I love this. Why I didn’t like Amy as much as others did. And moffat.
Why I Hate This Post
Or, better yet, why this post is just inaccurate.
I think Amy’s Big Character Arcs come down to the following: deciding whether or not she wants to marry Rory in season 5, the clone/baby thing (I agree it’s dumb) in season 6, and figuring out whether or not she and Rory can sustain a Doctor-filled life in the first half of season 7. Exactly one of these boils down to what OP describes as “Stuff Girls LIke” plotlines, and that’s the baby season 6 one.
Amy in season 5 is to some degree about the love triangle, but it’s so much more about learning to make decisions, growing up, finding herself, and believing in herself. YES believing in herself. One of the first things we learn about Amy is her fierce belief in herself—she kept biting the therapists that told her she was crazy. And there’s the fear that grown up Amy has kind of lost that. But her belief in her childhood experience with the raggedy man is totally validated, and she’s pushed into a confusing situation of figuring out which of her lives is the one she wants: the fantasy she had as a child or the “grown up” quiet life direction she fears she’s headed in. Of course, the quiet life direction isn’t ENTIRELY about a rejection of the doctor, it’s also about a change from the life that Amy has already been leading. People criticize Amy’s former job as a kiss-o-gram as being an occupation thrust upon her by Sexists With Fantasies, but it’s actually a part of her larger character. It’s not a long-term career, it’s just something she “did for a laugh.” Amy—and I think this is supported throughout the series—is a character who follows career paths and makes decisions based on what will interest/entertain her for a while (throughout the show, she has a bunch of different “day jobs,” and I’ll get to why that’s awesome later). But Amy at the beginning of season 5 is figuring out whether or not she can give up that kind of independence and marry Rory, and she runs away with the doctor.
So, you may say, she chooses foresaking her independence and saddling up with Rory at the end of the season: “growing up and getting married already, like a woman is supposed to.” Ha, ha, WRONG. After saving the universe like a badass at her wedding—completely trusting herself even though everyone is looking at her like she’s crazy (in a way the OP has arbitrarily decided is clichely feminine—what little girl doesn’t grow up planning her dream wedding with the flower arrangements and the dress and the remembering the whole universe into existence??), Amy literally does EXACTLY what the OP says she doesn’t. She decides to have it all. She loves Rory and wants to be married, but she also wants to see the universe, and she goes ahead and makes a life for herself.
Actually, what makes Amy awesome is that she DOES do both. She’s SHOWN doing both. Whereas Rose disappears from the show once she’s all settled with Ten Two, and Martha, though we can assume goes on in badassery, is “resolved” by throwing her at a man (OP is correct: there is no other rationale for that union), Amy doesn’t disappear once married. She continues to have adventures: adventures that INCLUDE having a baby (again, no argument from me about how dumb the execution of that was), but also include the pirates and the dinosaurs and the American government and the giant scary dolls and robot cowboys and surviving for decades in an environment that exists basically to kill her and an alien invasion and something with Henry VIII, and ALSO ALSO include apparently developing her own perfume (“UGH SO GIRLY!” the critics complain), modeling (“geez could these careers be any more clichely feminine!”), being a travel writer (“I don’t have anything to say about this bc i’m clearly missing the point of giving amy all these different careers”), and eventually a novelist.
(I’m not going to have time for this later, so quick digression: Amy has a lot of quirky careers because she is a Character With a Lot of Quirky Careers. This is awesome. This is awesome because amy is a lady. This is awesome because Amy is a married lady. Most of the time, when we come across a Character with a Lot of Quirky Careers, they are dudes. They are Jack Harknesses, Shawn Spencers, and to some degree Bruce Waynes and Tony Starks. the Jack of All Trades type, right? IF a woman is allowed to be a jack of all trades, she is usually an MPDG. Amy is not an MPDG, because she is given a shitton of psychology, and I will get to that later).
If amy’s arc seems cliche to you, its because Amy’s LIFE is her arc. It’s “the story of Amelia Pond.” JFC weren’t you paying attention? Her life is weird, but does include having a child and getting married, yes. It also includes all the weird shit. Why? Because Amy chooses both.
This contrasts with the three prior Main Female Companions’ arcs, which are differently told. The RTD era is LESS arc-heavy. This is not a criticism, and actually, I think that the format of the show is more conducive to arc-lite-er story-telling, so the focus on season arcs is perhaps less likely to result in good arc development. That is neither here nor there. The companions of the more episodic, less arcy seasons 1-4’s lives, day to day or otherwise, are NOT as central as the greater themes that the show hopes to develop. That’s not to say that the companions don’t develop, because they do. Rose starts out as a shop girl in a big city, unsatisfied with the scope and scale of her life. She matures a lot, learns a lot, and discovers what she herself is capable of. That’s a cool arc, sure. She begins at point A, experiences stuff, and shows up with a blue leather jacket and a gun to show that she now knows stuff. Unfortunately, Rose is also made a Love Interest, which means fandom and then fanservice writing cares more about how her love life turns out. Rose’s Personal Growth arc is reasonably complete at the end of season 2: everyone knows how capable and strong and amazing she is by then; so why isn’t she allowed to leave in peace? Because her Love Story ain’t over. When she comes back, we SEE how much she’s grown from the girl at the beginning of series 1…. the Growing Up part of her story is done. The Love Interest part isn’t. Rose is allowed to leave once she’s got her man.
Okay, that’s fine. That’s one companion. They did the love story, and sure it overshadowed everything else in her character arc, but hey, we got a bright shining new companion, Martha, to do other things with! Right?
She’s a doctor! She’s a woman of color! And we just had the LAST companion in a love thingy with the doctor, so it’s not like they’re going to do it again, right?
Ha ha ha.
Now, Martha on an episodic basis does all sorts of cool stuff, and to dismiss that would be to make what I believe is the OPs original mistake of ignoring Amy’s episodic behavior and reducing her to sweeping generalizations. HOWEVER, if we ARE talking about Martha’s arc, let’s talk about how it is about her unrequited love for the doctor. Of course it’s about more than that, but…. mostly it’s her unrequited love for the doctor. She can’t travel with him because she’s just pining for him and he’s just pining for Rose, and in order to stop with all the pining, she has to get out. She is awesome on her own and with the doctor, she doesn’t get to feel how truly awesome she is. That’s an A1 personal victory, go Martha. But that marks the end of Martha’s service on the show. With a few episodes’ exception, we do not witness Martha’s development beyond getting over her love for him. That IS her development.
Martha is prepping to be a doctor when she runs away with the doctor, whereas Amy is prepping to get married when she takes off. One of these seems like a way more progressive story line than the other, but Martha’s feelings/thoughts/etc. about being a doctor (with a very few exceptions—her Fuck You in the Human Nature/Family of Blood is kind of a subtle one) or about her life in general (as OP pointed out, her family pops up from time to time but aren’t the focus of Martha’s narrative) are not explored. Amy’s fears and doubts about her life decisions—silly “Stuff Girls Like” stuff, as OP sees it, though as I have argued, it’s not JUST about marriage, so how about no—on the other hand, are a major driving force of Season 5. Amy’s psyche is all over the fucking show. Amy’s decisions, Amy’s life, Amy’s doubts, Amy’s belief are all hugely important to the Amy era. The doctor’s shit is still important, but How The Doctor Feels About the Timelords, How the Doctor Feels About the Daleks, How the Doctor Feels About Rose aren’t the only personal story lines at this point. For Martha, when she IS allowed a slice of the emotional/personal scenes, it’s almost entirely about how the doctor treats her like shit bc he’s hung up on Rose. Or bc he’s has his memory erased and that makes him kind of a dick. And still hung up on Rose.
AMY is a romantic/sexual object on the show? Of these three, Amy is the only one whose love life doesn’t eat away at everything else! Amy is allowed to have a husband AND crazy adventures! Even if you DO reduce season 5 Amy to a love triangle, which I think is a mistake, at least she’s given some fucking psychology about it, and not just unquestionably in love with the doctor (in fact what I like about the love triangle is that Amy ISNT in love with the doctor—she’s in love with the freedom she thinks she might have to give up and that he represents, and also she really wants to bone). Martha and Rose are in love with the doctor because of COURSE THEY ARE! HOW COULD THEY NOT BE! HOW COULD A WOMAN WANT ANYTHING ELSE??? DONT THEY JUST HITCH THEMSELVES TO THE CLOSEST MOST POWERFUL THING WITH A DICK? (shit, let’s go all out and go back and retroactively make Sarah Jane, one of the most universally loved Classic Who companions, in love with the doctor too and consequently celibate bc “no one could ever live up to him”). Mickey, the guy Rose grew up with and would do anything for her, is barely a serious consideration once the doctor is in the picture. But AMY doesn’t have agency? Amy’s fucking agency is the whole fucking point goddammit.
Amy’s arc is lame and cliche? No, Amy’s arc is a weird ass version of a “normal life.” She experiences the “normal” stuff—house, job, husband—and she goes on her crazy ass adventures, and the reason it includes the “Stuff Girls Like” is because the show is concerned with Amy’s Whole Life. The other companions stop their normal lives to go travel with the doctor—they visit family, sure, but the normal is put on pause. Amy brings her fucking life with her, and THATS PART OF THE SHOW DURING THE AMY ERA.
oh, but she’s rescued on two separate occasions, so she’s just a useless, sexualized damsel in distress oooooohkay dokey.