7 best times they gender-swapped characters on TV
Christmas Day saw the long-awaited debut of the first female Doctor Who as Jodie Whittaker entered the TARDIS for the first time.
When Whittaker was announced, it led to some backlash from fans who just couldn't believe that a made-up character could potentially be a woman, but it isn't the first time that a show has risked the anger of fans by gender-swapping key roles.
Changing a male character into a female is a good way of ensuring greater roles for women on screen and, more often than not, turns out to be a great piece of casting. We've rounded up seven of the best.
1. Starbuck, Battlestar Galactica
Doctor Who isn't the only sci-fi show that has angered fans by gender-swapping a role. When Ronald D Moore decided to reboot Battlestar Galactica, he chose to cast Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck, the ace pilot played by Dirk Benedict in the original series.
"Making Starbuck a woman was a way of avoiding what I felt would be 'rogue pilot with a heart of gold' cliché," he explained.
And what a move it proved to be. Sackhoff's Starbuck became a firm fan favourite and a crucial part of what made the new version of Battlestar Galactica such a success, adding extra depth and important themes that updated the show for a modern audience. Dirk who?
2. Dr Joan Watson, Elementary
With something as iconic as Sherlock Holmes, you have to do something big to make it different from all the others out there. CBS chose to cast Lucy Liu as Dr Joan Watson in Elementary, instantly adding a different dynamic to any other Sherlock adaptation, and with the show about to air its sixth season, it's definitely proven to be a good decision.
Sherlock's nemesis Moriarty also changed in Elementary, with Game of Thrones' Natalie Dormer playing Jamie Moriarty, who also ticks off another classic character as she is initially known to Sherlock as Irene Adler. Talking of gender-swapped Sherlock, HBO Asia and Hulu Japan are currently working on Miss Sherlock, which is set to air this year.
3. Amanda Clarke, Revenge
ABC's gloriously OTT teen drama Revenge saw Emily VanCamp play Amanda Clarke, who returns to the Hamptons – after a short stint in prison – under a new name as the wealthy Emily Thorne, to get revenge on the people she believes are responsible for the death of her father.
If that sounds familiar, it's because the show was loosely based on Alexandre Dumas' classic novel The Count of Monte Cristo. Sure, that didn't have Edmond Dantès tick off revenge targets with a red marker, and his scheme was about his false imprisonment rather than the death of his father, but the similarities are close enough to call this a gender-swap.
4. Jeri Hogarth, Jessica Jones
In the comics, Jeryn Hogarth is a lawyer who works with Iron Fist's father Wendell Rand and helps out the Heroes for Hire with any legal issues. When it came to casting Jessica Jones, Jeryn became Jeri after Carrie-Anne Moss came on board, adding another layered character to Marvel's best show on Netflix.
Of course, the gender-swapped Jeryn isn't the only notable thing about Jeri Hogarth.
"I think that was sort of an after-thought that didn't really influence me at all, the fact that the name was a male name," Moss explained to MTV News. "I think more interesting to me is that I'm playing the first lesbian character in Marvel."
5. Bug-Eyed Bandit, The Flash
In the DC comics the Bug-Eyed Bandit is Bertram Larvan, but became Brie Larvan in The Flash, played by The Walking Dead's Emily Kinney. "They're using the Bug-Eyed Bandit for inspiration but we're kind of creating a new character," Kinney explained to IGN before her debut.
The character remained true to its comic book origin as a villain of the Atom (played by Brandon Routh in the Arrowverse), and Kinney also appeared in Arrow season four. The Bug-Eyed Bandit could still return for further episodes, since the character is alive but comatose.
6. Shadow King, Legion
Arguably this is stretching it a little bit, but in the comics the Shadow King is Amahl Farouk, one of the most powerful mutants ever. When it comes to Noah Hawley's Legion, the Shadow King – or at least one version of him – is played by Aubrey Plaza in the guise of David's friend Lenny.
Plaza also revealed that her role was originally written for a middle-aged man in the pilot script, and while we will see Homeland's Navid Negahban as Farouk in season two, Plaza is likely to still be around given the plaudits she earned for her performance as Lenny. Not bad for a character who died in the first episode.
7. Angela Burr, The Night Manager
At the end of the day, if you can cast Olivia Colman in your show, you really should cast her in your show. The adaptation of John Le Carre's novel The Night Manager managed this by gender-swapping Secret Intelligence Service agent Leonard Burr as Angela Burr, who recruits Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) to take down Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie).
"Lots of spies are women. They're really good at it. So you need to represent the people who are watching. Also, this is in the UK, where 51 percent of the population are women. So you can't have every programme with all the leads men," explained Colman to The Hollywood Reporter.
And you can't argue with that.
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