I didn't have a tumblr account in 2013, so I have no idea how the fuck a 53-year-old Sci fi show became part of something as cringe as "superwholock". I mean, I watch Sherlock but damn this match makes no sense. Could you explain to me how it happened please???
Honestly? I don’t know exactly.
I was never really a part of SuperWhoLock, and I don’t think I was on here for the origins either, but whenever it was that I did get on here, I was just a passionate Whovian who also watched and liked Sherlock (these days I’m pretty indifferent about Sherlock one way or another, and give as few shits about Supernatural as I ever did).
BUT, I’m gonna see if I can try and work out/theorise how SuperWhoLock rose and fell, if only to try and make the point that Doctor Who never deserved to be lumped in with it. Feel free to challenge any points I make, because I’m guessing here.
although, frankly, this idea of cringe culture is kinda snobby and gross. let people like shit, damn, if they’re not hurting anyone or trying to say Supernatural is the best show ever, who gives a fuck, honestly
the thing about Doctor Who is that it has been around for literal multiple decades. Almost fifty four years. It has been around since before some of our parents were born.
Doctor Who fans were around long before the internet was invented. They were here before, and will be here long after everyone has forgotten what the hell Supernatural ever was. Doctor Who fans are now the ones making Doctor Who. They were the ones who, when it got cancelled, created an entire thriving Audio Drama business through the love of it that still existed everywhere, and they are the ones who brought it back and now create it. They’ve never let it die.
You know why? Why Doctor Who’s endured, and is so passionately loved by so many, and before all this mess wasn’t any more cringy than being into Star Trek? Because it’s good.
It is a flawed show, of course (always, somehow, in some way, in ways that vary across different eras), but one that is good in a reckless, nonsensical, optimistic way. No matter the ups and downs of its objective quality, it’s never really lost its heart.
It is a show with a protagonist that uses words/intelligence/compassion over violence to fight, a show that focuses on telling hopeful adventures that can be watched by children and also inform them of some of the harsher aspects of the world in an interesting way.
Also, it’s always been quite progressive. It had the first female drama producer at the BBC, and a gay Indian director. No one wanted it to succeed and it’s a miracle the show ever got off the ground.
People like to talk about the “screaming Classic companions” but you know what? Fuck that. The Classic ladies were all wonderful, including the biggest screamers. Susan? The Doctor’s granddaughter, genius, with telepathic abilities and a whole lot of heart. Mel? Computer programmer aka fucking smarty pants, who once flipped the Doctor over her shoulder, and was such a genuinely nice person that it was genuinely impressive. Zoe? Adorable 60′s companion who canonically had a higher IQ than the Doctor.
Doctor Who ladies have been awesome since the beginning, and calling out misogyny from the beginning.
(It ALSO had errors of its time, especially an Orientalism issue that is pervasive through a lot of older sci-fi, that can’t and shouldn’t be forgotten either. But that’s for the most part irrelevant to this discussion other than the general whiteness which is still obviously a problem albeit one the show is slowly working on.)
The reboot then brought in (some, not enough) queer characters and main characters of colour, etc, and its general diversity has only been getting better and better on that front for the most part, especially in the last couple of years.
But anyway, how the hell did it get mixed up with the whole SuperWhoLock mess?
Well, the reboot brought in a whole new generation of fans, and only got bigger and bigger and bigger, and was peaking RIGHT about when Sherlock aired.
The Doctor Who and Sherlock crossover is easy enough to work out; they had the same headwriter(s), and they’re both about neurodivergent (coded??) genius white guys that theoretically have a kind of unconventional attractiveness to them. You can see how they drew in the same crowd.
Now, how the hell Supernatural became a part of that, I’ve no idea. I’ve never been a Supernatural fan (even if I did watch the first four and a half seasons once, more or less enjoy them, but also not find them massively interesting).
But I’m going to assume it’s because it again involved white guys with Big Emotions, that the fans could thirst over, who were undertaking some larger than life shit.
My theory is that it, at least partly, was the White Male Slash Fandom.
You know. That group of mostly straight girls who treat shipping conventionally attractive white men like a fetish and a kink to explore, who will ship basically any two CAWM under the sun if they so much as look at each other. I imagine the Johnlock crowd overlapped with the Destiel and Wincest crowd, and Doctor Who, since it had Ten/Simm!Master (and Eleven/Rory to a lesser extent) as well as some nice hetero ships, kind of got dragged along because almost everyone in the Sherlock fandom was probably in the Doctor Who fandom too.
You can kind of see how it fits. The Supernatural gang and the Team TARDIS are big damn heroes with a lot of heart, while Sherlock fulfilled the ideal levels of pretentiousness that we all go through in our teenage years.
Of course, then everyone realised that Supernatural kinda sucks because it’s an incredibly white, incredibly male, incredibly STRAIGHT show that just queerbaits its audience and doesn’t know when to call it quits, and so everyone started jumping ship.
Then everyone looked at Sherlock, either went “this has its issues but it’s still fun”, “this is QUEERBAITING TOO, WHY WONT JOHNLOCK KISS, FUCK MOFFISS”, or “this is also incredibly white, incredibly male, and incredibly straight, so fuck this also”, and that was it for Sherlock and general opinion too.
(For the record: Johnlock was not queerbait. Johnlock was an expression of Steven Moffat’s own very intimate, but platonic, friendship with Mark Gatiss, and they explicitly told everyone they were not gonna make it gay. And then the toxic ass fandom, deluded out their minds, started sending Gatiss - an actual gay man - abuse about being “an honorary straight” for not making their fetishised fictional relationship canon, at one point literally the day after the Pulse massacre. Seriously. What the fuck. Never speak about it being queerbaiting ever again and leave Mark Gatiss the fuck alone.)
Now. Doctor Who had meanwhile been dealing with the changeover of the showrunner.
Series 5 went down pretty well for the most part, but a lot of people had their issues with Series 6 and Series 7. The fandom had kind of gotten too big, for a show this unconventional. To the point of a lot of people not being able to deal with the distinct change from the style of Russell T Davies, because they weren’t really aware of how the show needs to reinvent itself constantly even on a stylistic level. Because they were treating the show like any other show, when one can’t really do that.
It was all kind of a mess of:
- very mixed fan reception on Series 6
- Series 7 being on the weaker side (not as weak as some people who missed the whole point of Clara’s storyline make it out to be, but weak nonetheless, though Moffat has admitted to this and explained it was because he was under so much pressure about the looming 50th anniversary, and like, fuck, fair enough)
- people being pissed at Moffat for Sherlock shit
- Russell T Davies having done quite a few things in his era that are questionable from a wider Doctor Who standpoint, which Moffat as the Ultimate Who Fan didn’t go along with, only to then receive hate from people who were convinced that if RTD did something it must be right, because they haven’t seen Classic Who or apparently bothered to do a couple of google searches to educate themselves
- plus, a few of Moffat’s quotes around 2012ish got taken out of context because he’s a sarcastic little shit who runs his mouth
- and so people got the idea that Moffat’s a narcissistic misogynist who “loves white men”
- also people confused “plot hole” with “is going to be explained later” and complained about him having plot holes in series 5-7 when really it’s just that he was waiting to tie up all the loose ends in Matt Smith’s finale episode
Anyway, thus began the popular - to this day! - sentiment of thinking that Moffat is one of the worst things to happen to television, or at least Doctor Who (and Sherlock Holmes).
And so, that was the “downfall” of Doctor Who and SuperWhoLock, so to speak, as all three shows were written off by the wider Tumblr/nerd community as being incredibly cringy.
Now, to examine it from today’s view, in light of recent series/opinion about the series/the female Doctor reveal.
The problem is, the general attitude about Moffat - who don’t get me wrong, is far from a flawless writer, or person - has literally reached the point of mass delusion. It’s very clear that literally thousands of people have a completely fictionalised version of him in their heads.
How do I know this? I saw someone say that a female Doctor was a “defiance of everything the Moffat era stood for”.
As in, the same Moffat era that, in the last three seasons:
- explicitly made the genderfluidity of Time Lords canon (Dark Water/Death In Heaven, World Enough And Time)
- changed the Master into a woman (Dark Water)
- had the now female Master refer to becoming a woman as an “upgrade” (The Witch’s Familiar)
- had a companion’s whole storyline be about “becoming the Doctor” in her own right, with her getting a whole episode of her pretending to be the Doctor, and her flying off in her own TARDIS with a companion of her own in the end of her final episode! (Flatline, Hell Bent)
- had ANOTHER companion’s storyline end with her immortal space girlfriend at the console of the TARDIS, offering for her to travel through all of time and space with her in a direct parallel to the Nine/Rose offer from the first episode to the reboot (The Doctor Falls, Rose)
- had a Time Lord regenerate from a white guy to a black lady onscreen just to FINALLY shut up people who said race/gender changes couldn’t happen (Hell Bent)
- had the Doctor positively reacting to the suggestion that he could be - or had been - a woman, multiple times (Death In Heaven, World Enough And Time, The Doctor Falls)
Moffat’s era has been statistically proven to have shifted public opinion in favour of a female Doctor (ask @scriptscribbles, if you want proof), thanks to the above.
Simm!Master: “She? Is the future going to be all girl?”
Twelve: “We can only hope.”
Also, Moffat wrote Lumley!Doctor in The Curse of Fatal Death in 1999. He’s been pushing for a female Doctor for 18 damn years.
So, the idea that anyone thinks he’s against it, as opposed to having explicitly worked to help make it happen for years, shows that the general opinion of him is literally a mass fictionalisation/delusion.
(It’s just one example, but there are hundreds of others, like how everyone seems to think he thinks of himself as The Greatest Ever and having a huge ego, when he’s literally one of the most self-deprecating people ever, if you watch him in an interview. He’s openly admitted to mistakes he’s made on his time on the show, such as the way he handled the scene at the end of Flesh and Stone, and how Series 7 wasn’t his best because of the pressure he was under about the upcoming 50th anniversary; he is aware of his fallibility.)
He’s not a perfect person, or writer,
and no one knows that better than him. There’s a lot of critical discussions we could have about his writing, and there are a fair few actual problems with it, just as there are in the RTD era, and every damn era of Who that has existed. I’m not saying everybody has to like it, because every era of Doctor Who is down to personal preference, and that’s fine. There are plenty of rational, well-informed people, fans and otherwise, who have their -often sound - reasons for not liking Moffat and/or his era of Who in general. I am friends with some of them.
But those rational, well-informed people are like, 5% of the people who otherwise make up a sea of loud, ignorant delusion that condemns Doctor Who under Moffat’s direction and downright refuses to acknowledge some of the amazing stuff it’s done in the last few years.
(Like, Series 10 featured a black lesbian co-lead who got a happy ending, leaving the Moffat era finishing strong on six canonically sapphic women, four of whom are still alive, none of whom died pointlessly or without agency, and three of whom are immortal or close enough, in a time when all other TV sapphics are dropping dead like flies. It also had the Doctor punch a racist in the face and comment on how history is whitewashed, and had an episode slamming capitalism. Plus, the finale canonised that Time Lords don’t view gender the same way, reinforcing canon genderfluid Time Lords.)
Between his second and third seasons of DW being divisive and/or a bit weak, all the Sherlock shit going down, and the fall of Supernatural, and the issue of people taking RTD Who as the baseline for everything Doctor Who when they really shouldn’t have, anti-Moffat sentiments got so big that masses of people fell off the show, and continue to refuse to acknowledge that he might have done anything worthwhile with it since they left. That he might, as a person, have developed and improved.
And so, that is potentially how Doctor Who got lumped in with SuperWhoLock, labelled “not progressive”, and considered “cringy” to this day.
Or at least, that’s my theory, as someone who wasn’t really paying a lot of attention, but knows her Doctor Who.