While Star Trek always had a strong female following, and the rise of the Internet in the 1990s had created an increasing number of female dominated fandom spaces, Doctor Who was definitely a boys club. But that all changed in 2005, because of an ordinary shop girl called Rose Tyler.
In the first episode of Russell T. Davies 2005 revival of Doctor Who, Rose Tyler went in search of the Doctor. Her search led her to a suburban home, where a man name Clive lived. When Rose first arrives at Clive’s home, his wife is astonished that A GIRL, read a website about the Doctor. This is a pretty accurate assumption about the Doctor Who fandom before 2005, but Rose Tyler burst through that glass ceiling and paved the way for a whole new generation of fangirls.
Rose copped a lot of flack from old-school Doctor Who fans but she is the reason that so many girls found their way into Sci-fi and that’s something that deserves our appreciation. Rose running off on an adventure with the Doctor is a metaphor for girls jumping head first into fandom.
Billie Piper’s portrayal of Rose Tyler of often credited with the success of the revival and there is a reason for that. There is a reason so many girls latched onto her and wouldn’t let go and it’s not because the Doctor fell in love with her.
Rose Tyler was created in the wake of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – a kick ass heroine designed to appeal to the one demographic that Doctor Who had failed to ensnare, young women. But Rose Tyler is more than that because Rose Tyler is us. She’s just a regular girl who works a menial job and lives with her mom in a tiny apartment. She’s lost, she wants more but she has no idea how to get it.
I distinctly remember watching “Rose” when it first aired and I almost cried because it was the first time I had seen myself in Sci-Fi. There had been some amazing female characters in science fiction, ones that I looked up and emulated but Rose was the first character I thought could be me. As I entered into the Doctor Who fandom I found that I was not the only one who felt this way.
Rose is not a perfect character but she represents something that I never thought possible. She was dynamic female lead on a show that had a predominately male fanbase. I’ve heard many old-school male fans blame Rose for the influx of fangirls, which is true and I will forever be thankful for it. Because what those fanboys failed to notice was that Rose got to run away with the Doctor and Clive ended up dead.