Dora Guo

I hate to admit it, but like the people behind so many of the videos I’ve seen fangirling over “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” “Percy Jackson” and “Harry Potter” since the start of the pandemic, I, too, have regressed to my middle school self. I, once more, am a Whovian.

Not even six years ago, guests could enter my room and expect to be greeted with a slew of “Doctor Who” memorabilia. On the walls hung the posters of each of the modern Doctors and their companions. On my night stand stood not one, but THREE of the Doctors’ sonic screwdrivers and a custom-made metal set of “Doctor Who” villains. I even learned how to install floating shelves just so I could easily see my collection of “Doctor Who” supplemental books. It would be safe to say that I was obsessed with this ridiculously cheesy — but equally brilliant — TV show. 

My love for “Doctor Who” only remained for so long. Slowly, I grew out of my ultra-specific adoration for quirky British time-travel shows (trust me, there are more than you’d expect) and began dedicating my attention to school, extracurriculars and the angst and drama of being a high school student. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, I suddenly found myself with more free time on my hands than I had had in years.

My rediscovery of the Man with the Blue Box began slowly. I, like so many others at the start of the pandemic, thought I had to use my free time to do something productive. Having moved from Los Angeles to the Bay Area in the middle of high school, I hadn’t found the time to unpack all of my boxes, so I spent the first weeks of quarantine reliving the ups and downs of my early childhood through the kindergarten drawings and middle school years books I had yet to throw out. Eventually, I stumbled upon a box that I had forgotten I even had. In big black letters, it read: “MARISSA’S STUFF! IMPORTANT!” When I opened the box to find all of my “Doctor Who” memorabilia, I couldn’t help but laugh at my past self. I sorted through my posters, mugs, books, alarm clocks, shirts and more, reminiscing on the days that seemed so much simpler.

I  was also hit by sudden realization that the power of The Doctor as a hero lay in the fact that they are a doctor. They save people not with superhuman strength, X-ray vision or superspeed, but with empathy and science. The Doctor is an interstellar leader who used conflict resolution tactics and science to bring prosperity and peace to the universe. This made me think of the heroism of the doctors and other public health professionals during this crisis and the ways that their expertise has been undermined and their lives put at risk.

In these crazy and unpredictable times, I found solace in the equally unpredictable world of Doctor Who. Although I have matured past my middle school obsession, I still find beauty in the companionship, loyalty and unity the show’s characters display. The show offered escape from the news of the morning, the loads of work that were slowly piling up or the canceled birthdays and family reunions. I could always find comfort by traveling through time and space with the alien from Gallifrey with such a capacity to love, they were written to have two hearts.

As students abandon campus this Thanksgiving, we may experience the same loneliness and grief as we did in March. But if I ever find myself missing my friends, I know I can simply log on to Netflix Party, share a link and watch the wonderful travels of The Doctor and their companions, loving every second of the unpredictable, ridiculous, hilarious and loving show.

Marissa Blum | marissa.blum@yale.edu