her badass and we *didn’t* hook her and the Doctor up (hey, if you put me and 10 in a TARDIS, I’d probably be pining after him too). Instead, it’s unrequited until she’s all “you know, I need to move on with my life”, and there’s some great banter between her and Jack. And then she goes off, CONTINUES to be a total badass, and hooks up with another total badass (I see that as less “let’s pair the black people” and more as “Martha couldn’t deal with having a relationship with someone who wasn’t into alien-fighting and world-saving, and the only person from previous seasons who was not otherwise involved and had compatible gender/sexuality was Mickey.”

    Donna’s been adequately covered here, and Rose had a lot of moments of awesome. She also was the only companion who totally threw herself into what the Doctor was doing, even if that lead to her stranded in the AU.

    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Permalink
  84. Will Wildman wrote:

    I see that as less “let’s pair the black people” and more as “Martha couldn’t deal with having a relationship with someone who wasn’t into alien-fighting and world-saving, and the only person from previous seasons who was not otherwise involved and had compatible gender/sexuality was Mickey.”

    See, this kind of works, but feels untrue to Martha’s character. Martha was, let there be no question, a stupendous badass and my favourite of the RTD-era companions. She ninja’d her way around the entire planet for a full year and then laughed in the Master’s face, saving the universe without having to be imbued with any godlike powers.

    But she was a doctor. She wanted to be a doctor, she had worked and trained to be a doctor, she left the TARDIS because she wanted to care for people, and none of her best moments had anything to do with combat. (In particular, her worst moment is the Oscar Mayer Earth-Shattering Kaboom Key fiasco.) The idea that she goes a bit soldiery for the year after leaving the Doctor behind was treated as creepy because it was so un-Martha. So I have a hard time seeing it as a happy ending when our last shot of her shows that she now hungers for battle so much that she’s thrown aside her lifelong doctorin’ dreams and divorced her first husband so she can go shoot big rifles at aliens.

    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Permalink
  85. aim2misbehave wrote:

    Re: Martha and MIckey. I can see how it happened. Martha was in love with the other doctor for things he did during the year that never happened, and she could never tell him why she really loved him, and would always love the man that he *was*. Not a healthy relationship, IMO. Then, she couldn’t tell him about the Doctor or what her job was really about, and in Torchwood we saw the kind of stress that put on Gwen and Rhys relationship. So I was actually kind of disappointed that Martha got engaged to the other guy in the first place and wanted her to find someone else.

    As far as Mickey – well, Martha worked for UNIT, and Mickey was either a freelance alien hunter or also worked for UNIT (I can’t exactly remember) so their paths would’ve crossed a lot. They’d met each other before, they knew that the other person had travelled with the Doctor, and they’re both really badass. So while I don’t think it was necessary that the two of them got together, I don’t think it was unreasonable, either.

    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink
  86. aim2misbehave wrote:

    Also, I personally like “feisty”, particularly when applied to myself. The only other adjective that I could think of that would be similar is “spunky”, and I don’t like that because it makes me sound like a 10-year-old or a puppy.

    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink
  87. aliaras wrote:

    @Will Windman: I see what you’re saying there — although I didn’t find soldier-Martha creepy at all, I was excited to see her back. But that might be because it was just my first watching and I didn’t pick up on as much stuff.

    Oh, I also forgot the other thing that I don’t like about Moffat’s run — that one scene back in season 5 with Amy and the Doctor, aka It’s Not Sexual Assault When Women Do It To Men. I can almost wrap my head around missing it due to writer-omniscience, but it was still *really* skeevy to watch.

    Monday, August 8, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Permalink
  88. Daniel wrote:

    I loved this post, and the Donna love, but the end of Donna’s storyline PISSED ME OFF TO NO END, because all of the character growth just vanished! I think Amy has her moments, but I knew there was going to be at least a few moments of cringe-worthiness when they started her off as a lady in a tiny skirt waiting to be saved by an older man all her life. I’m just happy they’ve somewhat moved away from the romantic story lines for companions, because I always found the power dynamics in the Doctor-companion relationship a little… uncomfortable.

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink
  89. I think Amy is Donna 2.0. I hated Donna. All she did was shout at the Doctor. It was great to have someone not falling in love with him, but she was over the top. And Amy, just like Donna, had an entire season revolve around why she is the most important person in the universe!

    And let’s get something straight, because I keep reading this on message boards: Rose loved the Doctor, but she never mooned over him. Martha was the one who did that.

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink
  90. Also, I like Rory, but probably because I hate Amy so much. Not keen on 11th Doctor, either. And don’t get me started on River Song, who does nothing but belittle him, oh, isn’t it funny how he doesn’t know how to fly his own TARDIS! She is the smarmiest, and I loved her in Silence in the Library, but now I just want to slap her every time she comes onscreen. It was better when we didn’t know. I loved the idea of a mysterious woman in his future, I don’t think we needed to see that story unfold.

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink
  91. One more thing, I promise: someone mentioned that this is first and foremost a kids’ show. How then can Moffat justify putting Amy in a skirt that barely covers her rear in half the episodes?

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink
  92. tegan wrote:

    Not that I disagree- I can’t stress enough how much I agree with this post. However, I do have to say that I feel Moffat’s writing is much more compelling overall. As a *story* with a complex, twisty, tiny-details-are-the-most-important, spending-hours-theorizing-over-each-episode plot. Moffat has taken Who from a monster of the week feature (even though I love all of DW!) to something much more elevated. It’s a shame that Amy’s character did not get the same elevation as the show in itself.

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink
  93. Caitiecat wrote:

    I’m kind of amused by how people keep throwing around the LGBT and QUILTBAG acronyms, when both RTD and Moffatt have completely ignored anything but the L, G, and B. There have been no trans characters, or genderqueer characters, or intersex characters, or anything other than cis-cis-cis all the time.

    RTD was good for queerdom in Who, yes, but only insofar as that queerdom met the dominant narrative: almost exclusively white, educated, middle- and upper-class “mainstream” queer folk.

    Moffatt has followed closely in those footsteps.

    When we start seeing interracial queerness, working-class queerness, trans bodies, genderqueer people, androgynes, intersex…then I’ll be willing to cut both RTD and Moffatt some slack. ‘Til then, they’re just reinforcing the same old “safe queer” narrative.

    Great post, though, and a fun read in the comment thread.

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Permalink
  94. Carole wrote:

    All the GAY guys I know liked Russell Davies better than Moffat. As a lesbian, I agree. Moffat may try, but his weird straight-guy take on things is just not my cup of tea. He does ‘creepy’ really well (Blink!) but overall, I preferred Russell’s take on things. I’m not saying all gay male writers are more feminist than straight ones, but in this case, it appears to be true.

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink
  95. Hazel wrote:

    re 93: we did see both interracial and working-class queerness in “A Good Man Goes to War” in form of Madame Vasara (Silurian) and Jenny (her human maid)

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Permalink
  96. Crowfoot wrote:

    Re: Martha and Mickey. I was told that during the commentary for The End of Time RTD said that he paired them up because then she’d be Martha Jones Smith. Haha. Or something. Ok, maybe he was just cracking a joke, but it stills feels completely WTF to me. And out of character for Martha to pick up a gun and be all army-ish.

    In Moffat’s defence, recently someone tweeted to him that quote upthread about women always dreaming about getting married and he replied that he never said that nor does he believe it. I read the article where he’s quoted as saying that and the interviewer is most definitely douchy throughout (and both sexist quotes come from this article). How much of that quote is word-for-word & how much is the interviewer paraphrasing? It can be hard to trust a print interview, as you can imagine. I’m not saying he isn’t sexist at all, I just found it interesting that he says he was misquoted.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 3:38 am | Permalink
  97. Abigail wrote:

    Crowfoot: that interview has been around since 2004 and is referred to constantly. I find it rather hard to believe that if Moffat had genuinely been misquoted, that he wouldn’t have made a bigger stink and demanded a retraction by now. I’m more inclined to believe that he’s just figured out that saying things like this makes him look bad.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 8:42 am | Permalink
  98. Sam wrote:

    I agree with this, mostly. I feel that it’s not really the character’s fault, though; it’s the writers that did them an injustice. However, I’m commenting on the fact that I really like the Martha and Mickey pairing, and I feel like I’ve got some reason behind it. Firstly, whoever the doctor she was engaged to didn’t even remember the year that never was, so he became non-interesting to me. And I think Mickey was ignored by Rose, who fell in love with the Doctor, and Martha was ignored by the Doctor romantically. And they both traveled with the Doctor, which changed them both and made them stronger, but then they left because they’re really awesome characters who can do a solo act and be legit at it. And then they found each other and teamed up and now are awesomely saving the world together. And I really like that.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink
  99. Ben wrote:

    Donna’s my favourite too. And I think that Amy’s wasted because Moffat is in love with his River Song character and gives her all the great material.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink
  100. Sulagna wrote:

    I agree with a lot of this, and nearly every comment here.

    However, I have to say that while RTD could do fun characters, I hated how the Doctor and Rose treated Mickey–it left such an awful taste in my mouth and spoiled the Doctor for me after that. Yes, I know he’s supposed to be jealous cos it’s Rose, but it just sickened me to see a character with all that power and knowledge and charisma just be terrible to another character because he was being childish and petty.

    Maybe that’s why I loved this Doctor so much. Unfortunately, while the balance between chidishness and smarts is more equal, 11 is more violent, too. I was shocked (although I liked the story) when he managed to get all the Silence to sign their death certificates.

    Also, Donna was AMAZING. For the reasons above, I like that she kept 10 in line. Some people in this thread said she could get annoying, but I never thought that–compared to the Doctor, she could be a little ungainly, but compared to someone who knows everything how could you not?

    Meanwhile, with these companions–while RTD was shit with story and sweet with characters, Moffat is the opposite. Since I want to work in TV, I was terribly critical of RTD’s horrible pacing issues and weak dialogue–but Moffat pulls the humor and pacing off devilishly well. But he sacrifices plot for characters. Amy is a plot device in that she carries the crack with her, and then is a plot device to show the Doctor how terrible he’s seen when she gets kidnapped because of him. River is a plot device in terms of her story line setting up a kind of time romance. Meanwhile, Rory is a plot device to go against Amy and the Doctor–the former through his down to earth nature, and the latter with his sarcastic skepticism.

    I do like Rory, though. Not because I’m attracted to him (although I AM), but because he & Amy seem a nice pair compared to the continuous fall in love with the Doctor/random love interest the other companions have gotten. And I do think he’s into the adventuring now, to the point where it worries me, because I think it suggests that both Amy and Rory are taken in with the Doctor when he is a destructive force. I really like Rory being cautious–I know everyone’s like “oh he’s so whiny” but honestly I’m very wary of the Doctor as a character (see my ideas on 10) and I like that someone’s not enthralled with him.

    I think Amy could be awesome if Moffat didn’t try to stuff her into a role in his story rather than letting the characters drive the plot (which is much better in the long run for television–and the reason why bits when Amy actually acted rather than reacted are highlights of the series, rather than the other way around).

    Also, I have a crush on this website. Any time we’re going to get an HP critique soon…?

    Friday, August 12, 2011 at 12:27 am | Permalink
  101. shallowwater wrote:

    late in the game, but my two cents:

    1) re: RORRY being chick-bait.

    Adding my UH FUCK NO to that one, just so everyone is clear. I want a full partner who has personality, life, and opinions of his own, not some personality-less shadow who does nothing but moon after me. I mean, if you like your guys like that, fine, but please Please PLEASE do not pretend that is what ALL THE LADIES WANT. And even if you have a different, more flattering interpretation of his character, that still does not make him WHAT ALL THE LADIES WANT. So kindly cut that shit out.

    2) I love Amy while appreciating that there are a lot of less-than-stellar things done to her character. Quite possibly over-identifying with the kid who had too much imagination for their own good and never really got over it.

    And for the people who are all slut-shaming over her clothing: PROTIP. YOU ARE SLUT-SHAMING. XOXO, ME
    You can criticize the camera’s presentation of her all you like, but you don’t actually get to criticize her for wearing cute and/or sexy clothing.

    3) DONNA!!!! I will never understand why people hate her, because she was the greatest, and completely unimpressed with the doctor, while at the same time appreciating him and what he did. And I’m so sorry for the people who don’t appreciate it.
    And at whoever was talking about Donna being in over her head? Like a shop girl (Rose) wasn’t? I thought that was part of the point of their characters. You don’t have to come from someplace special to make yourself special.

    Her ending just killed me, because she got this amazing chance and traveled across the universe and changed so much as a person, and to make her just … forget … all that breaks my heart and makes me so angry. Thank goodness for fanfiction, that’s all I have to say.

    Friday, August 12, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink
  102. Luisa wrote:

    Lindsay, I agree with everything you’ve said and were I not at a crowded, stifling hot bus stop right now I would totally write the 30 page comment I really want to write. My only hope is that Amy meets a painful death very soon. I don’t think I will be getting my way, though.

    Friday, August 12, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink
  103. Ben wrote:

    Karen Gillan recently announced (at a convention) that she’d be returning for another season of Doctor Who. Too bad. I was hoping that both she and Rory would leave the show. I find them incredibly boring.

    Friday, August 12, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Permalink
  104. steve wrote:

    Rory. Fucking Rory. I hate this character. From the episode where he became the guy who waited for 2000 years he has become for me the quintessential Nice Guy (TM). He is someone I totally would have related to when I was a teenager and I thought that being a doting passive-aggressive twit was a noble way to express your love for a woman. It’s as if he’s intended to be a wish fulfillment for everyone who believes the woman of their dreams will love them solely because their love for her is so strong.

    Sunday, August 14, 2011 at 12:59 am | Permalink
  105. Scarecrow wrote:

    Just wanted to make a note on the Mickey/Martha thing. Not sure if it’s a “better” reason as such but I don’t think the marriage is anything to do with skin colour and more entirely because RTD can’t resist a “Smith and Jones” gag.

    Monday, August 15, 2011 at 9:58 am | Permalink
  106. Scarecrow wrote:

    Oh and I forgot; Moffat actually said in a printed interview he *had* to give them a baby because it’s not a marriage without a baby, its just two people living together. Honestly. he said that.

    of course, the fact that at the moment it looks set for her to do ZERO raising of this child (hello MAJOR emotional turmoil right there) seems to be ignored. Yeah, I still love DW, but emotionally I think Moffat is just much more conservative.

    Monday, August 15, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink
  107. Chris wrote:

    Very much appreciate and agree with Linday’s analysis. I found the “Amy in a box” plotline very disappointing for a character who was beginning to show some promise.

    There were problems with her portrayal in Season 5, but to my eyes at least Amy arrived on the show as a damaged, complicated, interesting character, did actually get to do some stuff in Season 5, worked through her infatuation with her childhood imaginary friend made flesh (but reserved the right to have a “snog in the shrubbery” if she felt like it), and at the end of Season 5 was set up to be potentially something more than yet another companion with a crush on the Doctor (if they NEVER do that again, it will be too soon).

    But in Season 6, she has gotten to do almost nothing other than tag along and comment on the action, while Rory has slowly morphed into a man of action. This is especially noticeble in “The Doctor’s Wife” where it’s Rory who shepherd’s a terrified Amy through the TARDIS and “The Rebel Flesh”, where Rory gets to do stuff that affects the plot while Amy mostly just provides colour commentary. I really like that Rory got to grow as a character, but really disliked that it seemed to happen directly at Amy’s expense. As well as having sexist overtones, it’s lazy writing, as if there’s only ever enough story space for the Doctor, the villain of the week, and ONE companion to do anything interesting. See Firefly for a show that gives a cast of nine (9!) characers something consequential to do in almost every episode.

    And the Amy-in-a-box, Amy as damsel to be rescued plot from the mid-season finale not only recycled Amy-needs-to-be-rescued from “Day of the Moon”, but it just takes all the interest out of a character. Which is really a shame.

    So, really, just a big “agree”. Thanks for putting a finger on this. But I do have an interesting story which I’ll submit in another post.

    Monday, August 15, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink
  108. Chris wrote:

    Interesting story:

    A while ago I reconnected, through Facebook, with an old college buddy of mine whom I hadn’t spoken with in fifteen years. This was right around the time that “Waters of Mars” came out. Now, “Waters of Mars” is actually one of my favourite episodes. There are several reasons for this (including Lindsay Duncan as Adelaide Brooke, arguably the Doctor’s best foil ever), but particularly I like the fact that for the first three-quarters of the story, the Doctor is reduced to the role of passive observer of a horrible painful event, happening to people he cares about, that he can do nothing to prevent. It gave the episode this wonderful air of tragic bleakness. It was a refreshing break from the Doctor’s weekly heroics. And also, this situation happens in real life! Having to watch bad things happen to people you care about is, in my experience, much much more common than being able to rescue the people you care about from bad things.

    Back to my old college buddy: the Facebook contact led to a phone conversation, in which we discovered our shared love of Who. “What did you think of Waters of Mars – wasn’t it awesome?” I asked. “No” was his reply. “Why not?” “Because the Doctor spent most of the episode being a whiny pussy.”

    Yes, the phrase “whiny pussy” was used, to describe a character acting in the only way he could (or should) act in a situation that is more realistic to life than the heroic fantasy we consume week after week. On top of the pejorative use of “pussy” being itself misogynist, my friend was pissed off that he didn’t get his wish-fulfillment fantasy because the Doctor wasn’t being masculine enough.

    So these guys with these expectations are part of the audience for the show. Alas.

    Monday, August 15, 2011 at 11:13 am | Permalink
  109. Liz wrote:

    1. Yes, Donna. Donna is the best. So so so much the best. Have you guys seen the Comic Relief sketch where Catherine Tate is playing her “not bothered” character and David Tennant is her English teacher? Because…do that.

    2) I like Amy. I hate what the writers are doing to Amy. Yes, I know she’s a fictional character and therefor “what the writers are doing to her” is inextricably part of who she “is” but I guess I feel like they established this cool character with all this potential, and I like HER.

    3. I didn’t mind the love triangle at first because it served as mostly a metaphor for Amy’s choice between safe/comfortable and exciting/scary. I thought it was nice that the show acknowledged that this woman could love Rory, but need more than husband/wedding to be happy.

    4. I hated that after she chose Rory, making a life for herself that included adventure and love, they continued to flirt with the idea of the triangle. Boring. Bo-ring.

    5. Pregnant-in-a-Box Amy makes me a sad puppy.

    6. River Song is annoying.

    7. I am curious as to the idea that people vastly prefer Moffat’s seasons. I have not experienced that. I have definitely heard that his episodes on the Davies’ seasons are the best, and I agree that they are totally boss, but most Who nerds I nerd out with prefer the Davies seasons as a whole.

    8. Donna Noble 4eva!!!!!!

    Monday, August 15, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Permalink
  110. Mitchell wrote:

    Love this post.

    I’ve always seen Amy as a poorly executed but heartfelt attempt to have a genuinely polyamourous character on television. In that context, she’s not a stereotype (She’s capable of long term relationships, despite having feelings for two dudes! She’s a woman who likes sex who doesn’t have “slut tropes” aside from maybe a profession ,which she doesn’t enjoy despite enjoying sex!) But that doesn’t prevent the fact that yeah, aside from her love interests, she’s Just a Girl Who Likes Stuff Girls Like. Even if the poly part of her is the intention (which it’s likely not) Generic Strong Poly Character doesn’t have any more depth than Generic Strong Female Character. At the beginning they were kind of going somewhere with the “meeting the Doctor messed Amy up for life” angle, which seemed to be on the path to some depth or at least fleshing out the reasons she is written like that in a more genuine way. If she ever comes out and says “Yeah, I love both of you, neither of you are my everything, and I am not giving either of you up, be mature about it please” than maybe all this will have meant something aside from BABY IN THE TARDIS WOOO COMEDY TIME. I am not holding my breath.

    I still don’t get how she’s any less sexist than Donna’s “GOTTA GET A MAN OR LIFE IS OVER” which she doesn’t grow out of even after leaving the show. Have we all forgotten for how long Donna was defined by OMG MY WEDDING? But at least Donna had experiences with the heavy mindfuck of travelling around the fabric of time and space itself that didn’t involve her feelings for men. At least I believed with Donna that I was watching a kind of sad shallow person, as opposed to watching a possibly awesome character be sadly written. But I’d like to hear how Amy’s boycraziness is any less sexist than Donna’s. Davies is just better at writing females, I think, and Moffat is trying to show that he can deal with female themes in the most hamfisted way possible.

    tldr: Poly Amy is easier to handle but likely not intentional, Donna was sexist too but better written.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 11:38 am | Permalink
  111. Chris wrote:

    Agree about Amy as polyamorous. I read the Amy-Rory-Doctor relationship as having a distinct poly undertone. Too bad it wasn’t better written.

    Here’s a general question: doesn’t the whole premise of Doctor Who lean towards sexism? He is a masculine hero-fantasy identification figure: an alternative one, because he doesn’t use guns or beat people up, but still he’s the invulnerable, aloof, superior man who saves everyone, especially women. I love the show, but I’m uncomfortably aware that my love for it is partly based on the fact that the main character fulfills a nerd-boy masculine ideal: everything more macho heroes achieve by force, the Doctor achieves by the brilliance of his mind (and some inherited aristocratic privilege).

    I’m surprised as many intelligent feminist women are into the show as there are (including my ex-partner, bless her). Uncharitably, one could say it’s yet another show about an overgrown boy saving the universe while remaining emotionally aloof, yet again. So, question #1: what about this show is attractive to (some) feminists? Because *something* about it is…

    Question #2: What would a genuinely feminist Doctor Who look like?

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 12:55 am | Permalink
  112. Alden wrote:

    I definitely see where you’re coming from, ESPECIALLY with season 6, but I read Amy’s journey in S5 as completely differently. If only at the time.

    Amy’s journey was very familiar to me, because I’ve seen it a thousand times before – notably with Seth Rogen’s character in Knocked Up or Josh Duhamel’s in Life As We Know It. That is, ‘dude movies’ where the dude doesn’t want to grow up because dudes don’t want to grow up, then mommy-ladies come into their lives and force them to give up their pot and booze and video games and be adults. That is to say, Amy’s journey resonated to me not with feminine stories, but to stories typically told about male characters. And I thought that was a pretty cool role reversal. I wish that her struggle between ‘marriage’ and ‘adventure’ didn’t even up being represented by a love triangle, especially as it messes up her eventual decision to ‘have both’ emotionally and not romantically. But I liked it.

    And then season 6 came and Amy was just a uterus in a box. But for a moment there, it seemed that Amy was being offered a story that, yes, reflected stereotypes about women (stories about getting married and babies), but also subverted ideas that women are the ones tying men down to marriage and men are the adventurers who want to never settle down. And ultimately, though she did get married, she didn’t do it in a way that ended her adventures – she did it by re-orienting her ideas, and Rory’s ideas, of what marriage looks like. It said that marriage doesn’t have to follow gender roles or be about settling down, but can be the launching point for more adventure.

    And then… uterus in a box. Go figure.

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 11:42 am | Permalink
  113. Ella wrote:

    no! Mickey and Martha got together because his surname is Smith & the Doctor went by the name Smith. It’s all a “clever” tactic so that Martha could end up as Martha Jones-Smith.

    Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 4:53 am | Permalink
  114. Kay wrote:

    What a great set of posts! I just read every word, and I can’t tell you how cool it is to find pages that are not all caught up in the frankly nauseating worship of the Eleventh Doctor and his latest companion.

    I liked Chris Eccelston, loved David Tennant, and I can deal with Matt Smith; I find him rather likeable, in a mumbly and bumbly sort of way. It’s like he doesn’t quite know where to go with the character. Still. In the second season.

    I adored Rose, Martha, AND Donna, but I have nothing good to say about Amy Pond. Not because she’s a “plot device”, a mobile womb, or the incarnation of Moffat’s version of a woman, but because Karen G. simply cannot act. Shallow writing notwithstanding, poor character development aside, Karen G. is by far the most colorless of all the companions in the “New Who” series so far. Her emotional range runs the gamut from A to B, her facial expressions — all two of them — are wooden, and shallow. Unlike the other three, I don’t CARE about her. In fact, for two seasons I have wondered why the Doctor could possibly have any interest in her at all, especially if he “remembers” traveling with Rose, Donna, and Martha — all smart, independent, beautiful, women with some depth! Maybe if Matt had a strong, versatile actress to play against, his version of the Doctor would be less tepid.

    And me, I love River Song! Give me River over Amy ANY DAY!

    Meanwhile, I’m still watching, and hoping the show will improve…

    Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Permalink
  115. Trevel wrote:

    But isn’t Stephen Moffat the guy who wrote the wonderful “Coupling”, which had three male and three female leads, and was all about showing relationships from both points of view? So not someone who struggles with writing complete characters for women. I is puzzled.

    I loved Coupling, but it didn’t have six main characters. It had six main stereotypes, and relied a lot on stereotypical male/female behaviour for its humour.

    These stereotypes are funny, but wildly inaccurate and occasionally damaging.

    Rose, Martha, and Donna were characters, and although they had their stereotypical moments they also tended to transcend them. Character arcs involved them changing. For that matter, the Ninth doctor had a great character arc. (The tenth doctor I never quite cared for, from when he first destroyed Britain’s Golden Age in of a moment of spite, to when he decided he hated everyone because, after teaching them that life was worth protecting, got snippy that they decided to try protecting it on their own. So not much of an arc there, I guess?)

    The ninth doctor was a wounded, lonely soul, shattered from a war that took everything from him. “It’s all my fault” — even when it wasn’t. The tenth doctor was The Benevolent Patriarch, who was fine as long as you did things His Way, and threw a fit when you didn’t; who would torture his enemies for eternity, or kill them; but wouldn’t use a gun because *that’s* just wrong. I can only assume that he simply didn’t want “The Great Equalizer” in the hands of lesser beings — i.e., anyone who isn’t him.

    I like the eleventh doctor just for not being him.

    But RTD was a character writer; he explored characterization and (IMO) pretty well sucked at trying to write plot. He reminded me of a six year old telling a story, all waving arms and kabooms without caring if any of it made any sense. He loves firing guns in the third act without putting them on the mantle in the first. Moffat can tell a story — but he sacrifices characterization to the plot; and worse, sacrifices characterization for humour. It’s pretty good humour, generally, but Doctor Who isn’t a sitcom. And when he DOES let a plot grow out of characters, it’s pretty good.

    He’s also pretty sexist, in the “mars/venus” way.

    But I like the character of Amy, because she’s a strong, sex-positive woman. She’s married, but her life doesn’t revolve around her husband — although she does want him around. And she IS poly, whether that ever comes out as official (and even though it seems to be the sort of poly that demands monogamy in others.)

    I like that she’s Amy Pond and they’re Her Boys. Even if it is the simple inversed-patriarchy, it’s so much nicer than the normal patriarchy that we had under RTD. And they DO seem to be moving towards some sort of better balance between them, if slowly and perhaps accidentally.

    I’m withholding judgement on the current season for now. I do think we’re going to continue to see characterization secondary to plot, with Moffat as runner.

    I hope it stops being tertiary to humour.

    Saturday, August 20, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink
  116. Trevel wrote:

    Hm. My attempts at quotifying the first paragraph there got wiped away. I didn’t say it! I just quoted an earlier comment!

    Saturday, August 20, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Permalink
  117. Herb Finn wrote:

    There’s a good reason why Martha and Mickey could hook up – a common connection.

    They have seen things, and done things and are aware of things only a handful of people have the privilege of experiencing thanks to the Doctor.

    That sorta thing can bring people together. I mean who else is going to understand what you’ve experienced?

    Saturday, August 20, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Permalink
  118. Joy wrote:

    Thank you, UnicornsForSale. I can understand where this post is coming from, but just can’t agree.
    More thanks for Kirsten.
    Thanks for those calling out slut-shaming on Amy’s outfits. Actually Karen was quoted as being the one to want to dress that way. She has legs and likes to show them. As a feminist, I approve of this! Show them! Be proud and happy of looking the way you like to look, as an actress or as a character.
    I am a Moffat fan. Also a female. Can’t stand RTD anymore though I admit to adoring Tennant as the Doctor, despite all Teh Angst RTD put him through. I also love Jack Harness, but OH, TORCHWOOD, you hurt me. RTD writes great characters, then he hurts them. It gets really old.
    Great thread of comments all around, even if I disagree with many.

    Monday, August 22, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Permalink
  119. callie wrote:

    Thank you for expressing how I felt about Amy’s development. However, you forgot to add that in Season 6, Amy has really turned into a scream queen. In fact, every episode has one scene where she is just screaming her head off! A very disturbing pattern here, since she seemed to face all kinds of scary monsters in Season 5 and managed to keep calm. It’s like there’s a conscious effort to reduce her character to a stereotype. And I just can’t see her as a married type. I agree with the posters who blame it all on bad writing. Unfortunately, I’m starting to think that while Moffat is a good writer, he’s not a good producer. He was at his strongest when he wrote individual episodes. Running the show however, seems to require a different set of skills.

    Sunday, August 28, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Permalink
  120. andrew wrote:

    I know it’s been a while since this was posted–a month-ish–and people have addressed most of my thoughts in the post and the comments, but I just wanted to say I’d love to see another post when this season ends, if only because most of the DW discussion I’ve found is fannish and no one wants to talk about things like this. THINK ABOUT IT, LINDSAY. Anyway, great thread, all.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink