In which Rose is a realistic companion/character
So fucking realistic.
Doctor Who has a difficult job as a show, because it’s got to write all of these women who are smart enough to save the day when it’s required, but silly enough to jump into a time machine with a stranger. And with each companion they’ve got to work around that contradiction somehow. Some of the companions just don’t get a choice (Tegan, Donna); some of them are intelligent but really impulsive and reckless (Amy). And Rose is fabulous because the narrative allows her to make some stupid decisions without writing her off as unintelligent on the whole.
She’s neither the Bimbo (who does stupid stuff and needs other people to bail her out) or the Smart Woman Who Is Feminist And Strong and never makes any mistakes. It would have been easy to have her be the airhead who follows the Doctor around without thinking, or the Sassy Smart Woman who…also inexplicably follows the Doctor around without thinking. But instead, Rose is realistically good with some mental skills and bad with others; she’s intelligent but she’s flawed. Rose’s intelligence is in the form of her being perceptive and analysing her surroundings—like when she notices that the Earth looks the same in the future as it does in the present, and that shouldn’t be the case due to continental drift (which is also from this episode.) Or, when she realises that they could hide in the cupboard to avoid being blown up. So rather than being lazy and writing her as either dumb or “dumb when it suits the story and smart when it doesn’t”, she’s consistently perceptive but she has this flaw…
Rose isn’t over-endowed with the ability to be objective and rational in a situation. That’s a combination of her trusting nature and her spontaneity. So a guy on the internet says he’s just a nice man with a wife and kids, and so she automatically believes him and thinks it’s a silly fuss over nothing for Mickey to want to keep an eye out. The Doctor says he’s got a time machine and she’s interested, so she hops on. Her rationality kicks in after the fact, because her first instincts are to act on her sympathy and liking for people. Her capacity for acting spontaneously based on compassion is a strength and a weakness (as shown in Dalek, and Father’s Day). But most importantly, it’s a consistent trait in a detailed character.
Growing up, Rose has always wondered why the other kids teased her about not having a dad or why Mum has always complained with the other mums in the neighbourhood about Rose needing a “father figure” in her life - a dad who’ll raise her right. Rose doesn’t understand; as far as she’s concerned, Mum is the only one for her. There may be other dads around the neighbourhood - ones that walked her classmates to school, worked their days away to bring bread to the table, even, hung out at the pub a block from the Powell Estate - but they weren’t the ones who stayed up all night when Rose threw up pea soup or went to work late because Rose forgot her juice box or tried to help her with her Maths even though they were rubbish at it. Jackie Tyler, Rose is convinced, is the best dad in the world.
(Mum laughed and cried when Rose gave her a card. Rose thinks, despite the burnt pancakes and wilted flowers, it’s the most successful Father’s Day to date)
This is BEAUTIFUL
Google autocomplete experiment: Doctor Who.
Type a character name and ‘is’ into Google - observe the top five (although some characters will have less) autocomplete results - examine the differences between the women and the men, and between white characters and characters of colour.
Here’s Doctor Who!
All the main female characters have ‘annoying’ in their results somewhere. (The sheer amount of times the word ‘annoying’ comes up for female characters, while it almost never comes up for male ones, was one of the things I found most interesting about the initial experiment.)
Typing in ‘mickey smith is’ only gets results for the real-life photographer who shares his name, which is a bit disappointing. I was in two minds about whether to include Danny Pink or not, since we haven’t actually met him yet, but since his casting met with a flurry of speculation - and since he looks likely to be the first black main character the show has seen for over five years (!)- I decided to include him.
Typing ‘the twelfth doctor is’ brings up nothing, or it did for me. If you get different results to any of this, please tell me! But for the moment, I think it’s a pretty good indication to how fandom swings on its female characters right now. Martha’s top result is a nice surprise, though.
All results correct as of 17:00 BST, 9th June 2014. They almost certainly will change as time and the TV show goes on: I’m curious to see what changes!
Have at it! What do you think?
Martha Jones, life ruiner: a photoset
Wow sorry Martha was TOO BUSY SAVING THE WORLD TO BE A JEALOUS LITTLE SHIT
This right here is a good example of why so many Rose fans and Ten/Rose fans are so frustrating. They honestly think that Doctor Who is the ‘Ten and Rose show’, and that Rose is entitled to be in this conversation and it’s so ~unfair~ that she doesn’t get what she wants and it’s all Martha’s fault somehow. That Harriet somehow should have known Rose was there (when as far as she knows Rose died at Canary Wharf), and brought her into the conversation instead of Martha even though the computer Rose was on didn’t even have a webcam. That Martha is a bad and dislikeable person for contributing to the ‘save the world from the Daleks’ conversation because Rose (who was ‘there first’) is looking for the Doctor and that’s what’s important. That Martha is a bad and dislikable person for having given her phone to the Doctor in the first place so that she could contact him, and daring to use it, because it’s something Rose could have used. Never mind that the one person in this conversation who really was ‘there first’, out of all of them, was actually Sarah Jane. Never mind that Rose literally isn’t supposed to be in this universe as far as everyone in this conversation is concerned (either dead, or knows she’s trapped in Pete’s World) and thus it’s no surprise that nobody mentions her. Never mind that Martha had absolutely nothing to do with why Rose and the Doctor were separated in the first place, she’ll get blamed for the fact that Rose (and the shippers) aren’t getting the romantic reunion and the ‘OMG Rose it’s SO GOOD TO SEE YOU’ that they want right now.
It’s also a good example of how the Rose fans literally blame Rose’s failings on Martha. ‘But I was here first’ is the response of a sulky, jealous child who sees another child given the toy they wanted, and it’s not the first time Rose has sulked when she realizes that she isn’t the only woman to ever travel with the Doctor and that she’s got competition. Yet it’s Martha who is called ‘jealous’, ‘whiny’ and ‘needy’ by the fandom simply because she’s not uber-thrilled at Rose being brought up time and time again. When Martha first saw Rose, she was genuinely happy for the Doctor and Rose (and check out the smug smile from Rose when she realizes that!) and was really mature and classy about the whole thing, yet people blame Martha for Rose’s immature and unclassy reaction upon first seeing her (as seen in this image set), call her a life ruiner and act as though Rose not getting what she wants is a valid reason to dislike Martha. It isn’t.
This is one of my favourite Rose scenes, because - to my surprise as much as anyone’s - I totally felt for her in this scene. I’m a pretty jealous and a extremely anxious person, and I knew how it felt to really desperately want to talk to someone and not be able to due to bad luck or technological limitations. And as much as I badly wanted Rose and Martha to be friends, I figured they wouldn’t be right away, because Rose is just too jealous and too selfish. (I like that she’s written that way, though, don’t get me wrong.) I was utterly delighted when the next episode they did become friends, even hugged! - as rushed as it was, it made me think that maybe Rose had reconsidered her behaviour and purposely set out to be nice to Martha, feeling guilty about what she’d said in a high-stress moment when Martha had done absolutely nothing wrong.
Basically, writing this scene off as ‘martha is a life ruiner’ is doing both Martha and Rose a massive disservice.
Rose, before I go, I just wanna tell you, you were fantastic. Absolutely F A N T A S T I C . And do you know what? So was I.
Russel T Davies’s quote about Rose from the Radio Times in 2005 -“when she meets the Doctor, she gets the chance to show she’s better than the life she’s been leading” really does strike me as being incredibly classist. I haven’t seen it in context so that may not be what he intended, but - think…
It’s explicit in the show itself - Rose says so in The Parting of the Ways - that the “better life” has nothing to do with the glamour of time and space travel, but with standing up for what is right, being brave and refusing to just let things happen. Rose even tells Mickey “you know, he showed you too”, and that’s before Mickey ever travelled in the TARDIS. It’s a recurring theme throughout Russell T Davies’ era, all those one-off characters from all walks of life that find it within themselves to step up and save the day, whichever way they can, even if means putting their lives on the line. You then see the effect of this on Jackie, who does something very brilliant and proactive in getting a big, yellow truck.
Which is good, very good (I like that line) but - Jackie and Mickey do put their lives on the line in all sorts of ways, they do stand up for what is right, and yet they’re ridiculed and belittled in a way Rose never is. Jackie’s the butt of jokes in nearly every episode she’s in and she’s not even allowed to fly the TARDIS with everyone else in Journey’s End. Mickey fares even worse: he’s pretty much outright said to be the TARDIS pet in The Girl In The Fireplace (thanks, Moffat) and the beginning of Rise Of The Cybermen shows Rose and Ten bullying Mickey like a pair of schoolchildren. Plus it’s quite telling that even nearly ten years down the line (!) fandom still falls back on Nine’s nonsensical nickname for Mickey, The Idiot, as if he wasn’t as brave and brilliant as all the rest of the companions.
(I will apparently never be over Mickey’s treatment by the show.)
RTD told us a good thing - one of the best things about Doctor Who- but I think on the whole he really failed to live up to those words. Even with Martha- she was brave, loyal, kind, clever, wonderful, but when she tells the Doctor “You know what? I am good,” all he can muster up is an ‘mmmm’.