I’m sorry it took me so long to respond to this, but it’s an interesting and worthwhile question so I wanted to stew on it for a bit to give it an interesting, worthwhile answer.
first of all, I shall link you to this ask I got a few months ago, and this thread too, because they both provide context for my answer (and also past me explains things better than current me could i think)
I think the best way I can boil down my feelings is to say yes, I agree with you in theory, but we’re coming at it from two different perspectives—and I’ll always be a bit wary of saying something like that, because while books belong to their readers etc etc, while I can read Clara that way, I seriously doubt that was intended.
Because when we talk about Clara, we’re really talking about several things at once. We’re talking about 1) Clara on the page, the way she’s written into scripts and what her actions and dialogue say about her, 2) Clara on screen, as interpreted by Jenna, 3) Clara in micro context, weighed against other Moffat companions like Amy and River, 4) Clara in macro context, weighed against all companions, including RTD and Classic, 5) Clara in intimate context, measured by her relationship with the Doctor, 6) Clara in fandom, as interpreted by us (really mostly me, for this) and
7) Clara and her echoes, weighed against herself.
that’s… a lot.
Obviously, all but the last can be used on any companion or character. But with Clara it gets tricky, because we get so many mixed messages. Jenna was hired because she can talk faster than Matt, and their His Girl Friday pitter patter is the new beat of the show. Clara is great because unlike all those ~other companions, she gives the Doctor lip. Clara totes has a crush on the Doctor. Clara could never have a crush on the Doctor. The Doctor totes loves Clara. The Doctor doesn’t know how to love anyone. Clara is an Impossible girl. Clara’s just herself. Clara’s met all the Doctors before so regeneration will be no big for her. Clara doesn’t recognize other Doctors on sight.
and on and on and on blah blah baa woof
do I think that Clara is in many ways a sendup to what’s come before her in terms of storyline accessibility and agency? yes.
do i think that was, like, on purpose?
i truly struggle to think that steven moffat has the capacity to think in terms of metatextual thematics, considering his reasoning behind retconning the end of the goddamn time war
because like, no matter what the truth about Clara actually IS, she can’t escape the way she’s PRESENTED, and that’s as the Impossible Girl. she’ll never not be. and considering the fact that a) we never got to see her save the Doctor all those times, we just heard about it and b) much like with Centurian Rory, she doesn’t seem to remember much of what she’s done and is utterly unaffected by it, we can’t really frame it in terms of character development. it’s just a plot point. a thing that happened.
i’ve always loved the Watsonian Clara, Clara-in-story, because as you’ve already said, she lives on her own terms. She refuses to be treated like a ghost, and she shapes her own destiny, and she cares, desperately, all of the time. She doesn’t walk away.
but then there’s the other Clara. Doylist Clara. Clara-as-written-on-show. And she’s the one who was forced into my NEMESIS SHORT, the horrifying “She Said, He Said” in which they’re both all SHE’S LIKE LITERALLY PERFECT FOR ME Y’ALL ISN’T THAT GR9 HA HA HA IT’S NOT A MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL IF WE SAY IT, RIGHT?
it’s increasingly difficult for me to love Clara as much as I do, on the terms you’ve laid out, because those terms exist on shakier and shakier ground. we know Clara loves kids, so why have the Maitland children been written off the show? Clara losing her mum basically made her the woman she is today, so WHY ISN’T THERE MORE SILVERFOX DAVE IN MY EYEBALLS? why isn’t her world populated?
i didn’t think this as much pre-50th, but like… she should have died. she should have died, jumping into his timestream, and we don’t know how she got out and it doesn’t matter because nothing matters ever because everybody lives, Rose.
Clara makes sense in theory. she’s consistent on paper, governess to nanny to teacher. it flows. but she travels by bubble, glinda-like, from point to point, and never touches the ground. we could define rose and martha and donna by their families, particularly their mothers. amy, for better or worse, could be defined by rory.
Clara is defined by absences and negative spaces, and I love her to death but I’m sick of it.
That probably doesn’t answer your question, but the longer I type the madder I get so I’ve got to stop myself now.
i developed a self-depreciating sense of humor as a method of coping with my insecurities and social anxiety because it’s a lot easier to deal with people laughing at you when you’ve already beaten them to the punch by laughing at yourself
everything will be explained later
i’m reblogging this because the sherlock fandom is terrifying and I’m scared that if I don’t reblog this one day I’m just going to be killed in my sleep when they rid the world of all non-believers or something and that’s what they meant by “everything will be explained later”