So, we've seen the season premiere of Doctor Who, and the stinger revealed our mysteries for the season: Just what is the Promised Land, and who is this Missy? It finally brought into focus a question that's been nagging at me for a while: Can Steven Moffat write a female character who ISN'T obsessed with the title character?
Our mystery woman Missy refers to the Doctor as her boyfriend, swears he loves her, and goes on like they've been in a relationship for a while now. I'm 100% certain the Doctor's never laid eyes on her before. She's crazy.
Mme. Du Pompadour, The Girl in the Fireplace, meets the 10th Doctor for five minutes as a young girl, and is ready to 'dance' with him once she's a grown-up— despite not having seen him for at least a decade.
A very similar statement can be made about Amy Pond, who likewise, met him for about ten minutes, and spent the next 15 years or so obsessing, getting therapy for it, and biting her therapists. We laugh it off as kinda charming, but consider that Amy ran off with the Doctor the night before her wedding.
You can say it runs in the family! River Song is far and away the biggest Doctor fanatic of them all: A dynamic, dangerous character... whose main motivation for doing anything is to spend time with the Doctor. (Seriously. She actually seems content to stay in prison most of the time, unless the Doctor comes a-calling.)
You can blame Madame Kovarian, in part. She's every bit as obsessed with the Doctor, hellbent on his destruction, and she passed that obsession on to River. She's not like the Daleks, who've feared him for centuries, or the Cybermen, who see him as a problem to be deleted or assimilated. No. She relishes it. She actually enjoys hating him. It's personal for her, long before they ever meet.
She tampers with the fabric of the universe— for reasons that aren't explained throughout her season— in order to destroy him. And she does it with a smile on her face. Here's the thing: I've seen Daleks with more depth than her. She is entirely one-note.
Over on Sherlock, it's not any better. Molly Hooper? Hopelessly in love with Sherlock. Then there's Irene Adler, the most famous woman in the canon. Forget about a woman who's his intellectual equal, who gets away scot-free in A Scandal in Bohemia. On Sherlock, she's a dominatrix whose defining traits are: a) her sexuality, b) she fell in love with Sherlock long before she met him despite being a lesbian, and c) she's not above committing treason. Isn't she charming?
Back on DW in A Good Man Goes To War, you've got Lorna Bucket: a young woman who joined the army on the off chance she'd run into the Doctor again, someday.
In Time of the Doctor, we meet Tasha Lem, a woman in a position of phenomenal power, who's busy saving a planet ravaged by war... or flirting with the Doctor. Yeah.
There are almost exceptions, though. The women in The Rebel Flesh and The Almost People have their own problems, their own relationships, their own lives... and those episodes were written by Matthew Graham.
The only real exceptions I can think of, are women who are already in other romantic relationships. Mary Morstan on Sherlock is thankfully already deeply in love with Watson, by the time Holmes returns to their lives.
There's also Madame Vastra and Jenny (who should totally get a spin-off), who are happily married. But for a couple with their own home, lives, and careers, it's easy to argue that their lives still revolve around the Doctor. (Scratch that. They should absolutely get their own spin-off. I'd be delighted to see what they're like when the Doctor's not around to eclipse them.)
Folks have asked me to sound off on some of the male characters, out of fairness. I'm sticking to just the ones brought in under Moffat's pen.
Capt. Jack Harkness: The galaxy's only pansexual immortal, Jack Harkness fell for the Doctor's charms as much as Martha did— enough to shake his head and give her a wistful, "You too?" Harkness certainly carried a torch for the Time Lord, enough to start up a whole alien-crime-fighting organization in his honor. That being said, he was more than capable of operating on his own, and was happy to seduce other folks more available than the Doctor.
Rory Williams certainly got sucked into the Doctor's wake, but he never lost his perspective. He called the Doctor out at their second meeting, telling him how dangerous he was to be around. Rory had a career of his own outside the Doctor's orbit, and (at first) only stuck around to keep an eye on Amy.
Dorium Maldovar was a black marketeer who owed the Doctor a favor big enough to pay him back at the cost of his life (kinda). He was coy and playful, but he never gave the impression that he was obsessed or fixated on the Doctor. Where would the profit be in that?
The Doctor left a mark on Canton Everett Delaware III, enough of one for him to show up thirty years after their first meeting, with no (known) communiques in the interim. Again— Canton had his own life, his own relationships, and when his work was done with the Doctor, he turned around and left without a backward glance.
The captain of the Teselecta— if he had a name— didn't seem obsessed. He knew who the Doctor was from his records, but other than offering to help him out of a (rather tight) bind, he wasn't obsessed.
Brian, aka Rory's Dad. Okay. An argument can definitely be made for Brian being a bit gobsmacked and drawn in by the Doctor's strong gravity. He's retired, and was more than happy to do whatever the Doctor told him to do throughout the Year of the Long Invasion. But obsessed? No.
So... how about it? Can Steven Moffat write a woman who's not obsessed with the main character? Am I being unfair? Sound off in the comments! Let me know what you think.
Casey Jones is an author and voice-over artist. He does not deny being obsessed with the Doctor.