Clara Oswald is a divisive character and many a Doctor Who fan will jump at the chance to give their opinion on her. This week on Time Ladies Debate Beth talks about her love for the impossible girl, while Kez explains why she’s not really as much of a fan…
Defending Clara Oswald: Beth
Ever since she arrived on our screens in Asylum Of The Daleks, Clara Oswald has had a firm place in my heart. A mysterious beginning for the impossible girl gave the show a fresh perspective, both for The Doctor and the viewers. The three different versions of Clara that we saw I instantly loved, especially the way we had the past, present and future represented in her. Series seven turned the companion into the storyline that ended with Clara jumping into The Doctor’s time stream to save him. A character almost specifically created for the 50th anniversary really excited me and getting to see her saving each version of The Doctor made the 2013 series instantly iconic!
Jenna Coleman’s acting had me in tears on multiple occasions by the time series 8 aired and Peter Capaldi joined the show. I will admit I was a bit confused as to how Clara had suddenly turned into a teacher, but teaching at Coal Hill was the perfect setting for a woman so intelligent. Something that made her stand out for me was how she was seen as just as important as The Doctor, even knowing just as much as him sometimes. Twelve and Clara complimented each other perfectly, challenging and looking after one another in a way that created chemistry hard to recreate. They soon made their way into my top favourite Doctor/companion pairings because of this.
By the time Series 9 came around and Clara had lost her mum, eleven and her beloved Danny Pink, the character had become reckless which proved her ultimate downfall. This is something that resonated with me completely and I wish they had delved into her mental health further as a lot of people related with where she was coming from. She almost represented me and other fans in the way that she felt she had nothing and so put all her time and energy into The Doctor and their travels.
Her grief and how she dealt with it came at a time when I lost somebody extremely important to me and seeing her in a similar position made me feel less alone and gave me something to help me through. By the time Clara sacrificed herself unintentionally in Face The Raven, I felt like I had lost a great friend and started a grief process all over again. Being a massive part of my life for so many years and meeting so many friends through love for her character meant it was hard to say goodbye. Clara Oswald means so much to so many, and even if you disagree with some of her storylines or characterisation, you cannot deny her importance to Doctor Who.
Against Clara Oswald: Kez
I’d never claim to actively hate Clara and there are far more questionable characters to speak about disliking, but there’s something about her that hasn’t ever clicked with me.
‘The Impossible Girl’ – exactly that, the title that she was given nearly from the moment she appeared on screen. Her character was nothing more than a mystery, which isn’t her fault, but effectively made her disposable. The Doctor wasn’t interested in her as a person but simply as a thing to ‘solve’ and that feeling bled through the screen to the audience too. All I wanted was to know what her deal was so she could bugger off. Again, this is simply how she was written. She wasn’t a constant and appearing as different Clara’s at the beginning of her journey in Who made it difficult to bond with her. Since her whole character was written around this ~mystery, her core personality as a character got left behind. I finished series 7 part 2 wondering who the hell she was.
What made us love Rose, Donna and those before her? They were very much real. And Clara could have been the same. You can still write a relatable character from the Victorian times or a lost soul in a crashed space ship; as long as you believe in that character, it doesn’t matter where in time and space they’ve been picked up from.
But who is Clara really? She’s a nanny, oh no she’s suddenly a teacher (wonder when she did her training hmm). Where are her family? Oh, they’ve popped up for a single episode and are then never spoken of again. Conveniently bisexual for about 5 minutes? She’s bossy, stubborn and ‘more than a match for the Doctor’ – which sounds like the typecast Doctor Who companion since 2005. She’s been called the ultimate companion because she has these traits of previous characters, but to me this just makes her fade into the background more, rather than standing out – ‘A bit stubborn like Amy but not as funny’, ‘best friends with The Doctor like Donna… except she does fancies him’. I don’t even actively dislike her, I just don’t know WHO she is.
All these poor decisions around building up the very basic core of her character meant that I couldn’t empathise with her. We were meant to be going on this journey with Clara through the Doctor’s regeneration, but instead of feeling like she was the constant, she held the series back. She was the one constantly on and off about travelling with him and I felt like her selfish-ness of wanting the charismatic young Eleventh Doctor back wasted so much of a potentially brilliant series. I found it difficult to believe how much The Doctor loved her because I didn’t understand what he loved in particular… (and don’t even get me started on how she can open the TARDIS with a click of her fingers, as if!)
Clara, forever The Impossible Girl. Will I ever understand you? Probably not, but you were never quite real for me anyway.
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And let us know if there are any more debates you’d like to see on here soon