In many ways, controversy has become the design, an all-too-frequent diversion from inferior writing as well as subpar performances. When you don't have great stories -- and maybe when you can't recruit talent possibly more befitting the role -- showrunners embrace going 'woke' not because it's part-and-parcel of a decent narrative but because it's a means of achieving notice. Notice begets buzz, buzz begets viewers, and viewers begets ratings, the true power behind the throne of broadcast television. If you have an audience, then you're typically free to do what you want. You get a bigger budget. You get more episodes. You have talent lining up to be a part of your universe. If you don't have an audience ... well ... you tend to fade away.
Now, I didn't say any of this specific to the current predicament of the greater Whoniverse. Ratings are down. Audiences are losing interest. Fandom is split, and that's the case not for any particular reason at all. The casting of spirited actress Jodie Whittaker courted a bit of controversy, true -- she was the first female incarnation of the show's seminal 'doctor' -- but, in my estimation, she was never really given all that many great stories much less great moments in which to inhabit the role. Current showrunner Chris Chibnall and his screenwriting cohorts seemed to be more interested in going where no man had gone before (pun intended) with tales that didn't quite connect with me (and perhaps many, many more, given the show's lagging ratings), and Whittaker has implied she's leaving the show only in keeping with the current tradition which implies "three seasons and you're out."
Naturally, the response from fandom has been all over the gamut, though much of what I've read seems to have centered in on the whole 'go woke, go broke' perspective. Certainly, Whittaker's adventures have ideologically aligned with the whole 'hate' and 'cancel culture' mentality to a degree, but I've always questioned whether or not a true Fantasy program maintains an audience that thinks too deeply about messaging. Sure, maybe they see them, but aren't they capable of setting aside the differences to just enjoy the Fantasy? Isn't this all meant to be entertainment, after all? Can't we all just share a laugh, especially at our own expense?
I suppose it's only appropriate that her departure court as much controversy as her casting: as I said above, this has become the way of the world, and anyone with a keyboard these days loves sounding off on whatever platform still allows a modicum of free speech. Regardless, I wish the actress well; I do wish she'd made a stronger impression in the role that's meant so much to me as a viewer, but this is why each of us have our favorite Doctors nonetheless.
As always, thanks for reading ... and live long and prosper!