There are many things wrong with the BBC’s TV show “Sherlock.”
People have been blinded by its lead actors and cinematography for too long. Underneath the admittedly stunning scenery and strong start, Sherlock is sexist and homophobic.
Steven Moffat, the lead writer, has a history of writing two-dimensional female characters created for the sole purpose of fawning over the male protagonist.
The way Irene Adler was dealt with in season two’s episode, “A Scandal in Belgravia,” was horrendous. Irene Adler was known as “the woman,” the one who outsmarted Sherlock Holmes and the one woman Sherlock Holmes developed feelings for.
In “Sherlock,” Irene does not outsmart Sherlock with wit, but with shock value. Moffat writes her as a lesbian, yet she falls for Sherlock Holmes—another case of Steven Moffat writing women who only fall for the male protagonist. In the end Irene loses because of her “girly emotions” and must be rescued by Sherlock Holmes.
Another huge issue with “Sherlock” is the queer-baiting and homophobia.
“Queer-baiting” is a tactic used by writers to appeal to the LGBT community by adding homoerotic sexual tension between two characters who are never going to get together.
Sherlock and John’s relationship is often described as a “bromance” by most Sherlock Holmes fans. They have an epic friendship and it should stay that way. The queer-baiting comes into play when they have other characters within the show mistake Sherlock and John for a couple, when they imply their relationship could be deeper before swiftly playing it off as a joke.
The relationship adds to the homophobic undertones of the series. John’s quick, “I’m not gay!” after someone so much as looks at him and Sherlock the wrong way and Irene Adler in general emphasize how homophobic Sherlock is, no matter how unintentional.
“Sherlock” is defined by its short seasons, each consisting of three 90-minute episodes. This is also a downfall. With only three episodes a season, every single episode must count and be important.
Sherlock’s third season might as well be subtitled “four and a half hours of filler.” There were no cases that stood out and it seemed more like a long lead up for season four.
Every twist was predictable and there was nothing extremely noteworthy. Season three was also the biggest offender in “queer-baiting” despite John’s marriage and Mary’s sexist portrayal.
All throughout season three, John and Sherlock’s characters seemed terribly out of character without any true reason. Spoilers for season three to follow. Skip the next three paragraphs to avoid them:
Mary ends up being a villain, an assassin of some kind, though we are not told anything about it. This “twist” could have been seen coming from a mile away. With the way Steven Moffat writes female characters, he could not possibly write an interesting or “strong” female character without turning her into a monster.
She is also pregnant with John’s child. Now that she’s going to be a mother, she could not possibly be evil any longer. Her past is pointless and disregarded without even taking a deeper look into it. Even after she shoots Sherlock, John does not bat an eye.
Despite the fact that last season John was begging Sherlock to come back from the dead, it suddenly does not matter that this woman nearly killed his best friend and that she has been lying to him from the get-go, because she’s pregnant with his child.
“Sherlock’s” portrayal of Sherlock Holmes is another problem with the series. Everything in “Sherlock” revolves around Sherlock. The supporting cast exists merely to react to whatever Sherlock is saying or doing. If there is character development within the supporting cast, it is forgotten or disregarded within episodes.
“Sherlock” treats the supporting cast extremely poorly, Watson included. He is insulting, rude and oftentimes manipulative, but is never called out on it. After a token apology, it is forgotten, or after Sherlock solves a crime, his manipulative behavior is perfectly fine. He has no repercussions for his actions and it gets old and uninteresting.
All in all, there is nothing wrong with enjoying “Sherlock.” It can be an entertaining television show. However, it is important to recognize the many problems and issues it has.
This show cannot be put upon this untouchable pedestal of perfection. “Sherlock” is far from flawless and season three really enumerated all the flaws it had always contained.