― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
from the Louis T. Graves Memorial Public Library, Weekly Book Quote
Today I read an article about Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who in the Arts and Books section of the Independent on Sunday. In this article, by Stephen Kelly, Moffat is criticised for his inability to write women, to complete his plots, to write the Doctor as a likeable and trustworthy figure, and to keep his audience entertained. Yet one line in this frankly scathing (and almost painfully truthful) review reads: ‘When on form, Steven Moffat is the best writer working in television today’.
Having read said article, and written rather a lot of Moffat critique myself, the statement baffled me. Kelly’s entire article is lamenting the current state of Doctor Who at the hands of this man, and yet Moffat is still gifted with glowing praise.
It’s a common theme. I see it often when people are asked to review Moffat’s work. It seems people are almost afraid of criticising him, seeing as he has been lauded one of Britain’s most brilliant television writers.
It’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes. The Myth of Moffat’s Scriptwriting ‘Genius’. It’s a lie we’ve all absorbed and now just assume to be true. Sherlock himself would be frankly appalled by the entire thing. We are seeing, but we apparently do not observe.
Fellow Sherlock watchers will know what I mean (although many will probably not agree) when I equate Moffat’s writing to the empty houses of Leinster Gardens. An empty façade. It looks great from the outside, but when you step closer, you realise it’s just a whopping great train station with some drugged up self-proclaimed sociopath lurking in it.
Let’s examine this case a little closer, shall we?
"She was breathtaking original. She said everything you wish you could say." - Meryl Streep, about Nora Ephron
”If reasons were as plentiful as blackberries” (1906) illustration by Walter Crane (1845–1915 ) for ‘Flowers from Shakespeare’s Garden.’ Published by Cassell & Co.
Image and text courtesy MFA Boston.
It is not about who pays for the date. It is not about who moves the couch. It is not about who kills the bugs. It is not about who cooks the dinner. It’s not even about who stays home with the kids, as long as the decision was made together, after thinking carefully about your situation and coming to an agreement that makes sense for your particular marriage and family.
It is about making sure that nobody ever has to do anything by “default” because of their gender. The stronger person should move the couch. The person who enjoys cooking more, has more time for it, and/or is better at it should do the cooking. Sometimes the stronger person is male, sometimes not. Sometimes the person who is best suited for cooking is female, sometimes not. You should do what works.
But it is also about letting people know that it is okay to change. If you’re a woman who wants to become stronger, that’s great. If you’re a man who wants to learn how to cook, that’s also great. You might start out with a relationship where the guy opens all the jars and the girl cooks all the meals, but you might find that you want to try something else. So try it.