Ever wondered why the Doctor seems to keep falling in love with suspiciously young women?
I’ve debated on whether or not to write this, primarily because I don’t ever see this brought up. Then again, if I judged what I put online based on that, I would never have sent anything into Who Back When. Now, I’m not one of the fans that is against the Doctor being in any romantic situations, but why does the Doctor constantly have to be paired up with someone so young? Like, Jesus, doesn’t that make anyone else uncomfortable? They don’t have to be with someone who’s the same age or also a Time Lord (the Master would probably get jealous) but if I lost count of my age and started spouting 903 at anyone who asked because that sounds right, I would at least find myself a good, sensible MILF. In this essay, I’m going to provide an analysis on most of the various love interests the Doctor has harvested, and judge them based entirely on my (correct) opinion.
You probably thought I was gonna start with Rose, didn’t you? Foolish! Cameca is Exactly the kind of character who would make a perfect love interest for the Doctor! Her tenure on the screen may be short, but it left a noteworthy impression that still gets called back to in the odd Virgin New Adventure or Titan comic. The exchange of information between the two gives the impression you feel when gazing at that painting of philosophers engaged in discussion, and yet there is also a palpable warmth that reminds you of an old, married couple. Maybe a TARDIS team of 5 is a lot to handle (Chibnall can barely handle 4) but I think it would’ve been worth it if we got to see her come along. 9/10
You can’t really write about something like this without mentioning the 8th Doctor. There were a lot of things that were introduced to Doctor Who in the TV Movie, and Paul McGann kissing his co-star was among the most controversial, but does that mean it was a bad addition? I would argue otherwise. While Grace’s specific age is never brought up, the movie’s novelization claims that she was born in the late 1960s, putting her somewhere just above 30 years old. Unlike most of the other relationships mentioned here, the Doctor is sort of a rebound for Grace in the story, as her dick of an ex broke up with her for ditching the opera for being called in to kill Sylvester McCoy. I find this incredibly funny. Another interesting point is the motive behind the Doctor kissing his companion. The 2nd one at the end was very clearly meant to be romantic, but the first time he does it, it seems as though he just did it out of pure excitement in the moment, like he had to do something with all this energy gained from rediscovering himself. She also gets bonus points for turning down the offer to go with him, and countering it by asking him to come with her. 7/10
Fine, I’ll start talking about Modern Who companions. Rose Tyler is honestly a pretty well-written character overall. She was a key component to reintroducing Doctor Who to the masses, and a lot of care was put into shaping her into a fully fledged person. That being said, does she really have to be 19? Season 1 kind of has a weird vibe to it with the knowledge of how the Doctor and Rose end up by Season 2, and as fantastic of an actor Christopher Eccleston is, he was still, like, 41 at the time these episodes were made. Also, I can’t help but bring up the short story “Roses” from issue 214 of Doctor Who Magazine, one of the contradictory sources of Susan’s Gallifreyan name. “Arkytior” is a pretty name, but it’s still weird that Susan’s legal name (according to one source) has the same meaning as Ms. Tyler’s. And before you try and say that Russell T. Davies probably never read the story, I call bullshit on that. My boy Russel wrote a Virgin New Adventure book, if you wrote one of those you were either a superfan or someone who worked on the show. Anyway! 4/10.
Don’t get too comfortable just yet. We aren’t quite done with Classic Who. Charlotte Pollard has become one of Big Finish’s most popular original characters, to the point where many consider her the default companion to the 8th Doctor. I have similar criticisms about her as I do with Rose, as she’s 18 years old at the time she first meets the Doctor. Frankly, I think it’s kind of gross that the Doctor would entertain the idea of any sort of romance with a teenager, let alone someone who was 18. That being said, there is a lot more that goes on with her throughout her adventures in time and space. Firstly, there’s an interesting conflict arising from the get go; Charley was supposed to die on the R101, and her continued existence was a danger to the web of time. This ordeal led the two to an alternate universe that just doesn’t have the concept of time, where their relationship is put to the test, and in my opinion, immensely improved with the addition of C’rizz. His time in the TARDIS definitely made it feel less romantic overall, which I liked, and his death at the end of Absolution gave the driving force for a unique reason for a companion leaving the Doctor. All in all, she’s a way better companion for the 6th Doctor. 5/10
While the Doctor’s lack of romantic reciprocation makes this entry more debatable, I’m going to talk about her anyway because I love her and that’s what matters. Two different sources claim that Martha was born in either 1984 or 1986, so she’s anywhere between 21-23 during her time with the Doctor. It may seem like a small difference to some, but I appreciate that they didn’t make her a teenager, too. It’s still not as old as I would’ve gone with, but there’s a pretty big difference between late teens and early 20s in regards to human development. Not only that, I think I actually like how she ended up better than if she would’ve stayed with the Doctor. She handled her emotional turmoil pretty well, all things considered, and the bits we’ve gotten to see with her and Mickey are pretty cute. 7/10
William Blake walked so she could run. We’re first introduced to the legendary author in her own section of The Company of Friends. After which, she travels with 8 in 3 more stories, before deciding to return home. Mary is kind of in the same sort of place Martha was, having unrequited feelings for the Doctor. Thankfully, 8 still has enough good sense to not fool around with historical figures or 18 year olds like that (which I guess he forgot by the time he was 10). Not a whole lot to say about her since she was only in 4 stories, but I thought she was cool. 7/10
I have my own gripes about River Song as a character, but thankfully none of it has to do with age. She states she is 548 in Let’s Kill Hitler, which I think is very cool and sexy of her. I’m not a very big fan of how she’s written in the episodes, as she’s one of the most egregious examples of characters who constantly wax poetic about how amazing and wonderful and important the Doctor is, but Alex Kingston still gave a very good performance that has been fleshed out a lot better in her own spinoff series. She even gets to interact with Classic Who doctors, something that could only be hinted at in her appearances on the show. 8/10
God, why did they have to make Amy horny for the Doctor early on? That one’s especially fucked up if you think about it for a while. Like, she first met him as a little kid, basically got accidentally abandoned by him, and at that point, she had spent years being told that the Doctor wasn’t real, to the point where she almost believed he was an imaginary friend. I’d be way more okay with it if the first time they met was when Amy was an adult, but Steven apparently had other plans that meandered about for 3 seasons. Just skip to when Rory comes on board. 2/10
So apparently Clara was 27 by the time 11 regenerated, which I had no idea about, but it kinda makes sense considering she had a job as a teacher by then. I honestly think her and 11 made a cute pair, but people who ship them together seem to focus on her and 12. This one is a bit more debatable as to whether there was a romantic love between them, but there were moments that definitely implied it (see the end of Mummy on the Orient Express). Plus, there’s the fact that the Doctor went to some serious lengths to keep her from dying; where was all that bologna when Adric died? Honestly, though, my biggest complaint with this pairing is the ship name; who came up with the name Whoffauldi? Just call it Clelve. 6/10
Gotta save the best for last. What more could you want out of a love story? Two lonely childhood friends seeking comfort in each other, both wanting to leave the confines of their home planet, and what happens when they finally get the opportunity? They drift apart, only to come clashing back together time and time again. Both of them have so much they want to say to the other, but they can hardly have a conversation without resorting to what are essentially games for them. The BBC is weak for not letting Jon and Roger kiss. And don’t even get me started on the heartbreak the Doctor must feel every time he tries to reach out, not to the Master, but to Koschei. There is always a little piece of the Doctor that still believes the Master can be better, no matter how many times the Master tries to squash it. And then we have the queen, the legend, the incomparable Michelle Gomez, lending her infinite well of talent to a new incarnation of the Master that’s allowed to kiss the Doctor for some reason. I wonder what makes her different. All jokes aside, not only do I love Missy as a character, but her development in season 10 was everything I wanted to see between the two of them. And I mean everything; when Missy said, “Your version of good is not absolute,” I was genuinely taken aback. When she finally made her choice to stand with the Doctor, I couldn’t have been more proud. And when her and the Simm Master stabbed each other, I couldn’t have imagined a better way for the character to go. The Master is the only love interest that should end up with the Doctor, should the series end at any point. 25/10
I’m sure there are some who think that the Doctor having young-ish love interests isn’t that big of a deal. And in a vacuum, it isn’t. But we don’t live in a vacuum, and this is by no means exclusive to Doctor Who. Lots of bigger and more widespread media have this exact same problem, sometimes to an even worse degree, and it’s become so prevalent in our lives that hardly anyone questions it. Sailor Moon, Irrational Man, and Call Me By Your Name are just a few examples I can think of off the top of my head. It’s important that we make note of instances like these, and make it clear that this is not something we want in our media. Will anyone listen? Probably not. But that isn’t why you do it. If you stop criticizing flaws like these in the media you consume, it starts to become normalized to you. Please don’t let stuff like this fade into the back of your mind, critically engaging with media is the only way we can hope to improve it.
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