You have two characters. One has a brilliant, once in a lifetime kind of mind, but is introverted and unconventional, bordering on rude. The other is more personable, slightly romantic, caring but with a tendency to be a bit solitary. Note that none of these personality traits are specific to one gender, or one type of sexuality. Now, these two characters solve crime. That is Sherlock Holmes in the tinniest nutshell I can cram it into. Elements such as gender and sexuality are not even peripherally relevant to the narrative and don’t become relevant at all until we take into consideration the social context that the narrative exists in. Playing around with such elements might deviate from very strict canon, but it does bring some fresh variations to the tired world of Holmes adaptation. All good, right?
Yeah, no, a lot of people seem to be pissed that CBS made Watson a woman because this eliminates the element of homo-eroticism that exists in other adaptations, even the source material. A sad day for progressive Holmesians, apparently.
I agree that we need more gay on television. Gay characters need to exist outside of comedy shows, and two strong lead characters being gay would make me happier than you would believe. But I wasn’t getting that from any other Sherlock Holmes adaptation, so I’m not missing it in Elementary. It’s just in Elementary I don’t have the option to write Holmes/Watson slash in my head, like I have done with all the other adaptations.
Is that the problem people are having here?
I have a hard time convincing myself that homoerotic subtext is somehow inherently progressive. The writers of the BBC’s Sherlock series occasionally throw these slashy moments to their audience and so many fans hold them up going “did you see the gay?” Well…no, I didn’t, not really. I saw subtext again, just intended subtext rather than my interpretation. Then I saw the writers pull away and crack the “lol, no homo” joke.
The problem is that, those of us who have spent so long seeing homoerotic subtext in things seem to have forgotten that homo-eroticism can also be text. And in this day and age, when we should be far less cagey about the subject of gayness, we need more homoerotic text. I would love to see a gay Holmes and Watson, but I need us all to be clear that, putting our own fannish interpretations aside, we have not been given that in Sherlock or any other adaptation that I can think of off the top of my head.
So I guess what I’m getting at is, in the fresh, reinvigorated world of a modern day Sherlock Holmes, why is mere homoerotic subtext more progressive than making a traditionally white male character a woman of colour?
And even if we did currently have an adaptation with an actual gay Holmes and Watson, would making another adaptation with Watson being played by a woman of colour be such a travesty? They are neither one more canonical. Such logic would just lead us to the oppression Olympics. Strong LGBT characters and strong characters of colour are under-represented in the media and while Elementary’s Watson being a gay woman of colour would present us with a glorious hat trick of representation, at least Elementary is giving us something.
If homoerotic subtext is your thing, and you really can’t stand to see Holmes and Watson without it, then of course, feel free to skip Elementary. You can even accuse me of being homophobic if it makes you feel better. I’m just gonna love my Asian-American lady Watson and wait patiently for that bona fide gay Holmes and Watson.
okay guys I reaaaallllllyyy like Elementary.
i’m just basking in the feeling of seeing Sherlock be respectful to a woman, other than Irene Adler (in BBC Sherlock he isn’t even respectful to her most of the time) and not shaming her for her sexuality, looks etc.
it’s kind of wonderful.
i am looking forward to “elementary” but mostly i am looking forward to seeing what a fandom built largely upon spite will be like
some interesting fanfiction i’ll tell you what: “and then sherlock placed his lips upon joan’s, who was a woman and also lucy liu. and they kissed. with tongues. neither of them were benedict cumberbatch at all.”