TL; DR: Clara (and Amy, for that matter) isn’t inconsistent, she’s complex. Pay some fucking attention.
Many of the things you people name as “lack of characterization” is characterization.
Long answer: RTD tended to base his characters around some central idea, and tell us loudly what we’re supposed to think of them. Moffat gives us lots of detail and expects that we put it together ourselves. The information is there. TONS of it is there. With Clara, they spend her first four episodes giving us bucketloads of info on her, down to her family history and how it shaped her beliefs. I’m not saying one is better than the other, and you’re entitled to your personal taste, but they’re different techniques, the communication happens of different levels.
While I very much like Rose and Martha (and think that RTD’s craftsmanship must be applauded in how he made them very relatable – a young person with a bleak outlook for the future, a young professional with a stressful life full of exams/ big noisy family, a 30+ person struggling with finding employment and it’s psychological implications… that was all of us back in 2008. He also made them very realistic in their types of stress responses. Finally, female characters who can be pure and selfless but are still allowed negative emotion!), I somewhat prefer Moffat because his character feel less artificial to me personally, I like to be respected/challenged as an audience member and I suppose purely personal taste preference for his aesthetics and similar background.
I also disliked the character shilling, they didn’t even need it since they were actually decent characters – It was annoying with Donna and created needless negativity with Rose. I suppose in some context, some anvils need to be dropped, since a huge part of their plots was to get the world to acknowledge their value.
Moffat is just using show-don’t-tell here. You need to pay fucking attention. Why she acts the way she does is all in “Rings of Akhaten”.
Her mother raised her with stories, she loves books, we see a pic of her in her graduation robes. She’s got this recurring fear of being lost and out-of-control, and she uses order to cope with that, which lead her to becoming a perfectionist. Her example inspired her to work with children and become a mentor figure herself (As we see demonstrated with the random little girl, complete with flashbacks)
In the scene where she takes the leaf in her hand and blows up the old god, she says herself that she sees her mum’s legacy and unlived days as “passed onto her” – She has a huge complex about living up to her mum’s legacy.
Which is another reason why she’s so perfectionist – this is also exemplified in how she carries/keep her mo’s ‘101 places to see’ book around and her repeated unsuccessful attempts at cooking. As much as Clara tries to be like her mum, they’re different, she’s not a good cook, nor really suited to the “get marries & have babies scenario” (and series 8 was much about her accepting that) but has other strengths.
As for the rest of her family, PAY ATTENTION. All there:
- Dave: We see them being very affectionate in the childhood flashbacks, she has a pic of him on her bookcase and we see in ‘Bells of Saint John’ that he regularly calls her.. He’s used to Clara’s ‘weirdness’ (given that he wisely e-mailed her how to prepare a turkey) and how he’s like, “I don’t think Clara wants to talk about it” in TToTD, but Clara isn’t very open to him, possibly because he remarried. She does see visiting her family as a chore, mostly because it means she has to fake cheerfulness/ a facade of perfection (she tries hard to present them presentable food and a normal significant other, but things go south and before she knows she wound up stranded in the middle of Glasgow) – By the end of series 8, this attitude has changed and her many losses taught her the value of taking your time to value the people you love
- Linda the step mother – Their interactions are very frosty, we see Clara pissed off at how Linda changed the “family traditions” (poems instead of jokes in the crackers), and how Linda assumes she’s interested in typical hobbies/ presumtously tries to set her up/ gives her shit about being single
- The awesometastic grandmother – Probably where Clara gets some of her quiry crazy awesome(and taste in guys) from. Also one of the few people who can see straight through Clara’s facade to her real feelings – as evidenced when she realizes how heartbroken she really is in TTotD and shows her comforting gestures/ tells her that story about her first love to get her to open up and cry. She tries the same in “Dark Water”/ realizes that Clara is really in denial over what happened and should let it out vent.
I mean, no person acts the same in all contexts. No person is just completely discribed by some string of adjectives or their job; And Clara in particular is supposed to be somewhat hard to pin down and have a facade going (As Emma says in “Hide”, she rarely displays the full extent of her feelings. – be it plain old fear, or her crush on the Doctor.)
Basically, he is a secretive person who tries to keep the bonds he has with people “manageable” because he knows they’ll end eventually, but can’t help himself from growing attached. So the writers had the idea of putting him with a love interest who is exactly the same.
Don’t really see the big shift from nanny to teacher – the Maitlands grew up, and she continued working with children because she obviously loves it.
Same with Amy and her jobs – Amy, from day one, is established as a wild free-spirit who doesn’t like to be tied down or make long-term plans. That’s the obvious bottom line/foundation of who she is. It’s why she was reluctant to get married as young as 21, and just like she doen’t easily pick one guy unless she’s really, really sure, she didn’t stick to one job until she found the perfect one. In part because that’s just how she is, in part because she’s had many disillusionments with her parents vanishing into nothing and heronly vaguely recalling her, the people in the village bullying her/ not quite fitting in after moving to England, and of course, the Doctor showing up years too late. People like that exist and to say that this isn’t “real” is pretty damn insulting IMHO.
Even still, the jobs are all somewhat rooted in her personality:
- The ‘Kissogram’ thing makes perfect sense since she’s very comfortable with her sexuality and uses it to project confidence. Of course, that she whimsically picked a job that is “fun” shows her limited commitment.
- She became a Model because she’s interested in fashion, duh. She’s always wearing multiple layers and tons of makeup/eyeshadow/nail polish/ hair decorations.
- “Journalist” makes all the sense, we’ve seen her investigate n her own/ creatively gain access to places since s5.
- In the end “writer” winds up being the perfect job for someone who’s been a professional adventurer and always had associations to imagination and storytelling – That she is artistically inclined and a lot more intelligent than one might think has been hinted since series 5. Her little arts & crafts and love for expressionist painters anyone?
“Parents” aren’t the only home life there is – To begin with, having heavy focus on Rose’s and Donna’s families was something exclusive/new to RTD, which he did because it hadn’t been done before and was therefore interesting; Most classic companions had little ties to their place of origin. (as you would expect) and it made sense for Amy to be less tied to it as a variation.
The Ponds are still pretty influenced by their small village upbringing (As opposed to Rose, Martha and Donna living in a big city) – Amy is the archetypical ‘village weirdo’, Rory is your typical reliable, good-hearted down-to earth village boy, and Mels used to be the troublemaking displaced city kid of sorts back in the day.
Heavily featuring Rose’s, Martha’s & Donna’s families made sense for them: Rose is relatively young, Martha’s whole plot is about learning to live life for herself instead of for others and think of her own feelings, too, and Donna is poor and as we learn in “turn left”, wanted to care for her mother and grandfather in their old age/ prove her worth for them.
But not everyone lives with their parents, and not everyone is a family person.; People grow up, leave home, live on their own and then your parents are an occasionally thing you see at Christmas or the like. Clara is professionally focussed, so we see a lot of her personal life relating to her job; The Maitlands, and later, the school, feature very prominently.
(Amy, on the other hand, got married and founded her own family. That was sort of her whole shtick, bringing her husband & daughter along. We see her family life on screen every day – Rory, River and the Doctor are her family, all also doubling as BFFs. She didn’t know that River was her daughter for most of the time, but there was still relationship development, they immediately hit it off right in “Time of Angels”)
Amy was a vigorous hockey player, used to own a cat, loves art, she was fairly isolated/ considered a tomboy as a kid but that completely changed once she hit her teens, discarded her original name, ore or less stopped believing instories & got popular with the boys (though a part of her ever really stopped)
Clara was interested in philosophy since her teens and always eschewed age-typical interests such as boybands, we see her loving literature (interestingly enough, including Amy’s books) she own a motor bike and frequently wears biker boots, unlike Amy who is fashionable, she has her very own distinct style, and she also loves tea a lot.
Tell me a single hobby or Rose or Martha’s. Donna sorta gets shopping/gossip, but that’s not much. Doesn’t mean they were worse characters, but that the focus was different, less on the personal/pivate/aesthetic and more on the socioeconomics – at the end of the day, the premise of the show is “main characters investigate a mystery”, and we rarely see them just chilling out somewhere…It’s not like we ever met those friends Rose kept mentioning (Shareen? I’m still waiting for that fanfic. )
As for Clara’s Echoes, besides growin up in different places/settings, you have to remember that Clara spawned them at the end of series 7. There’s supposed to be a disconnect when we meet her in Bells of Saint John, because the eps before were an out-of-sequence meeting (See River) – At first she’s a lot more reluctant, not quite as confident and had her dreams more or less shelved/acted more cautious, but over s7 we see her get into many situations where she has to take the lead or solve the problems by herself.
At first,she just vonlunteers because no one else does and she has a good idea, but we see her become more forward/confident in her role and by “Nighmare in Silver” she clearly relishes being in command. , and that’s how her duplicated wind up acting, but the base personality is more or less the same, although different situations exposition different parts of it.
(She then proceeds to become a firmer idealist after the time skip, best exemplified in DotD, but winds up becoming more pragmatic over s8.)
Same thing, really, happens when people call River inconsistent or otherwise cannot differentiate between her independent mature older self and the crazy younger version from LKH/TWROS and how we gradually see one become the other.
You know, I’m dissapointed, too Because here’s one of the most unique, mesmerizing, dynamic characters (female or otherwise) to come out of fiction lately, and youre overlooking her through your hate goggles/ oversimlification-o-vision.
The writers are not the ones reducing them to lot devices; haters are.
I love this a lot (especially the bit about RTD’s companions rarely having hobbies, that’s a very good point. Although I like to think Martha’s interest in Harry Potter counts, even if that was only mentioned in one episode) and it would totally be worth a reblog anyway, but I absolutely couldn’t resist…
(Shareen? I’m still waiting for that fanfic. ) Wait no longer!