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I really loved Sherlock S1. Smart, attractive dudes in master/apprentice (or hero/sidekick) friendship, acknowledged by the fictional characters themselves to have slashy elements? What was not to love.

S2 I loved less so. S3 I loved least of all -- I actively hated aspects of S3. Now here we are with S4.

To understand my growing disappointment with Sherlock, and the way it has increased with each new season, I must state one major caveat up front. I'm originally a fan of the Conan Doyle source materials -- the Sherlock Holmes short stories. I read them first as a kid, again as a teen, again as an adult (in my 20s/30s/40s).

Which means I am a fan of the original, canonical Holmes and Watson and their canonical dynamic.

After S3, I was troubled by the show and not sure I would come back for S4. This was for two reasons:

1) Characterization (or character assassination) -- and the emotional manipulation of the audience that was an essential part of the characterization.

As the seasons progressed, I felt the execution of the original premise (Victorian London brilliant supersleuth dropped into the 21st century) deteriorated and got off-track.

The original premise -- Conan Doyle's original canonical character is dropped into modern day, with all of his brilliant-loner/drug addict characteristics intact -- was exciting to me. Which meant I was excited about not only Sherlock, but also Elementary.

I never subscribed to the Elementary vs. Sherlock thing; I watch both. I wanted to see BOTH modern versions of Sherlock (and I enjoyed RDJr's portrayal of canonical Holmes in Guy Ritchie's films), and I wanted to see BOTH versions of Watson. There are things I like about both portrayals of Holmes and Watson, just as there are things I dislike.

But as time has gone on, I've become disenchanted with both. However, I'll take my "meh"/yawn disenchantment with post-S2/S3 Elementary over my disgusted/pissed off disenchantment with BBC Sherlock's progression, any day.

One of the things I dislike is the way they've changed Sherlock Holmes on Sherlock. He became a really horrible character -- far more narcissistic, cruel, manipulative, and misanthropic than the canonical character. Basically, they made him an asshole, when he was originally just a socially clueless misanthrope.

And while high-functioning sociopath is one interpretation of his canonical personality, in the source material it was a means to an end. In Sherlock, they made it the END.

These changes seemed largely designed to create personal/emotional melodrama where there was supposed to be mystery, and to manipulate the emotions of viewers, perhaps catering to the huge slash fandom heart-eye-ing of the show before it even began.

Personally, I got a strong feeling the melodramatic writing was equally calculated emotional manipulation to increase ratings, and writers Mary-Sue-ing.

Yeah, the slash was automatically beefed up by the melodrama and character assassination. But if they'd just stuck with the canonical characters, partnership, and mystery-solving -- merely updating to the 21st century -- the slash would've inevitably been there. . . without all of the emotional audience manipulation. Slash fandom would've heart-eyed Sherlock anyway.

2) Blatant misogyny -- less a minor subset of the character's canonical misanthropy than a new feature of his new, 21st century asshole personality.

It's established that Sherlock is a high functioning sociopath from jump -- they could have just left it at that, with his abrupt, narcissistic, and misanthropic tendencies intact, and incidental misogyny a mere subset of his misanthropy. In many ways, the canonical Holmes seems relationship-avoidant in the same way that burned out cops don't make the best husbands/boyfriends: they routinely see the worst in people and in people's relationships and manipulations of each other.

But BBC Sherlock went much further and made the character of Holmes a real misogynist in ways the canonical character wasn't (other than being a product of his time and culture). His behavior with the major female characters was needlessly cruel, bordering on abusive, and was both intentionally destructive and . Other people have written extensively about this, so I won't go into it here. I agree with many their objections, and it is primarily a product of the ongoing character assassination of canonical Holmes.

When the writing was rightly called on its blatant misogyny, they subsequently retconned in order to redeem the character they had destroyed and amplified a canonical but very minor female character. But the way they did it was smarmily apologist and blatantly inauthentic.

What pissed me of most was NOT that Mary -- a minor, mostly "off-screen" character in the original stories -- becomes a featured BAMF and changed the dynamic from slashy to M/F/M (which I would dig in any other fandom, and have). (That was off-putting only as a subset of "wait, this is not a 21st century take on the characters/canon, it's re-writing them utterly" kind of way.)

What pissed me off most was that once they started down the fake-apologist road with Mary, they chose to execute it in even more insidiously and subtly misogynist ways.

They both put in a wedding episode and knocked her up.

Because apparently she can't just be a female BAMF. She has to also fulfill her social and biological destiny as a vagina owner.

After S3, I told myself I wasn't going to get excited about S4. And I wasn't. I was enjoying the company of 30+ years-of-friendship friends that night.

So I watched S4E1 later. . . actually on Tuesday night, on the PBS Video app on my Roku (so I could watch in HD).

What I watched only solidified my removing Sherlock from my TV viewing list/queue.

The fake-apologist retconned female BAMF character (who never existed in canon in the first place) naturally reached the logical conclusion one would expect from the emotionally manipulative narrative the writers had created to absolve themselves of their misogyny in earlier episodes.

(SPOILERS)

They killed her, of course.

So. Yeah. There is no need to watch the rest of S4.

Just my 2 cents. YMMV.

ETA: of course, the canonical Mary Morstan dies, too. However, she was never the focus of the stories, nor was Watson's married life. She was a minor character and the reason why, for a time, Watson isn't Holmes' room mate.

The way that the writers built her up and let her hijack the Holmes/Watson narrative -- all while knowing they would kill her off as she was in canon -- further highlights the cynical way they used Mary to absolve/excuse the misogyny they had created, and then killed her off when it was convenient. Really pretty revolting.

Cross-posted from DW

Comments

verushka70
Jan. 12th, 2017 07:54 pm (UTC)
Sorry for the delay in answering, I've been busy and I forget that my LJ comments are screened d/t spamming.

Note: I am a more than casual fan of the original stories, not a completist devotee. But I love them as literary "comfort food" and the giant upon whose shoulders all subsequent crime fiction/fictional detectives stand, from House, to Longmire and friend Henry Standing Bear, to Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomqvist.

Note: Conan Doyle began writing these stories in the late 1800s. Expect some matter-of-fact period-typical sexism, racism, and imperialism.

I'll give some personal favorites &/or noteworthy stories off the top of my head, with links. Most (but not all) of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories are available free (!) in the public domain from Project Gutenberg in HTML, epub, Kindle, and mobi formats. Some are available as audio books, e.g. A Study In Scarlet! View the list of public domain Sherlock Holmes stories (sorted by popularity rather than release date or order in which they were written).

A Study in Scarlet was the very first Sherlock Holmes story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, so that's a good starting place, as well as a classic -- in fact, I recommend the first four stories: A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and The Valley of Fear.

A Scandal In Bohemia introduced Irene Adler (it is the first story in the first compilation book The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Beware, though: her fate is tragic in Conan Doyle's canon.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is kind of a Victorian horror (and mystery) masterpiece, imo -- it's one of my favorites, really capturing the dread and suspense. It has also been portrayed in film and TV many times. I like The Valley of Fear a lot.

The Final Problem -- the last story in the compilation The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes -- involves Moriarty, though he is not nearly as important in the canon stories as he became in film and TV depictions. He's only actually in 2 stories out of the 50+, though he/his criminal empire gets mention in a few others..

Apparently, in 1927, Conan Doyle himself picked a list of what he considered his best. I can't argue with the author himself!

The many (over 50) stories were fortunately compiled into books (almost all available free now!), starting with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and continuing (in order of publication) with The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, His Last Bow, and The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (unavailable on Project Gutenberg, as it is part of the Conan Doyle estate).

If you need a list of the Sherlock Holmes stories, in the order in which they were written/published, Wikipedia has a helpful entry on the Canon of Sherlock Holmes, with a helpful list of the tables of contents of the five books into which the many stories were collected.

Happy reading!

P.S. I love your "people are dumb" icon, lol!
mosinging1986
Jan. 16th, 2017 06:13 am (UTC)
Thanks so much!
verushka70
Jan. 20th, 2017 04:28 am (UTC)
You're welcome!