On Loving Two Different Sherlocks, a guest post by Rachelia
I’m relatively new to the various Sherlock fandoms, having first watched series 1 – 3 of the BBC’s Sherlock around this time last year, and all of Elementary this fall. What I lack in history with these shows I like to think I make up in passion, haha!
From what I’ve garnered from browsing Tumblr tags and seeing various internet discussions is that there seems to be some kind of rule that you must choose between the BBC or Elementary version of Sherlock. There is some kind of feud between fans, often with BBC purists dismissing criticisms of the shows (particularly in regards to issues pertaining to gender and race), and insisting that is the far superior show and interpretation of Sherlock (example).
I don’t necessarily understand this either/or line that seems to have been drawn in the sand, as I have come to love both these modern TV adaptations of Sherlock. I’m going to talk a little about what keeps me coming back for more from these shows, and I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers along the way!
Cinematography & Setting
The city itself also sort of becomes a character of its own, as it lends so much to this interpretation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories. From the skyline with the London Eye in the opening credits to Sherlock and Watson called to Buckingham Palace there is no escaping that this is a BBC show through and through. My inner anglophile wholeheartedly approves, and I get immense homesickness for my study abroad days in the UK while watching the show!
Most obviously: 1) Sherlock is now living in New York, after fleeing London due to his addiction, and 2) the fact that Watson is a woman. These two simple changes give a lot of new life and material to the adaptation!
I also love how they changed the Moriarty character and storyline – I actually prefer it.
More diversity in gender and race
Further, on numerous occasions Joan has called Sherlock out on sexism, racism, and his lack of sensitivity in dealing with victims. Sherlock treats Joan with respect, and listens, making adjustments to his anti-social behaviour to accommodate their working relationship. Speaking of relationships, theirs’ is completely platonic… and I love it that way. Yes, grown men and women can “just” be friends!
While the show isn’t entirely unproblematic, it is refreshing to see a female Asian lead, a diverse cast of secondary (but important) characters, and a show that calls out it’s main male character on his attitudes and behaviours.
Finally, These two shows both have value in what they bring to the Sherlock fandom and canon. After all there is no ONE Sherlock – he has been imagined over 80 times! All in all, I can confidently say that there is space in my heart to love two modern versions of the same classic detective.
Find out more about Rachelia and visit her blog Bookish Comforts
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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