More Flexible About Dancing: Jack Harkness, the Equal Opportunity Slut

Doctor Who Companion Retrospective Part 2

“He’s from the fifty second century—he’s a bit more flexible about who he dances with.”

Jack is, hands down, the most sexualized character ever to appear in the universe of Doctor Who. He is also the only male companions who got on the Tardis without being a girl’s plus-one.

Although Jack’s sexuality was constantly played for laughs, it made his presence as a rampant bisexual no less important to the ethos of the show. Jack’s indiscriminate flirting whenever he was on screen set a tone—that in the future, no one will care.

In doing this, the show created an utterly unique character: a man who refused to conform to gay stereotypes, who was by turns very feminine (love the retro look) and ridiculously masculine (the man hated carrying small guns). The fact that he was clearly interested in both Rose and the Doctor was never a point of conflict, his sexuality shocked few people.

Jack Harkness was a character who refused to conform to any of the tropes set up to deal with queer characters, tropes that often existed to make sure they seemed non-threatening. Jack was simultaneously super gay, super straight, not remotely threatening, and irresitably charming. It was impossible to hate Jack, even as the Doctor tried to be mad at him.

Jack, during his time on the show, occupied every role from “team leader” to “infatuated girl” to “damsel in distress,” and he did every one with a smile and flirtatious quip. His relationship to the Doctor, though, was never as powerful as that of the female companions. He may not have been disruptive, but he and the doctor disagreed about so many things (did I mention the guns) that they were never as close as they could have been. Eventually, Jack took his crazy sexuality to his own show, and even stopped calling the Doctor when he needed help saving the world.

Which, honestly, strikes me as a really good reason to rely on the Doctor instead of going it alone. Damn 456.

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