You know that old "riddle" that made the rounds in elementary school, the one that's like, "A kid and their dad are in a car accident and they get to the hospital and the kid needs surgery and the doctor on-call says, 'I can't operate on this boy—he's my son!'" And then the person telling you the riddle is like "HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE BECAUSE THE DAD DIED IN THE CAR CRASH? And the answer is that the surgeon is the boy's mom and you're supposed to be like, "Wait, what? The surgeon has lady parts? Wild. Mind. Blown."
If there's an entertainment industry equivalent of that "riddle," we're experiencing it right now, because Doctor Who is in the middle of a ratings boom and people are like, "WHOA wait—people are actually watching the Doctor Who with lady parts? Wild. Mind. Blown."
In case you're not the type to follow nerd culture, a quick recap of facts:
Fact: Doctor Who is a popular, long-running science fiction series about a time-traveling wizard who goes on a variety of adventures that involve traveling through time and space with a human companion.
Fact: The character Doctor Who was conceived in a really cool way that makes the show's long run possible. When the character dies, they regenerate in a new body, which allows the show to just cast new actors every few years when the current Doctor feels ready to move on from the show.
Fact: Until the current Doctor, all of Doctor Who's regenerations had been played by men.
Fact: When Whittaker's casting was announced, a sexist subsection of the internet reacted predictably, with angry tweets and a #NotMyDoctor hashtag. Many of these detractors called time of death on the show and basically vowed to never watch again.
Fact: Either they were lying liars or the show pulled in LOT of new fans, because the show's ratings are officially up, by 47 percent in total viewers over Season 10, The Wrap reports. Viewership is also up specifically in the age groups most coveted by advertisers—46 percent in adults 18-49 and 32 percent in adults 25-54.
The series is averaging 1.6 million viewers per episode. For perspective, that's about as many viewers as Riverdale averaged during its first season. It's also a 20 percent increase over the last Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, who averaged 1.3 million viewers per episode.
On Friday, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Whittaker will reprise her role as the Doctor in Season 12.
"I really can’t wait to step back in and get to work again," Whittaker told THR. "It’s such an incredible role. It's been an extraordinary journey so far and I'm not quite ready to hand it over yet."
tl;dr: People love the female Doctor Who, which shouldn't be surprising at all, but apparently it is. Yay/sigh.