I love Doctor Who. More specifically, I love the companions. All of them, Rose, Martha Donna, Rory, and Amy. They each have their own individual strengths and purposes and help the Doctor in different ways. Sadly, I've seen a lot of unnecessary hatred for them, and it's just really gotten to a point where I can't stand it anymore.
I'm starting with the first companion in the renewed series of Doctor Who, Rose Tyler, who is undoubtedly my favorite companion. I love her relationship with the Doctor, and I love her compassion and her bravery. However, I've never seen more disagreement over a character before.
Most of the criticism I see of Rose is this:
I'd like to first address the issue of Rose's jealousy. Yes, she does get jealous. But everytime she does get jealous, her reasoning is completely understandable. Everybody gets jealous at some time in their lives. To criticize her for displaying a simple, human emotion is ridiculous. Most people cite School Reunion as an example of her jealousy. While she does get jealous, so does Sarah-Jane, and Sarah-Jane is the one who starts the argument in the first place. Remember this conversation?
Rose: Does anyone notice anything strange about this? Rats in school?
Sarah-Jane: Well, obviously they use them in Biology lessons. They dissect them. Or maybe you haven’t reached that bit yet. How old are you?"
While I don't mean to bash Sarah-Jane, she's the one who starts the argument. She immediately starts making comments about Rose's age. I'm not excusing Rose's behavior, either, but I think people should be aware of the fact that both women behave immaturely in this episode. People also say that Rose was angry for no reason, but consider her situation for a second. Rose was completely unaware of the fact that the Doctor had traveled with other women before her. In addition, she and the Doctor undoubtedly shared a very close relationship that oftentimes bordered on romantic. When she found out about how the Doctor abandoned Sarah-Jane, she was scared that he was going to do the same to her. A lot of what she does in this episode is completely understandable. Her concerns were valid.
The other instance cited of Rose's jealousy is The Girl in the Fireplace. I'll be honest, I loathe this episode. It's sexist, classist, and in my opinion, it's poorly written. That being said, we're not here to discuss The Girl in the Fireplace. Rose does get jealous of Reinette, but not without good reason. She's in love with the Doctor, of course she's going to be jealous. Put yourself in Rose's position for a moment. How do you think she felt comparing herself, a former shop-girl who didn't get her A-levels and grew up on an estate, to Reinette, a famous courtesan also known as "the Uncrowned Queen of France"? Rose must have felt like nothing compared to Reinette, and the issue was only aggravated by the way the Doctor was gushing about her accomplishments. And Rose was considerably brave in the face of Reinette, a woman who was basically considered her competition for the Doctor's love, while Reinette was rude and condescending towards her. And while I feel that she's a bit more passive than usual in this episode, Rose did aide the Doctor in saving Reinette, even though she knew he wouldn't be taking her with him, and she allowed him to mourn Reinette without questioning him.
Finally, criticizing her for one line in The Stolen Earth is ridiculous, and let's not forget that Rose later on complimented Martha. You also have to look at context, since Martha is the only person Rose doesn't know, she's going to zero in on her.
So, yes, Rose does get jealous, but not without good reason, and I never see anyone complaining about the way the Ninth Doctor treated Mickey all throughout series one. I also don't see any criticism of his jealousy of Captain Jack in The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances. Sadly, I see this a lot in fandom, and not just in Doctor Who's. Female characters are continually criticized for certain things that are excused in male characters.
The next complaint I hear is that she's clingy. The word "clingy" implies that she was constantly following him around, and it demonizes her feelings for him. This is completely contrary to Rose's behavior in pretty much every episode, since she wanders off nearly every time. She's not attached at the hip to him. She's not clingy, she's loyal. She's in love with the Doctor, just like the Doctor is in love with her, she wants to be with him. So it makes sense that she would refuse to leave the Doctor in The Parting of the Ways and in Doomsday.
As for her selfishness, yes, she is selfish. But that's what makes her a realistic character. A character with no flaws is a character that I will not invest in or sympathize with. Rose does have her moments of weakness. For example, Father's Day. She made a mistake and it was wrong. But it should be noted that the mistake she made was out of love for her father, whereas with a character such as Adam, the mistake was made out of greed. And even then, she redeems herself in the end. She learns from her mistake and grows as a result of it. And it was selfish of her to leave Jackie without telling her, but all the companions left their families left without telling them. And who wouldn't do the same if they were offered an opportunity like that? I'm pretty sure we all would leave our families without telling them if the Doctor offered to let us travel with him. Besides, Rose does call her mother that she's going to be gone for a little while. It's the Doctor's fault, not Rose's, that she ended up going missing for a year. I'd also like to add that while she's selfish, she's also selfless. Such as in The Satan Pit, she's selfish for wanting to stay with the Doctor, but she's selfless for wanting to give him company when he could be dead and she herself could die. And in Doomsday, she lets go of the magnetic clamp to fix the position of the lever and seal the daleks and cybermen in the void, knowing full well that she herself could die, but she does it anyway. She is selfish, but she is also wonderfully selfless.
I see a lot people call Rose "stupid". To call her stupid is completely ridiculous. She figures out Magpie's TVs are the source of the problem in The Idiot's Lantern before the Doctor. In Fear Her she alone saves the day while the Doctor is trapped in a drawing. In The Parting of the Ways she figures out that "Bad Wolf" is some sort of message telling her to save the Doctor. In The Satan Pit, she kills the devil in a very clever way. Maybe Rose hasn't read the complete works of John Keats or doesn't know all of Jupiter's moons, but she's not stupid. And there's nothing to suggest that Rose got bad grades while in school. In The End of the World, she knew about continental shift. Whether or not she's booksmart, she is definitely intelligent in other ways.
Rose's lack of a complete education seems to be an issue with a lot of Doctor Who fans. They seem to have it ingrained in their heads that the Doctor's love must be his equal. The thing is, Rose is his equal, just in different ways. She may not have been "the Uncrowned Queen of France", but she was accomplished nonetheless. She became an agent of Torchwood, Defender of the Earth, for a short while she was even basically a goddess of time. She vaporized an entire dalek fleet, she brought Captain Jack back to life, and she saved the Doctor's life.
One of the things I hear a lot about Rose in series two is that she's obsessed with the Doctor, because she didn't want to leave him. By those standards, that means that all the companions are obsessed with the Doctor. Donna also said she never wanted to leave the Doctor. What makes it okay for her to want to spend the rest of her life with him, but when Rose does it, she's obsessed? She's wasn't obsessed, she was in love. Now, look at the Doctor in series three, after he loses Rose. He spends the whole time pining for her and mourning her loss, and in The Runaway Bride, he's basically suicidal. If there's anyone who was obsessed, it was the Doctor. He was just more reserved about his feelings during series two because he knew that Rose was going to age and die, and the though of that happening to her hurt him. That's one of the things I think really defines the Tenth Doctor, he's a master of running away from his feelings. However, once she's gone, he's a shell of his former self. While we don't know exactly what Rose was doing in Pete's World, we know for a fact she spent a good time working at Torchwood and trying to get back to the Doctor. She did not simply sit there waiting and thinking "Oh, poor me" she got up and did something.
Now, we move on to series four. This one's a bit trickier to tackle because it's a bit more complex. I see a lot of criticism of Rose in series four, which is disappointing, since this is when she's matured and grown in such a wonderful way. A lot people say that Rose didn't grow as a character because she came back for the Doctor. I disagree. They say that because she now had a "completed family, money, and adventure", that she should be happy and accept the status quo. Yes, objectively, those are all good things. However, that's not what Rose wants anymore. Her travels with the Doctor have changed her, they've given her a new perspective on life. She's fallen in love with the Doctor, as he has with her, and as a result, she doesn't care what kind of environment she's in, she just wants to be with him. Things like money and her dad (who, lets be honest, the alternate Pete Tyler is not really her dad) don't matter to her anymore. That's no longer what she wants from life. So many people call her "ungrateful", and frankly it makes my head spin. The problem is, I have a feeling that if it were a male character, no one would have cared. It seems like female characters are expected to make decisions considering the desires and wellfare of the people around them, rather than themselves, and as a result, when they do something that benefits mainly them, they're judged and criticized more harshly than a male character would be. Lastly, a lot of people accuse Rose of being the reason the universe was collapsing. There is nothing in the context whatsoever to suggest that.
Something I've noticed is that people can be very strict about what female characters can and can't do. If a woman is a strong female character, she can't be in love, according to most of these people. There seems to be this school of thought that love weakens female characters. At times, if the romance is not well-written, then it can most definitely weaken them. However, it's through her love for the Doctor that she becomes a stronger character. It's through her love for the Doctor that she becomes an agent of Torchwood. It's through her love for the Doctor that she becomes the Bad Wolf and saves his life. So her love for him never weakened her, it did the exact opposite-- it strengthened her. And it's the same with Martha Jones, which I'll discuss in a later essay.
I've seen a lot of people accuse Rose of either abandoning the Doctor and "throwing herself" at the human duplicate or being too whiny and indecisive. Okay, first of all, Rose did not abandon the Doctor. She had very little agency in the whole situation. The Doctor took her back because he knew he would still have to watch her age and die, and this way at least she could have some sort of a happy ending. The human duplicate offered to spend his life with her and he told her that he loved her. She did not "throw herself" at him. She kissed him, and he kissed her back. When Rose heard the TARDIS dematerializing, she ran after it. She had no plans whatsoever of abandoning him. And as for being too whiny, Rose had absolutely no idea that the Doctor was going to take her back, and she still wasn't sure that the human duplicate was really him. She was scared and confused, and probably also felt a bit betrayed. She had just returned to him after traveling for God knows how long trying to find him, and he just sent her right back.
And, of course, we come to the final argument, and to be honest, it's my personal favorite, but only because it's so idiotic and classist that everytime I see it I always think it can only be the work of trolls.
I hate Rose because she was a chav.
Obviously, I'm not British, so I'm not too familiar with British terminology, but according to urbanslangdictionary.com it means "a member of a British subculture characterized by low- or middle-class youths with characteristics such as wearing athletic clothing, Burberry brand clothing, and gold chains, listening to rap music, driving low-end but "souped up" automobiles, and engaging in drunken and other crass behavior". I could go on and on about whether it's morally right to call someone a chav, which it isn't, but instead I'm just going to briefly list the reasons why Rose Tyler does not fit the label "chav".
Here are some characteristics of chavs:
Repeatedly commits crime such as vandalism, theft, and drug use.
Comes from a working-class background
Cannot differentiate between right and wrong
Is unintelligent, or just doesn’t care about their education or future, and so performed badly in school
Has no intention of bettering themselves or wanting any more from life
Wears the stereotypical "chav" outfit i.e. tracksuits
Rose does fit one of these characteristics-- she does come from a working-class background. But that does not make her a chav. She also obviously has a very strong set of morals, which is evidenced in The Unquiet Dead, when Rose fights tooth and nail with the Doctor over whether or not it's right to let the Gelth use dead bodies for hosts. She is continually bettering herself throughout the series. In series one, it's about her learning a better way of living life, not just getting up, going to work, eating chips, then going to sleep and restarting the cycle. In series two, it's about her becoming more competent and confident in her abilities. She learns to take control of dangerous situations and save the day when the Doctor's not available. Also, let's remember that it was Cassandra who called Rose is a chav. Cassandra is not a nice person! She considered the people around her less than human because they mingled with other species. As for the "Roes loved drugs" jokes, I'd like to explain where these jokes originated, because a lot of people seem to repeat the joke without actually understanding what it's really about, and as a result they assume it's because of her working-class background. The joke comes from a comic called "Gridlock" by the artist Spune. In the comic, the Doctor is in New New York with Martha. Throughout the comic, the Doctor repeatedly says "Rose loved this" or "Rose loved that" and at one point he says "Rose loved drugs". The thing is, he doesn't literally mean she did drugs. Instead, the whole point of the comic is simply to parody the way the Doctor overtly mourns Rose in Martha's presence without considering her feelings. It has nothing to do with Rose participating in recreational drug use.
Finally, I'd like to address what I love about Rose Tyler.
Rose was extremely compassionate. She showed Cassandra compassion even after all she'd done, not just to Rose herself, but to many other people. She furiously defended Gwyneth in The Unquiet Dead. She comforted Flora in Tooth and Claw and Rita in The Idiot's Lantern. She protected Toby and showed concern for the treatment of the Ood in The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit. In Love and Monsters, she comforted Eliot even after he'd upset her mother. Her compassion is one of her most defining characteristics, and I love her for it. It makes her extremely human. I think that this quote from the Doctor in Utopia best summarizes what I mean.
The Doctor: No one's ever meant to have that power. If a Time Lord did that he'd become a god—a vengeful god. But she was human. Everything she did was so human. She brought you back to life.
In addition to being compassionate, Rose was also clever and brave. As I said earlier, while she gets herself into trouble most of series one, it's during series two that she becomes more confident in her abilities and more competent. One my favorite moments is in The Christmas Invasion, when she goes aboard the Sycorax spaceship and tries to convince the Sycorax to leave the Earth alone. The thing that I love about this moment is that she has no idea what she's doing, and she's terrified, yet she tries anyway. She's basically spewing out nonsense, but at least she's trying. It takes a lot of bravery to get in front of a gigantic crowd of aliens, knowing that you could be killed, if at least not humiliated. And she is humiliated. They all laugh at her. But at least she tries. That's very admirable.
Lastly, I'd like to discuss her relationship with the Doctor. A lot of people don't seem to like the romance between them, and my guess is it's because they don't seem to like the idea of the Doctor falling in love with an ordinary, human girl. They seem to think that because she's not the "Uncrowned Queen of France" or a gun-toting archaeologist, she doesn't deserve his love. But, honestly, that's why I love the Doctor and Rose. I love the idea that all it takes is one human girl to change him, to make him better. Because love isn't about social class, or education, or any other pretentious reason. It's about whether or not you're happy with this person. It's about whether or not they're there for you, whether or not they inspire you to better yourself. The Doctor needed Rose when he first met her. He needed someone to heal him of his trauma of the Time War, and that's exactly what she did. She gave him a hand to hold. In series two, the Doctor and Rose are basically a happy couple on their honeymoon. They're traveling through time and space, enjoying each other's company. And then Doomsday comes along, and they're tragically separated. Heartbreaking as it is, I think it was necessary for their relationship to grow. It showed the Doctor that while losing Rose was extremely painful, it was possible for him to live without her. And as for Rose, we see tremendous character growth from Doomsday to her return in Turn Left. She's matured in so many different ways, and I love her return in series four. In the end, the Doctor still pushes her away. Not because he doesn't love her, but because the thought of having to watch her age and die is too painful for him to bear. So he gives her the human duplicate, because then he knows that at least she'll be happy. And that's really what I think Rose's return in series four is really about, to give the Doctor some sense of closure. And as sad as it is, he does get a second chance at love, with River. While I do have some issues with the romance with River, I nonetheless embrace it, because I like the idea of the Doctor getting another chance at love.
I'd like to leave you with this quote from Rose Tyler, a quote that I think really summarizes her character:
"The Doctor showed me a better way of living your life. That you don’t just give up, you don’t let things happen. You make a stand. You say no! You have the guts to do what’s right even when everyone else just runs away."