CLOSE

Jodie Whittaker becomes the first ever female Doctor in the show’s 50-year history.
Wochit

The Doctor is coming to save us. And we can’t wait to meet her.  

The protagonist of long-running British sci-fi series Doctor Who is a time-traveling alien with two hearts, a changing face and a big blue box (the TARDIS) that’s bigger on the inside.  

Each actor who has taken on the mantle of the Doctor has made the character his own. Current Doctor Peter Capaldi is older, wiser and a little bit meaner than most who came before. But the one through-line for 54 years of adventures in time and space? The Doctor has always been a man. Until now. 

On Sunday, the BBC announced with fanfare that the 13th Doctor — taking over after Capaldi exits in this year’s Christmas special — will be a woman, played by Jodie Whittaker. 

It’s a huge, historic moment for the series and many of its fans, who have been clamoring for a more diverse Doctor for nearly a decade. And it’s absolutely the right thing to do for a show that has long embraced progress and change. 

For the fanboys complaining about the “PC” choice, it’s important to remember that the show established that the Doctor could change into a woman by having his enemy, the Master, regenerate into a woman (Michelle Gomez). But harping on the specific rules of the mythology misses the point of Doctor Who. The magic of the show is that almost anything can happen. The rules aren’t as important as the sense of adventure, the magic of seeing new worlds, new beings and new ideas. It makes perfect sense that this show would allow a new perspective to drive this discovery. 

Whittaker’s casting is also significant because of Doctor Who‘s poor track record with its female characters. They tend to be underdeveloped and sometimes scantily clad, traveling as the Doctor’s companion and (often) love interest. They are later discarded in cruel and tragic ways as the Doctor moves on through time and space. Some are strong and commanding on their own — Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) from the classic series, and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) from Season 4 are good examples. But they’re exceptions. 

In particular, the companions hired by current executive producer Stephen Moffat are often…