With all the talk recently about making fandoms safe for kids –
I think a lot of people tend to forget that in Britain (its country of origin), Doctor Who is still widely considered a children’s show. A children’s show that adults can and do enjoy as well, but still mostly a children’s show. In most bookstores in the front of the kid’s section you can find Doctor Who activity books and sticker books and SO MANY TOYS. TOYS EVERYWHERE. It has its own children’s magazine, too:
Doctor Who Adventures loves Martha. That scan’s from 2007 but it still loves her! And all the other companions! Hooray!
Anyway, audiences weigh in frequently as to whether Doctor Who’s presence on the BBC infantilises British TV in general, about whether Vastra and Jenny’s relationship is appropriate for a family show (it is), about whether it’s too scary for children, etc. The showrunners too consider children the primary audience, and not always with good results (hence Russell T Davies’ ‘there can’t be a female Doctor because then fathers would think they have to explain sex changes to their children’ comment; but I think fandom can do better than that.) Basically, people assume Who and, say, Sherlock or Supernatural or even the MCU share a target audience, but they really, really don’t. People criticise no end the child-centric episodes of Doctor Who – Fear Her, Nightmare In Silver, In The Forest of the Night – but there is very good reason why they’re there. Because children are and always have been the target audience of the show.
What I’m trying to get at here is that children participate in Doctor Who fandom a lot and they should because it’s for them. Little girls do too! And those little girls take it just as seriously as we all do.
Please nurture their interest in the companions as role models, since despite what showrunners/popular commentators will have you believe, the companions are (not unlike the Disney princesses, actually, whom little girls get equally derided for admiring) much much more than any beauty or special abilities they possess. Young girls gravitating towards them is a good thing. I mean, pretty much all the magazines and companion-themed merchandise aimed towards children takes care to emphasize that courage and kindness are the qualities you should be aiming for? Amy’s admired for her bravery, Martha for her smarts, Clara for her compassion etc. So yeah!
There is SO MUCH to criticize about Doctor Who, as there is for any show, but I really want the fandom to remember/know in the first place who the show is actually aimed at? These guys! And these guys! Be kind to them. Please. When you google ‘doctor who fans’ Google autocompletes it to ‘doctor who fans are the worst’ and ‘doctor who fans are annoying’ and that’s going to totally, totally suck for the eight-year-olds looking up their favourite show for the first time.