WTF Moffat? Some thoughts on the S7 premier of Doctor Who

After watching the Series 7 premier of Doctor Who, I was appalled: fully, literally, to my core appalled. What the hell is Steven Moffat doing? Is he actively TRYING to be sexist here? Does he actually want me to start hating this show? This saddens me so completely, because I adore Doctor Who.

A couple of blog posts out there already are perfect examples of just how ridiculously problematic of an episode “The Asylum of the Daleks” was, but I wanted to add my own two cents. Throughout viewing the episode, I was seriously bullet-pointing my thoughts, from the get-go saying, “Oh for fuck’s sake, Moff.” (Spoilers ahoy.)

First of all: Amy Pond is a model? Because obviously, obviously all she’s good for is her looks. I mean, Moffat has pretty much said that time and again in reference to Karen Gillan. Yeah, I know this was hinted at in the last series, but seeing it fully realized made me so angry. Amy Pond (despite what her characterization over the past series may imply) is a fully capable woman who is truly quite brilliant, yet she’s been reduced to an object. And just in case you didn’t think she was robbed of her agency enough at this point, Moffat makes a pretty great show of bringing that point home: in addition to being put in danger, just so the Doctor can save her once again, she’s now completely worthless because she can’t bear children. Awesome.

I’m not even going to get into the “cyloning” of the Daleks. What the hell, man? Seriously?

Let’s move on to Oswin. I’m glad we’re getting a Far Future companion, as I’ve been wanting one for a while now. There were a great deal of problematic elements to her initial characterization, however. First of all, she’s a genius super hacker, but does she need to be in a mini-dress? I’m all for wearing whatever you want, but I feel like with Moffat’s track record of female characters, this choice wasn’t a personal one. Then the bit about “I was having a bit of a phase”, in reference to her first love, a woman. Because bisexuality is a phase, apparently. SUPER! How nice of you to “get back to normal” and like boys again. GREAT!

These are just a few of the things that left me fuming, and I’m not alone in this, as you can tell from the Tumblr posts I linked above. (Seriously, check them out for  some great commentary on “Asylum”.) And then let’s start a petition to bring back Russel T. Davies.

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16 Responses to WTF Moffat? Some thoughts on the S7 premier of Doctor Who

  1. Elyse says:

    I think my biggest problem with this first episode was how blatantly emotionally manipulative it was. I mean, it STARTS with the breakup of Amy and Rory, whom the audience has basically been conditioned to fall in love with, and whose relationship has been so central in the themes of the past two seasons. We KNOW that it’s going to be explained later in the episode, we KNOW that this can’t really be the end of their relationship, because we KNOW these characters, so it just ended up being a cheap way to get the viewer invested in the story right away without really doing any work on the plot.

    And what made it even worse was how lazy their reconciliation was. Really? This couple who have been through so much together and love each other more than anything just decided to get divorced without ONCE actually talking it out? How is it possible that it took a near-death experience for Amy to talk to Rory about her infertility and how it made her feel about their relationship? I just couldn’t buy it, I knew it was simply a quick and dirty way to tug at my heartstrings, and it essentially made any character development for the Ponds in this episode meaningless. I mean I know they’re on their way out but that doesn’t mean any and all interactions with them this season should be throwaways!

    Basically, getting real tired of your shit, Moffat.

  2. Menshevixen says:

    I haven’t seen the premiere and I’m honestly not real excited to. The last season was such a rollercoaster that I’m not as invested in the show as I once was, and the reviews I’ve seen of the first ep of this season aren’t exactly making me want to watch it.

    I did however enjoy the pilot of Elementary (not being a Sherlock fan, a Sherlock Holmes fan, or very picky about procedurals, and enjoying Lucy Liu doing anything).

  3. Maddie says:

    Okay, I agree with you about the Daleks, but that’s where it stops for me.

    1. What’s wrong with Amy being a model? Are you saying that a strong, brilliant, independent woman CAN’T be a model if she wants to? The last time I checked, being “a fully capable woman who is truly quite brilliant” doesn’t mean you can’t be model.

    2. She wasn’t worthless because she couldn’t have children. She thought that Rory deserved someone better, but no one else had a problem. And, anyway, that’s kind of what marriage is. Loving someone so much that you just want to make them happy. Amy knew having children would make Rory happy, and she was upset when she couldn’t do that. I see that as an example of how much they love each other, not an example of Moffat writing being sexist.

    3. The same question applies to Oswin’s mini-dress as it does to Amy modeling.

    4. The ‘phase’. You’re saying that Moffat is pretty much putting sexuality in a box, and only what is in the box- heterosexualiy – is normal. But you’re putting it in a box as well, that there is heterosexuality, bisexuality, and (though it wasn’t mentioned and doesn’t really apply to anything here) homosexuality, and anything outside of those is somehow sexist or wrong for the show. What’s wrong with Oswin going through a ‘phase’ and deciding maybe it wasn’t for her? Nothing. Nothing is wrong with it. You’re just assuming that she’s either straight, bi or a lesbian, and her being indecisive or curious at one point is somehow ‘sexist’.

    • Tanya says:

      I love that there are so many passionate but different interpretations around the show, since there really is no right or wrong interpretation – just agree or disagree. Ultimately, the only people who had very thought out, specific intent about each character move and line were the script writers and editors. But it makes it so interesting for all the different fans to come together and argue the points, so thanks for dropping by!

      Anyway, Alice Marie can weigh in with further thoughts, but I feel compelled to jump in to talk about point 4. I also didn’t feel OK with the “I was going through a phase” comment. It rang almost a little like saying “Then I got better.” Plenty of people experiment as they are figuring out their sexuality, nobody is arguing against that. It’s the fact that she had to qualify her relationship with a woman in some way, to frame it as “But I’m not actually gay.” It rings in completely stark contrast against a very similar discussion of far-future sexuality that Moffat himself previously penned. Jack Harkness in “The Doctor Dances” is who he is, and even The Doctor himself says “he’s a 51st century kind of guy” and shrugs off Harkness’ “flexibility.” His sexuality is also never really described in any rigid terms, or disqualified one way or another. He is who he is. So then, why did we need a very specific line written by Moffat about Oswin? If she is in fact straight and it was just that one thing that happened because she was exploring and testing the waters, the *only* reason to even say that it was a “phase” is to say that she is in fact straight. And why does that even need to be defined? It would have been perfectly fine for her to drop in the fact “Oh it was actually a girl” and not even explain it. It would have actually made more sense.

      Also, saying that her relationship with a woman was a “phase” may have been an attempt to mean that she is comfortable with her sexuality, but I just don’t feel like Moffat could have been so oblivious to the harmful nature of the word “phase” when it comes to sexuality and how it affects a lot of LGBTQQ people in real life, when it’s often thrown in their face “It’s just a phase.”

      • Psychapprentice says:

        I think she specified that it was a phase because she wanted the Doctor to know she was straight, and therefore a viable sexual partner for him. Just like when she asked for a word to describe her that was “…just a tiny bit sexy.” And maybe even the reason she [SPOILER] imagined herself wearing a miniskirt.[/SPOILER]

        It would be the equivalent of me telling a guy I was interested in that I used to have a girlfriend, but it was just a phase. If I was interested in a girl, I could say the opposite. I’m bisexual. Maybe she is too, but she’s just interested in a specific guy right now.

    • Maureen says:

      To me the problem with Amy’s modeling was that it didn’t show any sort of character growth as a result of her time with the Doctor. When we first met her (as an adult) she was a kissogram, which to me at least felt like it was because she was still waiting for the Doctor to show up and take her on adventures, which wouldn’t work if she had a job with regular full-time hours. Model is slightly more serious than kissogram, but we have no reason to believe that it is something Amy has ever wanted for herself (and really we have no idea what kind of job she would have wanted for herself). For these reasons it felt more like Moffat had said “well, she’s pretty so she’ll be a model” than like Amy had chosen to be a model because it was what she wanted to do.

      I also agree with everything Tanya said about the “phase” comment, but would like to add that the comment was intended to be part of a flirtation with Rory, which is a problem because it treats lesbian relationships as being for male entertainment, which isn’t fair to real-life non-heterosexual women who don’t give a damn whether men are turned on by their relationships with other women.

  4. Sarah says:

    Being a model doesn’t rob a woman of agency. It was something Amy liked, was very successful at (she has young girls asking her for autographs) and something where she’s clearly completely in control (she has her own PA; we see her dismiss her cameramen when she wants to go talk to Rory.)

    I find that idea- that a woman can’t have whatever the hell job she wants- to be far more insulting than anything Moffat has written: it’s really made me angry.

    • Tanya says:

      There’s no doubt that Amy is wonderful at modeling and would be take charge in any situation. But like Maureen says above, we never were actually given any indication that is what she wanted to do. It just sort of… happened? Whereas on her adventures with the Doctor, she showed herself to be a natural and curious explorer, something she enjoyed. That could have paved the way for many things (and does appear later in her doing travel writing). The analysis here is asking WHY was it Moffat chose for her to end up a model, when he could have had her doing any number of things.

    • Alice Marie says:

      I agree with Tanya completely. I think that it DOES reflect the way Moffat actually feels about Karen Gillan. He has frequently commented on her looks -how he gave her the part before she even auditioned because of how she looked, etc. And It strikes me as a very accurate commentary of what Moff thinks of Kazza. All she’s good for, the only thing she can do with herself.. is to stand there and look pretty.

      • Sarah says:

        But there’s far more to being a model than that. If Amy was sucessful in her modelling career (and if she had small girls running up to her asking her for autographs, she was more than averagely successful) she’d almost certainly get to travel the world, she’d be rich, and she’d probably have more freedom than the average person. She already released her own perfume- she did a lot more than standing there and looking pretty.

        I really hope that’s not what Moffat thinks of Kazza- I know how godawful he comes across in interviews, but I hope he’s respectful to people he actually knows

        • Tanya says:

          Man, I sure hope Moff isn’t actually as inconsiderate as he comes off!

          • Sarah says:

            I’ve written a rebuttal to this on my Tumblr, crossposted to my LJ (which is the easier to read one)

            I had a look for this article on this website’s Tumblr, so I could reply to it there, but I couldn’t find it. (And Tumblr seems determined to make actual discussion as hard to follow as possible, sigh.) I hope you don’t mind, but this all felt relevant to my life enough that I just had to talk about it at some length.

            • Tanya says:

              Tumblr is THE WORST for any discussion.

              I know we’re all disagreeing, but I personally just wanna say thanks for actually keeping it going as a conversation.

              • Sarah says:

                Thanks. I hope I didn’t come across as too harsh, although I do strongly disagree with your interpretation of this episode. (Or most of it.) And goddammit, I’ll never understand how fandom ended up on Tumblr…

                • Tanya says:

                  Unlike some comments we’ve received on this topic or other posts we’ve had, you are actually debating the points, as opposed to going “These people are horrible and clearly don’t get it.” Yeah we are basically going to have to agree to disagree, but I certainly like seeing different perspectives. At the end, TV shows are just things we interpret based on our philosophies, morality, personal life experience, so there are always going to be some situations where we’ll go “OK, you see it this way, but I don’t, but at least we can agree we both really care about the show and the characters.” I’m just speaking for myself here, as a fan of the show (Alice Marie wrote the recaps and I know she has a lot of feelings and thoughts as a lifelong Who fan. She doesn’t take her discussion of Doctor Who lightly.)

                • Tanya says:

                  PS Wow I had no idea formatting gets super weird if comments get extra nested. Hm. *goes off to look at the site layout*

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