Doctor Who and the married couple

At Tor.com, Emily Asher-Perrin argues why she believes that a married couple traveling in the TARDIS is a good idea.

I’ve stated before that I find it problematic that there now only seem to be two options open for women in the Doctor Who universe, marriage or death.

That said, I don’t mind a married couple in the TARDIS. It would certainly shake up the Doctor and female companion dynamic that has been the prime Doctor Who set-up since approx. 1970. It would also shake up the Doctor and female primary companion and occasionally male secondary companion dynamic that seems to have become the most common pattern in the new series. Though it has to be said that, married or not, the Doctor/Amy/Rory dynamic nonetheless conforms exactly to the Doctor and female primary companion and male secondary companion pattern that has emerged in the new series. Still, a married couple might have brought something different to the by now established pattern.

However, if Steve Moffat wanted a married couple in the TARDIS, why couldn’t he create a married couple that is somewhat more representative of normal married couples in the UK? Because outside certain immigrant communities, British people rarely marry in their early twenties like Rory and Amy. According to this Guardian article, the mean age at first marriage in the UK is 31.9 years for men and 29.8 years for women, i.e. almost a decade older than Amy and Rory. And more and more British couples are not bothering with marriage at all, a trend that is mirrored in almost all West European countries.

Taking those figures into account, Barbara and Ian from the early 1960s, the first couple to travel in the TARDIS, would be a lot more representative of a typical UK couple than Rory and Amy. Because Barbara and Ian were both around thirty, they both had jobs (teachers to Susan, the Doctor’s granddaughter) and though it was strongly implied that they were a couple (in 1960s Doctor Who there was no such thing as kissing or other obvious displays of affection), they were not actually married. So how come that the 1960s could give us an older professional couple as companions, but the 2010s can’t come up with something better than two kids barely out of their teens who got married way too young?

Now unlike the Rhys character in Torchwood, whom I disliked on sight and have only disliked more with every scene he appeared in (and yet he survives, while all the good characters in Torchwood got killed off), I don’t actually mind Rory. As a character, he seems perfectly all right, though a bit bland.

Though I still wish that the new Doctor Who would give us a different type of primary female companion than a young woman from contemporary times in her late teens or early twenties with very little in the way of a career and a somewhat dippy boyfriend. Changing the boyfriend to husband doesn’t do anything to change that dynamic. Why not be a bit bold and give us a Ian and Barbara for the twenty-first century?

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