Far From Fantastic

So, yeah, I’m a Whovian. I think Doctor Who is, to quote the good Doctor himself, fantastic. (Full disclosure: I only watch the show from 2005 onward; the Doctor of my childhood, Tom Baker, gave me nightmares when I was little). So I was really looking forward to watching the first episode of series 10, “The Pilot.”

Peter Capaldi as the Doctor and Pearl Mackie as Bill. (Simon Ridgway/ BBC America)

And then this happened:

Bill (the Doctor’s new companion), is telling the Doctor about how she works in the canteen at the university, serving chips. (That’s french fries for those of us on this side of the pond.) She repeatedly gives extra servings of chips to a girl she likes. Eventually, the girl notices.

“You know what I realized?” she asks the Doctor. “She was fat.” She grimaces. “I fatted her.”

Hilarious! Giving someone extra chips made them fat. Which is so totally unattractive! But wait, there’s more.

“That’s life, isn’t it?” Bill says. “Beauty or chips? I like chips. So does she, so… That’s okay.”

Later, there’s a cut scene of a fat woman receiving extra chips from Bill, and the two wink at each other. Which I guess is the show’s way of saying Bill is still interested? But I’m sorry, that’s not good enough. Because with that dialogue, the show is very clearly making the point that fat is the opposite of beauty.

It makes me both sad and angry (sangry?) when my favorite shows do things like this. And almost all shows do it! Fat jokes are so easy. Everyone gets them. Everyone laughs. It’s not just comedies, either. A lot of my favorite shows are dramas, and it’s hard to think of one that hasn’t at the least made a throw-away comment disparaging a fat person for their size.

You’d think that, with all of time and space at his fingertips, and having met creatures of all kinds, the Doctor would have learned to be accepting of all sizes. Maybe he is, but he didn’t admonish Bill for her remark. I don’t know about you, but I expect more from my Time Lord. And from my television.


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