Weekend Companion: Bill Potts

Companion’s Name: Bill Potts
Traveled with: Twelfth Doctor
Seasons: New Who Season 10
Best Known For: The jury is still out on Bill’s greatest legacy, since her role only just wrapped up a few months ago. She’s the first openly lesbian full-time companion (other companions have been gay, bisexual, etc. but not considered by canon to be full-time companions.) She is known for constantly questioning the Doctor, taking him to task, not being afraid and general insatiable curiosity.

Since Bill’s introduction she has constantly been compared to the Seventh Doctor companion known as Ace. That’s because Ace, like Bill, is a younger student who was always asking questions, and had more of a student-teacher relationship with her Doctor. Ace literally called her Doctor “Professor.” Bill on the other hand called him “Doctor,” but he was literally her college professor after taking Bill in as a private student. Ace was also known as the companion who collected female friends on all her adventures, while never overtly saying that she was having relationships with them. In contrast, Bill regularly made sure her sexuality was not a secret, without making it a center stage point. On the flip side, her sexuality was often used as the fodder for jokes, such as the Monks trilogy, or “Twice Upon A Time” Christmas Special.

Being a POC was not ignored when Bill and the Doctor found themselves in nineteenth century London. It was a made a central point about standing up to racism during the episode of “Thin Ice.” For all these things, Bill’s character development was often left hanging throughout the the season instead of being fully explored. It would be as if Clara Oswald’s character was left alone after Season 7.2. While she got more development in seasons after, to become her own person, Bill will not be seen after Season 10. For more on the POC perspective of Bill’s representation there are some great articles from Mary Sue, Black Nerd Problems and others on the topic. 

It’s hard at this point to talk about the impact of Bill without being spoilerish. Bill falls between the cracks on a trope called, “Bury Your Gays.” In typical Moffat fashion, there is a way she survives, but not quite in a traditional “Everybody Lives” ending. Instead, it’s in more of a combination between the ending of River Song, living her life as the residual signature of a computer, and as Clara and Ashildr riding off into the sunset at the end of Season 9. There are plenty of queer writers who cover this topic more throughly than I every could. I highly suggest you google some of their thoughts and opinions on the subject.

Bill’s fun loving, upbeat and optimistic outlook is one that the series seriously needed after the darker tones of Seasons 8 & 9. Storylines often did her a disservice, such as when the Doctor fakes being shot to test her loyalty. However, she always steals the screen when in an episode. The Titan Comics featuring Bill are some of the most enjoyable to read. She doesn’t let him stay negative for long and calls him on his crazy moods. It’s a refreshing take that will be missed.

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