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Oh Really?

Steven Moffat Talks BBC Sherlock‘s “Female Perspective”


We had our own little open discussion thread the day after the Sherlock season three finale aired in the US, but I would like to formally invite all our readers to hash out their thoughts on Sherlock‘s most recent season here, too. Something tells me the subject of these quotes from Steven Moffat—the importance of the show’s “female perspective”—will inspire some strong opinions.

SPOILERS are behind the jump and in the comments. Also: I want to make completely clear that the article you’re about to read isn’t exactly favorable of Moffat. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t like to read negative opinions of him and writes comments like “Why does everyone on this site hate Moffat?! If you don’t like the show, don’t watch it!” (yes, there are a few), I invite you not to read further.

“One of the interesting things about Sherlock, as a show,” said Moffat in an interview with Collider, “is that we want to stick very close to the style and approach of the original stories, but the one big problem is that there are no women, and what women do turn up are not that great. They’re a bit boring. Not all of them, but most of them are not very interesting.” He goes on to single out Molly Hooper, who wasn’t in Arthur Conan Doyle‘s original stories at all, and landlady Mrs. Hudson, who “doesn’t really speak in the original.”

(I would like to take a moment to point out that another thing that’s changed since Victorian London is that it’s generally viewed as less acceptable now to, saaaaay, set a show in the very diverse city of London and give that show practically no diversity. Hell, even the bit players in Sherlock are overwhelmingly white. Just wanted to point that out, if Moffat’s going on about how progressive he’s made Sherlock. Moving on…)

“The thing that’s occurred to me recently,” continues (Grand) Moff (Tarkin):

“is that what is consistently true of all the women who meet Sherlock Holmes is that they see through him much faster. John [Watson] is still pretty much enthralled with the act. All the women he meets decode him so fast. Mrs. Hudson just thinks he’s a spoiled brat, who she quite likes. Irene [Adler] gets it totally. She can close him down with a smile, and she gets that. Molly, initially, was awestruck, but so quickly got what he is. So, bringing the female perspective onto Sherlock is brilliant, I think. It works so well. And Mary is such a good example of it.”

So the purpose of the “female perspective” on this show, the reason it’s so “brilliant,” is that it gives us an entirely new group of people to appreciate Sherlock’s magnificence in a different way than the men on the show do. Because of course everything on Sherlock is about how great and wonderful Sherlock is, how even though he’s a complete asshole who does horrible things and whom you would slap if you knew in real life. Everyone still loves him because they “get” what a magnificent special snowflake he is. Characters are not there to be themselves. They are there to be Sherlock Holmes’ fan club.

But hey, that’s the show. That’s why I didn’t watch the last two episodes of season three: After watching The Empty Hearse I’m going to need some time (a lot of time) to detox from the smugness. Perhaps the length of the whole hiatus, however long that ends up being. By the by, Amanda Abbington, who plays Mary Morstan, has confirmed that she will be on the other side of that hiatus: “I am coming back. We don’t know storylines yet. Well, we do know some things but aren’t allowed to say. What we do know is amazing.”

In the interview Moffat also had some things to say about Mary, John Watson’s wife-with-a-dark-past. “The reason you didn’t spot it is because you liked her,” he explains:

“We put the audience in the position of Sherlock Holmes.  All the evidence is absolutely under your nose.  It’s all there.  She’s far too calm under pressure.  No human being would be like that.  She immediately likes Sherlock Holmes, which is the sure sign of a maniac.  But all the audience is thinking is, “Well, thank god, she’s not a drag.  Thank god, she’s fun,” instead of thinking, “What sort of person is that?  That’s not a nurse.  She’s something other than a nurse.”  So, when she turns around and points a gun at Sherlock, it’s the two things you really want.  It’s a surprise, but you also think, “I should have seen that!  Of course!  She had to be!”

OK. Fine. Whatever. Moffat’s a genius, according to Moffat. Go off in the comments. Or don’t. I don’t even care anymore.

(via: Collider, Digital Spy)

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  • Stephen Sutherland

    I don’t think Moffat was saying that the female perspective is a new way to “appreciate Sherlock’s magnificence” at all, rather he was saying that the women on the show aren’t remotely impressed by his intellect and see him for what he is – a spoiled, entitled brat with the emotional maturity of a 14 year old. There are plenty of problems with Moffat’s stuff, but I don’t think this emphasises them. In fact, it closes some of them down.

  • social democrat

    I like Sherlock, and I’m not a maniac, so I didn’t see it coming, either. It was a pleasant surprise. In fact, all the women on Sherlock have been a pleasant surprise. Okay, maybe I am a maniac, too.

  • Charlie Cecil Riley

    Moffatt is a geek fan boy who has yet to understand that women are actually people, too, despite that he’s married to Sue Vertue, who has to know better. I find I enjoy this whole thing a whole universe more if I just ignore Moffatt when he talks. The cast and crew understand all this so much more than he probably ever will.

  • Haleigh Yonish

    The exasperated sigh heard ’round the world.

  • Haleigh Yonish

    But Molly and Irene are still in love with him, Mrs. Watson treats him like a sweet baby, etc. He might be saying these things, but they’re not really forming in the show.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Mrs. Hudson sees him as a brat, but she still thinks he’s the bee’s knees. Molly has come to recognize his flaws, but ditto. The only female character on the show I can think of who *isn’t* presented as thinking Sherlock is the best thing since sliced bread is Sally Donovan, and she’s demonized.

  • Cait Barrett

    Granted, I did like Mary a LOT. A huge part of the reasoning for that is that I was expecting her to get the short end of the stick considering she’s kind of played up as a wedge between Holmes and Watson in a lot of interpretations. She wasn’t that, she got a long with Sherlock. It was also somewhat expected for her to be written very one dimensionally and quite misogynistically. The fact that she wasn’t, in a Moffat run (and 1/3 the time written) show was shocking. I think a lot of that has to do with Mark Gatiss.

    Still, Moffat’s got a lot of nerve talking up the “female perspective” on Sherlock when Mary literally didn’t get to speak while Sherlock told John Mary’s life story and she didn’t get to speak.

  • Brian Wrestler

    The Genius Savant character isn’t really a new conceit. Like smart people who claim they never watch TV so they can avoid the drain of popular culture on their minds. Sherlock Holmes as a literary character was brusque, but seemed more like he had an intellectual capacity far more vast than he let on. BBC Sherlock has leapt into high functioning sociopath straight away, so dramatically we get the sympathetic moments where he shows some emotional connection.
    I think the “brilliant” aspect of the show, is that we tolerate a few episodes per season. I can’t wait until 2016 when the next one debuts!!!

  • Haleigh Yonish

    Thank you for mentioning Sally! I completely forgot about her since they yanked her out of season three.

  • Cait Barrett

    Absolutely. I feel so bad for Sally.

  • Cait Barrett

    Absolutely. I feel so bad for Sally.

  • Ben Gerondale

    Aren’t nurses kind of expected to be good under pressure? Moffat do you know what nurses do for a living?

  • Ben Gerondale

    Aren’t nurses kind of expected to be good under pressure? Moffat do you know what nurses do for a living?

  • http://colorofawkward.com Brittany King

    I love Sherlock, and while I’m not a “Moffat Fan”, I am a fan of his work with both this and Doctor Who. However, he does come across as insulting sometimes. Especially when you don’t consider him to have a humorous tone of voice or meaning. So many people feel offended so easily nowadays… everyone wants justice for themselves. Then people would turn on me for potentially giving Moffat an excuse. Anyways, my friends and I thought this season was rather predictable. Especially with Mary being more than she seemed – from the moment “Liar” was in her text cloud and her knowing what a skip code is without hesitation.

  • http://colorofawkward.com Brittany King

    I love Sherlock, and while I’m not a “Moffat Fan”, I am a fan of his work with both this and Doctor Who. However, he does come across as insulting sometimes. Especially when you don’t consider him to have a humorous tone of voice or meaning. So many people feel offended so easily nowadays… everyone wants justice for themselves. Then people would turn on me for potentially giving Moffat an excuse. Anyways, my friends and I thought this season was rather predictable. Especially with Mary being more than she seemed – from the moment “Liar” was in her text cloud and her knowing what a skip code is without hesitation.

  • Stephen Sutherland

    Mrs Hudson loves him like a son, I think. He has flaws, which she well recognises, but she’ll love him all the same. She certainly doesn’t worship him. I agree that I’d much prefer to see Molly free of her infatuation with him. She seems to have a better handle on him than anyone else, and recognises his flaws better than anyone else.

  • Stephen Sutherland

    Mrs Hudson loves him like a son, I think. He has flaws, which she well recognises, but she’ll love him all the same. She certainly doesn’t worship him. I agree that I’d much prefer to see Molly free of her infatuation with him. She seems to have a better handle on him than anyone else, and recognises his flaws better than anyone else.

  • Paolina

    Exactly what I was thinking! And wouldn’t she like Sherlock because she knows how important he is to John? I don’t think you have to be a maniac to like your fiancee/husband’s friend, even if he is a sociopath.

  • Stephen Sutherland

    I’m not sure we can say Irene is in love with him. She liked him and his intellect, was maybe physically attracted to him, and that’s pretty much where the episode left it. She had a fondness for him that compromised her mission. And she could manipulate him incredibly easily, through a thorough understanding of his flaws and ego.

  • Amy W

    Just want to pop in and reassure you that, if you’ve only seen the first ep of this season, that was in my opinion definitely the weakest episode. I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but the second ep was my favorite episode of the show EVER, and the third was a real thrill ride, if not flawless. So, you might have something to look forward to. ;)

    Then again, maybe not. To each their own.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    As others have pointed out, the issue is that while they supposedly “see through him,” they still adore him. Molly is still in love with him (apparently to the point of getting unengaged by the end of episode 3 (not surprising, given the guy she was engaged to was obviously as close to a physical clone as she could find, and I suspect she was the one who was dressing him – hell, it might even be that he broke it off with her after meeting Sherlock and realizing what she was doing). Mary likes him after only meeting him for perhaps an hour or two, during which time he was pretty much a complete ass to her fiancee – you know, the man she supposedly loves. Irene Adler, a self-proclaimed lesbian, falls in love with Sherlock so much so that it spells her downfall at the end of her episode. Mrs. Hudson often gets the brunt of his atrocious behavior, yet continues to adore him. Of the four, she’s the one whose attitude might make the most sense, since he obviously helped her out of a pretty sticky situation at some point.

    If Moffat wants us to buy that any of the other characters – be they male or female – see through him, they should be calling his ass on his bullshit. That’s what the show needs – someone to actually call Sherlock on his bullshit and not back down.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    Unfortunately, that’s because she goes over the edge with her feelings. Hers are no better than the women who adore him.

  • Haleigh Yonish

    “I am SHERlocked” ? That seems pretty weirdly in love to me!
    Not to mention Moffat’s switched the story so it’s Irene who is compromising herself instead of vice-versa. Irene’s quick “visit” to Sherlock in his mind is her completely naked and silent. For as much as she let him affect her, his memory of her is sooo much different. And there’s that scene at the end of her episode where he swoops in to fight off racist stereotypes and save her!
    The whole Irene story started off strong but turned back into, “Sherlock is always right, and everyone loves him OR ELSE.” It’s weird when a story written in 1850 is less offensive than a modern day BBC show.

  • Matthew McLaughlin

    Did anyone else think the “mind palace” stuff was over the top this season?

  • Haleigh Yonish

    YES, THE PAGE FLIPPING

  • Anonymous

    For two years she preserved his home without change. Recalling that he rented, she went without a significant amount of money for TWO YEARS. I honestly expected that handwaved away by saying his brother had paid her to leave it as-is, but they didn’t. She loved him so very much (his LANDLADY, no less), it was her own choice to financially shaft herself for two years rather than go through his things and let out his apartment. Handle on him or not, that’s a level of love that seems…a bit much coming from a landlady.

  • Leah Elzinga

    is it still “a bit much” coming from a friend?

  • Anonymous

    I have my problems with Moffat and the Sherlock series, but I think you jumped the gun a bit here. Mostly I feel you should see the development of Mary (and to a certain degree Mrs Hudson) in the two other episodes of series 3. Mary was a good addition and not quite as much a Mary Sue (as per original meaning) as I feared. Especially thanks to Abbington who is a really good actress.

    I wish he had just retired Molly or had let her move on with her life more decidedly. That was the big annoyance I had with series 3. That, and the weird way episode 3 dealt with the villain.

  • Leah Elzinga

    “I like Sherlock, and I’m not a maniac”. Thank you. Not all of the people that we love are without flaws. Not all are kind, or patient, or even respectful. Even shallow, or annoying, or patronizing people have friends that love them. I would say that it’s a matter of the sum being greater than the parts.

  • Stephen Sutherland

    And if their relationship was just landlady – client I’d totally agree, but as I said in the first sentence of my comment, I think she loves him like a son.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    Oh, I think we can both say she was in love with him, as well as obsessed with him – prior to her ever meeting him in person. I wonder if no one else noticed that Moriarty “gifted” her with photos of Sherlock dressed only in a sheet as at the very beginning of that episode.

  • Joanna

    What irked me about Mary was that her story was more or less the same as Irene’s. “Help me, Sherlock! Someone’s going to kill me for information about my super dark and dangerous past!”

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, she developed from being a real person to being a ridiculous caricature who mainly existed to illuminate the inner mental workings of the male characters and be A ‘Strong’ Woman Who Gets Put In Her Place.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    I like Sherlock as well, but if he were my friend, I’d be calling him on his bullshit, and I’d be telling him when his ass is showing. I certainly wouldn’t just shrug it off. At least John TRIES to do this.

  • social democrat

    But they have and they do. I won’t post quotes that might possibly be spoilers to some, but Mrs. Hudson, Molly, Irene, Janine, and most of all Mary, have all let him know — gently at times, not so gently at others — that they see him for what he is and like him anyway.

  • http://tyrannyofthepetticoat.wordpress.com/ Vera

    Recurring good guy Sherlock characters:
    John
    Sherlock
    Lestrade
    Anderson
    Mycroft
    Mary
    Molly
    Sally
    Mrs. Hudson
    That, my friends, is an actual gender balance. Not exactly a common thing on television these days. So you know what? Moffat, Gatiss, and Vertue do deserve praise for that.

  • Lisa Liscoumb

    That’s a good point, Rebecca. The women of Sherlock seem to be at the ends of the spectrum – either they think Sherlock is the bees’ knees (I’ve always loved that phrase!), or they hate him. There is no middle ground.

  • social democrat

    Yes he does, and we don’t often see it happen on the screen. Usually it’ll be a little throwaway line, nearly inaudible, like, “What did we say about showing off?”

  • Katy

    Their relationship isn’t just landlord/renter, it’s very close. Even though Sherlock can be really rude to her, it’s very clear that he cares about her. In season 2 when a CIA agent threatened and scared Mrs. Hudson, Sherlock threw the man out of a window, repeatedly.

  • Joanna

    England would fall!

  • Rebecca Pahle

    …are you joking?

    Because I explicitly said in the article that I stopped watching. Also, as we’ve said many times on the site before, you can (and should) watch something and still acknowledge its problematic elements.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think the characters are particularly bad, within the show itself. A few unfortunate moments, but overall likeable and well-written.

    But Moffat just needs to stop. Talking He’s got the worst case of foot-in-mouth disease I’ve ever seen. He’s so smug about writing what amounts to “women are annoying but they can see through our protagonist so we luv ‘em, bless.” That is not new and edgy, it’s just silly.

  • Richard Grant

    Slightly more than 1/3 written, he and Gatiss co-wrote the second episode with Steve Thompson, so maybe around 4/9th’s?
    I’m not sure if I would give Mark Gatiss to much credit for improving Moffat’s representations, because while his other work may not be as problematic as Steven Moffat’s it hasn’t really been a beacon for strong representations.
    One of the most controversial moments in the last season of Doctor Who, The Doctor forcing a kiss onto Jenny, was in a Mark Gatiss written episode. And while this was brought up, quite deservedly, by many as part of an uncomfortable trend in Steven Moffat’s era, the fact that Mark Gatiss was the person who actually wrote the episode should not be forgotten.

  • Anonymous

    I thought the first ep was weak, but ‘His Last Vow’ is what killed my affection for the show as a whole, so I wouldn’t say finishing out series 3 is any guarantee of overall Sherlock positivity.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Yeah. I just wish the show had someone in between. Someone who just GENUINELY DOES NOT LIKE Sherlock, someone who can be counted upon to say “Hey, I know you’re solving this case, but the way you’re behaving here is totally unacceptable.” Someone whose criticism the writers don’t make so *extreme*, as they do with Sally, that within the context of the show it’s rendered dismissable.

    Which isn’t this show. That’s one of the reasons I stopped watching. It’s just frustrating how little he’s called on his awful treatment of others.

  • Teamugs

    I hate Sherlock because the show is all about worshipping an obnoxious jerk but why are we singling about the women here? What about John Watson who simpers over Sherlock being the “best man he ever knew?”. SMH.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    That’s not what I’m talking about. What they do right now is say “Awww, you were just really mean right there (and you hurt my feelings/humiliated me/whatever), but that’s OK, because it’s you.” Instead of saying “You’re my friend, and this is me letting you know that what you just said/did is NOT OK, and you need to cut that shit out.” It’s just like people saying “boys will be boys” when they engage in unacceptable behavior. “Sherlock will be Sherlock.”

  • Haleigh Yonish

    The Molly slap-city really bothered me, too. Like, instead of her telling him that his behavior is completely unacceptable or cutting him off or whatever, she had to turn to physical blows to express her disappointment in someone who is supposed to be her friend? Especially because as quickly as it came, Molly’s back to googly eyes.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    Exactly – it’s usually half-mumbled, and that’s all that’s said. At least in the third episode, John raised his voice a little.

  • Teamugs

    Not to defend Gatiss as I’m no fan, but it was Matt Smith who actually decided to kiss Jenny (can’t remember the actresses’ name) while filming. It wasn’t in the script a all.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    They sort of ruined that by unfortunately not making her a very likable character, especially since they portrayed her there at the end as someone who was really only in the relationship herself for ulterior motives. *sigh*

  • Mina

    I don’t know, most of John’s girlfriends didn’t like him. In the end, Janine didn’t HATE him, but she didn’t like him either. That newspaper lady that was going to run Moriarty’s story about being an actor definitely didn’t like Sherlock (and who could blame her?). The scientist lady at Baskerville didn’t like him. I mean, there have definitely been ladies on the show who are not Sherlock fans.

  • Anonymous

    Also, as someone who loves John, I find Moff’s insistence that John’s just some dumbass enthralled by Sherlock’s “act” to be pretty infuriating as well. Isn’t the point that they’re supposed to be the most epic BFFs in history because they understand each other so well? Warts and all?

    Though I guess given this season’s sudden decision to dumb John down to the point that I’m not sure he can put on pants unassisted, I shouldn’t be all that surprised.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    I mostly agree. The first slap didn’t bother me too much (presumably because yes, he did have drugs in his system? It was never explicitly said, so I confess I’m still unsure as to whether he was clean or not), but the subsequent ones (was there one more, or two, I don’t remember right now) did. One slap and then telling him off would have been OK. Just telling him off would have been perfect.

  • Anonymous

    It’s his removal of any sort of consequences for any sort of behavior or tension or danger in his show’s that does it for me. I can’t understand how so much of the internet is always like OMG MOFFAT KILLS UR FAVES when he’s never managed to successfully kill ANYONE, basically, thanks to his endless love of take-backs, resets, timey wimey twists and blatant lies.

  • Joanna

    Not to mention Lestrade bending police procedures for him.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    Yeah, and what happens to them? Notice that they aren’t around anymore.

  • Teamugs

    Right, the entire premise of the show seems to be “Sherlock is a jerk but also great and we will do everything for him because he’s great. He’s great. Great, great, great.” It’s completely flawed from the get go and while the female characters are subject to it, they aren’t the ones pushing it exclusively. John Watson is like grand master pope of the church of Sherlock Greatness.

  • Joanna

    I think that was actually taken from Conan Doyle’s books.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    I’d like to see someone like this on the show, too, as well as someone who can be his friend but also tell him when he’s being an ass. John COULD be this, but we never see much of it onscreen.

  • Hawkes006

    Is it a different kind of pressure? I’m not a nurse, so my only experience is my sister in law, who can handle blood and gore like a pro, but test taking anxiety made her lose her mind in nursing school. I just don’t know if “medical emergency” pressure translates to “someone is about to be murdered” pressure, but again I could be wrong

  • Lady Viridis

    I never realized just how much all the characters in Sherlock are there to be cheerleaders until I started watching Elementary. Now that I have, I don’t know if I can bring myself to watch S3 of Sherlock. Especially after hearing some of the discussions/spoilers about it online. It sounds very much like Moffat and everyone else involved convinced themselves they’re geniuses who can do no wrong, and spend the episodes winking at the audience to make sure we notice how clever they are. :/ Not really what I want to watch.

  • Anonymous

    First of all: When you write “I invite you not to read further” you actually do exactly that! ;-) It’s reverse psychology!

    Second – just to note that – the original Holmes from ACD did actually treat women very friendly and was very kind to them. Nowadays where everyone likes in the footsteps of Dr. House like to show Holmes as a jerk, but actually it’s not wrong to call Holmes a Victorian Gentlemen in the best sense of the word.

    Third, concerning ethnicity: Certainly true for Doyle’s stories but as Holmes usually (not always) dealt with the two upper-class levels of British society you couldn’t expect much of that (same thing applies for almost any classical British detective character like Miss Marple or Lord Peter Wimsey). Nevertheless I do remember a black person having played a role in a Holmes short story, I think he was a boxer.

    Forth; it’s not really well-known but in the wake of the big success of the Holmes stories in the 1890s there were also a few female detectives. But as most of the male competitors to Holmes were forgotten, so them, too. But maybe it would be worth digging them out and see if one could maybe have them as a basis of a TV show, too.

    Or being really bold (as we haven’t had that yet) a female Sherlock Holmes? (After all, the name is quite gender-neutral and we already had a female Watson?)

  • Anonymous

    so the whole issue here is that Sherlock is an asshole and the people around him fail to acknowledge that?

  • Tasali

    Yeah she wasn’t a very likeable character. She was using him as much as he was using her.

    I had a bigger problem with his treatment of Watson in The Empty Hearse. I thought that was f***king criminal.

  • Anonymous

    I think the show has amply demonstrated that Sherlock is terrible and inconsiderate to the feelings of everyone around him and that he has his own way showing that he does care. Everyone puts up with it because of his intellect.

  • Hawkes006

    The end of the season sets up a character with the opportunity to be this type of person for the show based on her reaction to Sherlock’s treatment of her. But it ends a bit ambiguously with her maybe still liking Sherlock, I had trouble reading the scene. So, maybe hope?

  • Jason Rye

    She was Charles Augustus Magnussen’s P.A. so she had to know full well what her boss does and be complicit with the blackmailing of others. She got off rather lucky out of the whole deal, but otherwise there was no real reason to like her given.

  • Iqeret

    The thing to remember, I think, is that Moffat is essentially a fanboy writing commercially-sanctioned fanfic; his core POV is that Sherlock is made of awesome, whatever else he might do to the character. So I don’t find it surprising that this is reflected in all his characters, male or female, canon or original; he’s projecting his personal views as a host of ‘fan club members.’

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    You mean Janine? I got the impression she was done and gone. She does say “we could have been friends” as she walks out the door.

  • vertdragain

    My husband and son got into the Doctor Who panel at this year’s San Diego Comic Con and the hubs sorta regretted it. Said it killed his joy in the show since Moffat was such a complete ass. It was in stark contrast to the other panels that day and how the panelists enthusiastically treated questions and the folks in the room. He and my son came out loving Supernatural so much more than before, and went on to take part in Misha Collins’ Gishwhes as a result too.

  • Mina

    Well, sure, but two things. 1) That only makes sense to me. If you actually don’t like someone and you have no work-related reason or something to keep being around them….you don’t. You stop spending time around that person. The only people who are going to continue to put up with Sherlock’s crap are people who like him at least a little. 2) There’s only three episodes per season. There’s only so many people who are going to repeatedly get large chunks of screen time.

    I mean, I agree with the overall premise that Sherlock is a brat and the other main characters are bizarrely accepting of it. I just don’t agree that all the ladies on the show have liked Sherlock.

  • Hawkes006

    I never assume someone is gone when Moffat is at the wheel. They aren’t as bad as comic books bringing people back from the dead, but this still gives me that itch in the back of my brain that we might be seeing Janine again. To be fair, I get that feeling whenever we see a character in more than one episode, but so far it’s been pretty spot on

  • Anonymous

    Far be it from me to absolve Moffat of his issues with women, but I think you’ve misinterpreted his comment. Note: “Molly, initially, was awestruck, but so quickly got what he is.” So “getting him” doesn’t mean adoring him; it means NO LONGER being “awestruck” and seeing the things that are wrong with him.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    My point was that they aren’t around to continue to shine that light. Logically, you’re correct in that if you don’t like someone, you don’t hang around with them. From a storytelling point of view, that’s why you create situations where the two characters MUST interact, so that the conflict can be seen.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    Considering she’s still pretty much gaga over him, I’d say Moffat is deluding himself.

  • Hawkes006

    I think I can only comment to your third point, in that I don’t think being faithful to Doyle’s version should be an argument. We’ve established in many ways that this, while inspired by Doyle’s stories and faithful in many ways, deviates in many MANY others. So changing the race of any character, being Mrs Hudson or Watson or Lestrade or anyone, would not be out of place

  • Jennifer

    I agree with you. I started watching Elementary because I was a fan of Sherlock but to my surprise found it to be the superior show. While Sherlock is cinematically prettier and more stylish the character growth and depth really drew me in to Elementary and I enjoy it more. I find myself with little interest in continuing with Sherlock at this point.

  • Anonymous

    Molly’s feelings toward Sherlock are obviously complex. She did slap the everloving Christ out of him when he disappointed her, and while she probably still feels attracted to him, she’s clearly not mooning over him anymore.
    Mary’s immediate admiration for Sherlock makes complete and total sense now that we know what we know about her. It’s extremely likely that she faked her own death, after all; when she meets Sherlock, she immediately realizes that he’s done a spectacular job faking HIS death. Professional admiration and all that.
    I do agree that Irene’s affection for him is seriously problematic. That’s easily my least favorite episode for many reasons.

  • Anonymous

    *shrug* That’s not what I see. But that’s the nature of fiction.

  • Anonymous

    Every media property based on Conan Doyle’s work is fanfic.

  • Hawkes006

    I think the issue is here that Sherlock has surrounded himself with people who accept him, and the critical audience is expecting him to surround himself with people who don’t. Sherlock is very dismissive of most people, and it’s only those he’s truly close with that make up his inner circle. It can be seen that anyone who would be less accepting of his abuse would not be close with Sherlock, and as such would have no place in his little trust circle. In the greater community there maybe lots of people who hate Sherlock’s behavior, but they would not be the same people who help Sherlock on his cases and would not be the ones on this show. Since this is a show about Sherlock, we are bound to be limited to the people directly in his life’s orbit, his friends.

    It may frustrate the audience who hates the Sherlock character, but I don’t find it all that strange that his inner circle is made up of complimentary (if masochistic) personalities as opposed conflicting personalities.

  • http://www.commonplacebook.com electrasteph

    Not quite. The issue is that Moffat doesn’t write well-rounded female characters who exhibit critical thinking skills.

  • JosieLou

    “Because of course everything on Sherlock is about how great and wonderful Sherlock is [...] even though he’s a complete asshole…”

    There a number of reasons I now actively dislike the show, but this pretty much sums up it up. It will never not disturb be how quickly shows about essentially nasty people become hugely successful as long as that person is a white man and a “genius.” The same could also be said about a portion of the Sherlock fandom and their attitudes when it comes to criticizing Moffat. The lengths some people will go to excuse the problematic aspects of his work as well as the terrible things he’s said, because they think he’s an AMAZING writer, is just sad.

  • http://www.commonplacebook.com electrasteph

    Yep – that was my irritation at House and why I stopped watching that show in the middle seasons. Regardless of how brilliant you are, if you’re an ass, you should be fired. No one should have to put up with bullshit at their job.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t watch Dr. Who so I can’t quite comment on that but fawning over Sherlock and being in awe of him is hardly restricted to the females if that is a criticism people want to fall back on.

  • Iqeret

    Yes. But someone who was not, or was less of, a fanboy would bring a different perspective to the work and be more likely to maintain characters who did not bow to Sherlock’s greatness.

  • Anonymous

    The show wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t about an asshole. And people can let a lot of things go in a work of fiction and realize that it is implausible.

  • Anonymous

    What irks me about this summarisation of the character is that it treats Mary worse than the show or its narrative ever did. Irene too, for that matter. Hardly the best-written female characters on TV but they both amount to a hell of a lot mroe than “Help me, Sherlock! Someone’s going to kill me for information about my super dark and dangerous past!” I’d argue Mary, as a character, was written with more respect (though that has nothing to do with Irene’s lack of clothing, for the record), but both have a lot more going for them than those moments where they’re damsels, and ignoring everything BUT those moments renders any critical analysis of their characters utterly pointless.

  • W_hedgie

    I agree with you. In addition, when given a show that’s taken an established fictional character where everyone has their own expectations of who that character should *be* — then I think there’s fair room for criticism of how the character is approached. And with a show like Sherlock, run by an individual like Moffat, who for better or worse, has a reputation of really screwing up when it comes to discussing most things dealing with women — I see where folks have issues, and I totally agree with that as well.

    Personally, I’ve always loved Sherlock Holmes in the ACD canon, but also thought he was a complete and total jerk towards women AND everyone else who wasn’t Watson. So the show’s emphasis on that doesn’t surprise me, even when moved to modern day London…after all, even in the canon, Watson himself mentions that he has to play to Sherlock’s vanity.

    And while I actually loved S3, even with the flaws, it’s partly because I don’t think this season *was* meant to stand alone. To me, it’s pretty clear it’s supposed to carry over to at least the first show of S4 — essentially giving us a cliffhanger of sorts, but one that’s been woven through all three episodes. I loved S3 because honestly, it gave the actors some interesting stuff to “act” out of character than what they’ve been given so far in S1 & S2, and I just like watching Cumberbatch and Freeman work together.

    Perhaps it’s just harder to see Sherlock being a “jerk” onscreen than on a printed page? Or to realize that a character you admired on the page no longer has the benefit of the doubt when appearing onscreen?

  • JosieLou

    I agree 100%. When it comes to character development Elementary is by far the superior show, and it really sucks that a lot of people refuse to give it a chance because “OMG they made Watson a girl!” Thing is, Joan is like x10 better than John because she’s, y’know, an actual character instead of glorified a fanboy.

  • Michael McNinch

    At the risk of being a jerk (and I mean that sincerely – I hate saying rude things)… Steven Moffat seems like a self-obsessed sexist (and if some of the other stuff I read are true racist and perhaps a bit homophobic) narcissists who thinks everything he has touched it deep, meaningful, and awesome.

    It’s not that he’s BAD at his job – no – he’s really quite decent at it. It’s that he comes off as a terrible human being if we’re to believe his interviews and his stuff is often filled to the brim with unfortunate implications.

  • http://www.commonplacebook.com electrasteph

    Right, it wouldn’t be the same show. It would be a better show, in my opinion. I’ve read every single original Holmes story. The original Holmes could be cold and analytical, but he wasn’t a giant dick head and he did indeed display a lot of empathy with the people who came to him for help.

  • ampersands

    Sure, but it’s missing the forest for the trees. It’s Moffat’s whole things here–we’ll have female characters, and we’ll have them see through Sherlock faster than anyone else…but at the same time, every single woman’s story informs Sherlock’s story more than anything else. They’re window-dressing, not the view. Mary didn’t even get to use her own words within her marriage!

  • ampersands

    Well…Mary has other problems. She’s essentially a femme fatale–River Song redux. And she gets less agency than the actual female victim in the Sign of Four–Sherlock takes her choices away from her, even her words in talking with her own husband. Abbington acted incredibly well for what was essentially a male fantasy character, rather than a flesh and blood woman.

  • E.V. Emmons

    Actually I think the author’s dislike of Moffat and programme are showing more than anything they were trying to prove or disprove about Sherlock. If anything the women are intelligent and likeable, something I find lacking in a lot of American dramas. The females in many US dramas are ‘threatening’ to female viewers I find, they’re not the sort of people you trust or want to become friends with. All of the women on Sherlock are people you could see yourself getting along with, even Mary, who wasn’t really as much of a surprise as Moffat might have thought. I’m sure that if I suspected her of a dark past, others did too.

  • Hawkes006

    I think partly it also has to do with who the audience identifies with. No one identifies with Sherlock, but most people identify in some way with the normal people around him. So they put themselves into these characters, and it upsets them when the characters are abused in some way. And then they demand that the characters react as they would, cite it as being realistic.

    But the disconnect comes from the difference between “identifying” with a character and straight up being the character. Having similarities to a person/character does not mean they will react the same way as someone else 100% of the time, despite the fact that it may cause the audience frustration. And the people who would have these adverse reactions to being abused by Sherlock are the same kind of people who would be dismissed by and cut off from Sherlock. The actions of the characters may not be what the audience would do in their shoes, but so far the characters themselves haven’t acted out of character.

  • Paolina

    He makes it sound like those in the nursing profession are all mild-mannered. He presents her behavior as a sure indicator that she really is a maniac, because of course no one but a maniac can handle pressure and actually like Sherlock.

    She has been involved with John for quite some time before Sherlock shows up. No doubt she has heard all the stories of their cases. When Sherlock pops back into Johns life, wouldn’t she expect that some crazy situations were about to go down? A “normal” non maniac person would have had time to mentally prepare for Sherlock-related shenanigans.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    I’m not quite sure what to think about Molly at this point, given that we know she’s no longer engaged – and, well, let’s be honest, her fiancee was a physical Sherlock clone. Again, stuff that would have been nice to have gotten a little more info on, but we didn’t.

  • E.V. Emmons

    Somehow, I don’t think money is an issue with our dear Mrs. Hudson. I’m pretty sure she has some squirrelled away from her ‘wife of a drug lord king pin’ days. :)

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    Could be, which actually worries me. The show is, in my opinion, starting to have too big of a cast. If Janine comes back, plus Sherlock’s little protege, that’s too more people in an already-bulging cast.

  • Anonymous

    The vibe I got during “The Empty Hearse” is that she’s still attracted to him, but sees him a little more clearly and is prepared to interact with him on more equal footing. I agree that it’s pretty vague, though, which is a bummer because so many things about Molly intrigue me.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    Oh…. oh gods. This means Sherlock is Moffat’s Gary Stu, doesn’t it?

  • Anonymous

    I disagree that it would a better show. I think that the viewers are smart enough to realize that they wouldn’t give the time of day to people like Holmes or Sherlock if they were real. But their sociopathy is what makes there stories attractive.
    I have read the unabridged versions of Holmes stories as well and I think Moffat’s interpretation works for how he wants to depict him.

  • Julianna Condor

    Speaking as the daughter of an ER nurse, they are tremendously good under pressure — they have to be. If they lose their cool, people lose their lives. Now not all nurses are ER nurses, but pressure is where they live. They might lose their cool after things have calmed down, but I’ve seen my mom calmly bandaging a spurting wound while a car caught fire nearby and she didn’t even sweat.

    TL;DR Moffat’s a self-indulgent egotistical prat.

  • Julianna Condor

    Speaking as the daughter of an ER nurse, they are tremendously good under pressure — they have to be. If they lose their cool, people lose their lives. Now not all nurses are ER nurses, but pressure is where they live. They might lose their cool after things have calmed down, but I’ve seen my mom calmly bandaging a spurting wound while a car caught fire nearby and she didn’t even sweat.

    TL;DR Moffat’s a self-indulgent egotistical prat.

  • Marion

    He so totally is.

  • Marion

    He so totally is.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW

  • Penny Marie Sautereau

    Is there even any point?

  • Penny Marie Sautereau

    Who all in the end need Sherlock to save them.

  • Hawkes006

    He does seem kind of disparaging of nurses, which I disagree with. But I don’t think any “normal” person could properly prepare themselves for the gamut of situations that come from Sherlock in the time she had. Within days of Sherlock being around her fiance is kidnapped and about to die, which she handles by cracking a code and then going off to save him, that’s a pretty quick change of pace from her daily life up to that point (at least for the past few months, not counting her mysterious past)

  • Hawkes006

    Oh god I forgot about him…yeah this is starting to get ridiculous

  • Anonymous

    RE: the slapping – I was all in favor of it by that point. I felt Molly really spoke for the audience when she did that. I, too, wanted to slap the hell out of him for the entire season.

  • Marion

    And since Mycroft is Gatisses…

  • Anonymous

    I *really* need to watch that show. I don’t care much for Lucy Liu (I know – criminal!), but so many people have mentioned ‘Elementary’ as having higher-quality stories and character development.

  • Teamugs

    Honestly though, fans just do this. Not just Sherlock and DW fans to Moffat. Remember when everyone tripped over themselves to defend Martin Freeman after he made a nasty rape joke? And Who fans defend the shit that RTD has said as well. Fans have a hard time separating enjoying X show/character despite the things that the person playing/producing/writing them has said. You can like the Hobbit and still think Freeman is a shitlord.

  • JosieLou

    Do it! I never would have described myself as a Lucy Liu fan either, but she’s amazing in it and her character’s awesome. She doesn’t just passively put up with Sherlock’s bullshit and her eye-rolls rival that of Liz Lemon. ;)

  • Marion

    Sherlock’s women are not the worst female characters I’ve seen on TV, because they are reasonably proactive, at least to some extend, and some of them are described as socially powerful. It’s really annoying that they take Sherlock’s crap so easily, but so does everyone in the show, starting with John who does not seem able to do more that mildly frown at his beloved fiend/mentor/hero. They even are numerous – I did not count but I think the show is on its way to parity : they achieve it better than a lot of other shows (and certainly better that they handle racial representation). It’s clearly not perfect, but I’ve seen worst from Moffat. However :

    Season 3 sucked, so, so hard.

    I mean, they jumped the shark big time, didn’t they ?

    In season 1, I watched a smart Wodunit staring a pair of lovable losers (socially if not professionally), and I really liked it. Season 2 had really good moments, I liked Irene (even if I should have been warned by that “even lesbians love him” thing), and even enjoyed the Hound of Baskerville episode. Ok, the plot was not very subtle, but the mood was interesting and I liked to see emotional trauma on a man for a change.
    But that feeling is long gone. I am sick of the endless series of twist : that’s not clever anymore, that’s just needlessly complicated. I am sick of the way everybody looooves Sherlock when he clearly is a brat, to the point when Moffat’s self insert is rubbed all over your face again and again. I mean that wedding episode, gosh ! Talking of brats, I am also really tired Mycroft, who is conveniently the most powerful person in Britain and still needs to knell in front of his baby brother.

  • BriaRose

    There are two reasons I couldn’t bring myself to watch past the first episode of Elementary.

    1) I’m asexual. We don’t often get represented in media. For over a hundred years, Sherlock Holmes has been widely interpreted as one of the most beloved and influential asexual characters in all of fiction. So how did Elementary introduce Sherlock Holmes? By having a hooker leaving his apartment. To me, they may as well have put up a huge sign saying, “THIS IS AMERICAN TV! EVERYONE HAS SEX ALWAYS! F— THE ASEXUALS (LITERALLY)!”

    2) When they made Watson female, they “coincidentally” removed the “Army doctor” past that had been an intrinsic part of the character in the original stories, and in every other adaptation ever. So… What, women aren’t Army doctors now? Women don’t come home scarred from combat? I had no problem with them making Watson female–I was all for it, in fact–but to me, removing that part of the character’s past was a slap in the face to all the real women with military experience.

    I’ve been hearing so many great things about the show ever since, but I just cannot get past my teeth-gritting anger over those two things. Would anyone who loves the show like to provide some reasons why I should try?

  • JosieLou

    I think “fans just do this” is a pretty bad excuse. I specifically said ‘some people’ because I don’t believe all fans do. Yes, it’s okay to like problematic things made by/starring people who say problematic things, we’re in agreement there, but you have to address these problems and call people out on their bullshit. And you definitely should NOT alienate other fans by harassing them or shrugging off their opinions by saying shit like “oh, you’re just too easily offended” when they DO address these problems.

  • Teamugs

    No I agree with that, but I just was bringing up that it’s not an exclusive phenomenon to the Sherlock fandom. I don’t mean that “they just do this” to excuse them, but to bring up the “I like X so I need to defend the creator/actor” happens because fans seem to struggle to separate the two and I think that’s why some problematic shit gets defended so much in fandom.

  • JosieLou

    Oh, I agree, it’s definitely not just a Moffat fandom thing. I never meant to suggest that it was. =) I think I just see it happen so much with Moffat because it’s not like an isolated incident with him, the man says a LOT of stupid things.

  • Teamugs

    I agree, though I think there’s also a lot of criticism of Moffat in comparison to most other people in media. Which is good though, as you said he says a lot of dumb shit, though there are a lot of other shitlordy people who I wish got more constant criticism when I just hear praise and defense. Martin Freeman being an example.

  • Silvermoonlight

    I agree with you on that you only have to watch Doctor Who to see his sexism and queer baiting in full swing along with the fact that he thinks a scene where the doctor man handles and kisses a woman who does not want to be touched and is married (to another woman) is some how funny and it gets even worse as when this woman slaps him the Doctor smirks likes it funny despite that he has just sexually assaulted her,..sadly this is the reason I can’t warm to Sherlock because sadly in I can see similar things happening further down the line and the truth is I love the Sherlock books and would find it hard to stomach. To me he is not a sexist or homophobic character he’s just complicated.

  • Teamugs

    Matt Smith was the one who decided to have the Doctor kiss Jenny, so while Moffat is bad, you need blame beloved Matt for that one.

  • Teamugs

    I don’t watch Elementary (procedurals are not my thing) but I never knew this and these are good points to consider amongst the praise I keep hearing.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    Don’t forget, though, that we find out later a lot of that simpering and being frightened may have been an act on Mrs. Hudson’s part – she had the presence of mind to grab and hide the phone the CIA were looking for. I agree with you that I think Sherlock cares about Mrs. Hudson and thus punished the CIA agent for injuring her – but I suspect he may have known she wasn’t quite as frightened as she appeared to be. After all, she did help run a drug cartel…

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    Don’t forget, though, that we find out later a lot of that simpering and being frightened may have been an act on Mrs. Hudson’s part – she had the presence of mind to grab and hide the phone the CIA were looking for. I agree with you that I think Sherlock cares about Mrs. Hudson and thus punished the CIA agent for injuring her – but I suspect he may have known she wasn’t quite as frightened as she appeared to be. After all, she did help run a drug cartel…

  • Loulou

    I just got Disqus only to comment on this. I had issues pointing out to
    my bf exactly what was hurting but I seriously couldn’t stand they way
    the female characters were treated.

    I was disappointed
    about how they flipped Mary, and if temporarily, made her evil. But most
    of all I was sad about how they treated Janine. Janine was brilliant,
    funny and down to earth. She got hurt. Instead of being emotionally
    upset and telling Sherlock to piss off, she was just vengeful. She painted
    herself out as “one of those women” in media disregarded as
    gold-digging, promiscuous and possibly lying. I don’t see her do something that ultimately hurts her character more than
    him. She was strangely calm when meeting Sherlock too, as if doing what
    she did (out of incredible hurt, i guess?) mended the hurt.

    TL;DR: Why are all the women on the show evil wimmenz (except Mrs Hudson).
    I mean jeez the only character I could relate too had to be forgiven and what not, while Sherlock struts around sayin “u mad?” :(

  • Loulou

    I just got Disqus only to comment on this. I had issues pointing out to
    my bf exactly what was hurting but I seriously couldn’t stand they way
    the female characters were treated.

    I was disappointed
    about how they flipped Mary, and if temporarily, made her evil. But most
    of all I was sad about how they treated Janine. Janine was brilliant,
    funny and down to earth. She got hurt. Instead of being emotionally
    upset and telling Sherlock to piss off, she was just vengeful. She painted
    herself out as “one of those women” in media disregarded as
    gold-digging, promiscuous and possibly lying. I don’t see her do something that ultimately hurts her character more than
    him. She was strangely calm when meeting Sherlock too, as if doing what
    she did (out of incredible hurt, i guess?) mended the hurt.

    TL;DR: Why are all the women on the show evil wimmenz (except Mrs Hudson).
    I mean jeez the only character I could relate too had to be forgiven and what not, while Sherlock struts around sayin “u mad?” :(

  • JosieLou

    The show definitely has its problematic aspects, but I certainly find it far less problematic than Sherlock. For example, your first point, are you aware that Steven Moffat has said Sherlock is definitely not asexual because there’d “be no fun in that.”?

    http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2012/jan/20/steven-moffat-sherlock-doctor-who

  • ampersands

    Well, the series doesn’t treat every detail of the stories as necessary for canon. And I think that’s a good thing. It leads to rich characterization–so instead of Watson being with Sherlock because of some missing thrill-seeking aspect of the character, this Watson is a surgeon turned sober companion who’s analytic, deductive mind is respected by Sherlock and who is as much his actual partner as anything else (also, I think that aspect of Joan–that she calls Sherlock out on at least some of his shit–is essential to the adaptation, and key to why I enjoy it).

    It’s a character-based series. And you go into the show wanting to know these characters, rather than the original versions, because these people are interesting and well-drawn in their own right.

  • BriaRose

    Oh, I’m sure it is less problematic than Sherlock, but that isn’t necessarily a good enough reason for me to watch it. :)

    At least thus far in the aired episodes of Sherlock (leaving out what Moffat says, because he loves to run his mouth) it’s ambiguous whether or not he’s asexual, but the option is left open. (He dated Janine all that time and never had sex with her?)

    But my comment was meant to be specifically about Elementary, not about the merits of it vs. Sherlock.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    I dunno – a woman whose fiancee is as close to a physical clone of Sherlock as possible? Who is dressing like Sherlock? (As I pointed out above, I can’t help but wonder if she didn’t start giving him clothes and essentially dressing him) Who we discover is actually no longer engaged to said fiancee by episode three – either because she realized she’s NOT, in fact, over Sherlock and broke it off. Or because her fiancee, upon meeting Sherlock, realized that she was trying to make him into Sherlock/that he was a substitute for Sherlock and broke up with her?

  • BriaRose

    Fair enough, and I’m glad you are able to enjoy these characters for who they are. But I think WHICH details get changed does matter, and when one of those details is the erasure of one of the very few asexual characters in all of media, it is problematic. I say this as an asexual person; I understand that it probably wouldn’t have the same sting to someone who isn’t.

    And Watson being former military didn’t have to mean she was thrill-seeking. She could have been a “surgeon turned sober companion whose analytic, deductive mind is respected by Sherlock” without removing the military background. Again, I have no problem with changing things–Watson being female is a pretty darn big change, and I was all in favor of it. But the decision to change things isn’t made in a vacuum, and some of the specific details that they chose to change truly do bother me.

  • JosieLou

    I understand. =) For me I can no longer read Sherlock as asexual, even disregarding that particular comment by Moffat, which sucks. Between the constant queer-baiting, Sherlock “turning” a woman who identified as gay, homosexuality as a punch-line and Moffat’s further comments that Sherlock just isn’t interested in sex because it’s a distraction I find the overall portrayal of sexuality within the show to be extremely narrow and immature.

  • BriaRose

    I agree with you there: Sherlock’s portrayal of sexuality IS extremely narrow and immature. I got drawn into the show before I realized how problematic it was, and thus far I have continued to watch because 1) There are so few episodes and 2) I have friends and family members who enjoy watching it with me and then discussing (even sometimes ranting about its problems). Whereas with Elementary, the things that struck me as problematic were very obvious in the first episode; watching it was a much greater time commitment; and I had no one to share it with.

  • JosieLou

    I generally agree that asshole’s can be interesting to watch because they’re assholes. Gauis Baltar of BSG, Jack Donaghy of 30 Rock, Tywin Lannister etc. However, unlike Sherlock, these characters are shown to be hugely flawed, are disliked and disrespected by other characters and are not the center of everyone else’s universe. It’s more realistic and, to me, makes them more likable. Also, what’s unsettling is that these affable asshole’s are always, always male and white and almost always straight. Can you remember the last time, say, a female character was allowed to be an asshole and was actually LIKED by fans? Can you name a single one who was the MAIN character?

  • Breemeup

    Fuck Moffat.
    Thank you, that is all.

  • Anonymous

    I mean, I was suspicious of Mary from the get-go, but that’s because I’m genre- and Sherlock-savvy, and if there’s a woman who gets any screen time on Sherlock, she’s likely to have some kind of dark backstory and present/open the door for an obstacle for Sherlock.

    Because women are like that.

  • Beverly Ann Nelms

    Don’t forget Sherlock did make sure she was rid of an odious husband. I would imagine he did it while making sure she had enough money to come back home and buy a very nice building she she can take in tenants.
    No wonder she likes him as much as she does.

  • Anonymous

    Or because she realized she didn’t really love him? Seriously, there are plenty of interpretations here.

  • Roberta Niche

    It could be less about Moffat’s misogyny and more about the fact that the show is called (say it with me!): Sherlock. Sher-lock. The women see through his ass-hattery and intuit the somewhat wounded person beneath.

  • aerinha23

    Totally agree…even though I actually liked this season of Sherlock and thought the end of the final episode was fairly valid characterization.

    But let’s look at a list of significant Moffat-originated female characters:

    Nancy the 1940s single mom: actually believable and strong

    Madame de Pompadour: exists to be obsessed with the Doctor and undermine Rose’s character by making her look more obsessed with the Doctor than she is usually depicted as being [I realize this may be lobbing a grenade, sorry]

    Sally Sparrow: the last really independent one

    River Song: starts out badass, eventually revealed to be obsessed with the Doctor

    Amy Pond: obsessed with the Doctor; growing up is explicitly shown to be the Doctor basically handing her off to Rory (although in fairness she was kind of badass in her last three episodes)

    Sally Donovan: vilified

    Molly Hooper: obsessed with Sherlock

    Mrs. Hudson: can’t hear of Sherlock doing any wrong

    Irene Adler: still not sure what the heck was going on there, so I’ll go with “hot mess” and obsessed with Sherlock

    Mary Morstan-Watson: could have been SO GOOD except like so many Moffat women she was really just a plot point and counterpoint for John’s character (though in fairness, they might easily have made Mary shrewish instead of appealing).

    Clara Oswald: do not even get me started on how little character there actually is to Clara

    …so that’s basically two truly independent women positively depicted within the narrative in the past SEVEN YEARS, and both were one-offs. Some of the others are still likable (or at least I want very much to like them), but they aren’t even close to believably whole people.

    I think the problem is that Moffat just doesn’t get women; he’s honestly trying to make his female characters interesting but really really doesn’t understand that “strong female character” doesn’t mean the either the slayer archetype (River, Amy occasionally, Mary) or some kind of mystery (Clara, Amy occasionally, River occasionally). Somebody should introduce him to the Female Character Flowchart: http://www.overthinkingit.com/2010/10/11/female-character-flowchart/ And a good dose of ego deflation. And a real actual woman in the writers’ room.

  • Nirali

    I just hated the, “It’s all your fault, John,” speech that Sherlock and Mary gave him.

  • ampersands

    Well, I would challenge the fact that although many interpretations of Sherlock have been asexual, I don’t consider either Elementary or Sherlock (who himself obviously have sex with Janine this season and falls in love with Irene the season before) to be erasure of asexuality–rather, they’re different interpretations of the character. I can understand that representation matters and that asexuality is underrepresented generally, but the original Sherlock Holmes supports both interpretations of the character’s sexuality.

    Also, on the second note, I was contrasting Joan with Freeman’s Watson, who explicitly loves what Sherlock does because he loves the thrill of it. Furthermore, I recognize that change doesn’t happen in a vaccuum, but your assertion that changing that aspect of the character is a slap in the face to female military doctors…well, I have the same problem with that that I have above. Obviously, there are underrepresented groups in media, but making the assertion that removing that aspect of Joan’s history ruins the character ignores the fact that she’s a visible woman of color in a main role on a basic cable network–one that is respectfully and considerately characterized. So while you can choose not to watch the show, your criticisms fall flat on my ears, since instead of criticizing what it is, you’re criticizing what it’s not.

    What it is, from my point of view, is a well-written show that presents a WOC as a main character, that treats all its female characters with respect, that shows the struggles of drug addiction as a chronic illness, that reveals Sherlock’s antics to be problematic, that has one of the best female villains on television, that features before anything else the partnership and friendship between a man and a woman that is never touched by sexual tension or romance. Before written, Joan could have had a military background, but honestly, I doubt it would add anything to the characterization we have of her–a characterization that makes her a likable, moral, analytic person. I just doubt in any way that giving her the background of a military doctor would actually be reflecting the lives of female military doctors, since this is explicitly a detective procedural, and simply noting that that’s her background doesn’t actually represent that experience in any way. Maybe fight that representative battle elsewhere?

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    I’m talking about the REASON behind that. If she broke it off with her fiance (remember, again, this is the guy who looks and dresses like Sherlock) because she realized she didn’t love him, we have to look at that within the context of the show, and particularly within the context of the episodes of Series 3. And, given the dialogue and her actions and behavior, the most logical conclusion is that she is still gaga for Sherlock.

  • Alex Von Maydell

    While I agree that
    Stephen Moffat is pretty ridiculously self indulgent, I think it’s worth
    pointing out the real life female following that many sociopaths have, such as
    Ted Bundy, and the female fan base of Cumberbatch’s Sherlock himself. (see
    hybristophilia) While Irene Adler’s sudden conversion from a lesbian to
    Sherlock-lover was poor writing, and frankly ridiculous, I think it’s unfair to
    criticise the writing of female characters on the Sherlock worship aspect, as
    many psychopaths have been shown to been seen as charming despite all reason
    and logic. Although I agree, a lot of it does stretch belief, and ends up
    turning into the same infallible-hero-despite-being-a-dick trope that has
    happened with his Dr Who.

  • Katy

    I thought she just danced exotically… or so she claims.

  • Katy

    Totally agree. I really like the characters in Sherlock, but I hate Moffat. He really just needs to stop talking. He’s pretty much the equivalent of Anderson…”[Moffat], don’t talk out loud. You lower the IQ of the whole street.”

  • http://www.thoughtcrimes.org/ Kelvin Mace

    Uh, I have been told I am actually that type of person, several times by friends over the years. One friend (one of only three male friends in my life) told me “People will either take a bullet for you, or they are actively fantasizing about murdering you in a very gory fashion. In fact, they may be planning it…”
    I am not as nasty as Sherlock (nor as diabolically intelligent), but I do not suffer fools willingly. I am unapologetically liberal politically in a part of the country populated with conservatives, in a job besieged by arch-conservatives, so that probably has something to do with my being “polarizing”..

  • social democrat

    I so enjoyed Sherlock’s reunion with John in The Empty Hearse. Each time John popped him one, I cheered him on. John knows exactly who Sherlock is, and still likes him in spite of it, or because of it. Why can’t the women have equally complex feelings?

  • BriaRose

    Okay. That’s an eloquent presentation of what you like about the show, which is what I asked for in my original comment; thank you for it. I never intended to say “this is a bad show” or “they ruined Joan Watson’s character”; I tried to be clear that I was giving my own emotional reactions, as an explanation for why I had been unable to continue watching the show. I apologize if that came off as an objective condemnation of a good series, as it seems it may have.

    I also realize that Holmes was not explicitly asexual in the original and could be interpreted either way, but asexuals have been latching onto his character for a long time, as one of the *only* people in any form of media who *might* be like us. Imagine, say, that there were literally four or five gay men, total, in all of media and entertainment–books, movies, TV shows, EVERYTHING. Now imagine there was a long-beloved character who’d been adopted by the gay community as the most visible example of someone like them. Yes, his original portrayal was a bit ambiguous, but he SEEMED gay, or much closer to it than nearly any other character out there.

    Now imagine how they would feel if you took that character–originally ambiguous, but long loved as a gay icon–and explicitly made him straight as a part of his introduction scene.

    Would that be a defensible decision purely from looking at the original source material? Sure. Would it hurt like hell to all those who’d adopted the character as their icon? YES.

    This is *not not not* a direct parallel. Asexuals have not faced, and still do not face, the same kind of danger, discrimination, and outright hatred that gay people do; I understand that. I’m just trying to explain a little bit, as an asexual, why that decision stung so much. There are almost literally no representations of us, anywhere, and it *felt* like one of them got taken away.

  • Joanna

    Note I said “story”, not “character”. But yeah way to put words in my mouth there buddy.

  • Anonymous

    “Also, what’s unsettling is that these affable asshole’s are always, always male and white and almost always straight. Can you remember the last time, say, a female character was allowed to be an asshole and was actually LIKED by fans? Can you name a single one who was the MAIN character?”

    The discussion was about Sherlock and no, Sherlock is the center of the show. So every interaction is centered on him. As far your agenda about non-white, not straight assholes, that is really not something I care about. Obviously you do.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been reading the original Sherlock stories just to get a sense of what the actual character is like and I feel like Moffat has really ramped up the asshole aspect beyond all reason. The Sherlock in the stories was much more sympathetic to the plights of those he was helping. Or at least that’s the vibe I keep getting as I read. Maybe I have a blind spot reading the text that I don’t have when watching television.

    Most of the people in the books- the “good” guys, anyway- tend to idolize Sherlock and are either oblivious to his eccentricities or are willing to forgive them, so on that score the hero worship thing is canonical, but I do think this is one area where they could try to balance it out a bit and show people who aren’t going to put up with his crap and who will call him on his bad behavior (*cough*DonnaNoble*cough*).

    All that said, I do think that Moffat is a jerk whose ability to write good female characters is a bit intermittent and usually more off than on. Downthread Anastasia mentions that Sherlock is Moffat’s Marty Stu, which is probably how Moff sees it. Except that while Sherlock is actually intelligent and deeply insightful, Moffat only believes he is. The evidence, however, speaks to the contrary.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been reading the original Sherlock stories just to get a sense of what the actual character is like and I feel like Moffat has really ramped up the asshole aspect beyond all reason. The Sherlock in the stories was much more sympathetic to the plights of those he was helping. Or at least that’s the vibe I keep getting as I read. Maybe I have a blind spot reading the text that I don’t have when watching television.

    Most of the people in the books- the “good” guys, anyway- tend to idolize Sherlock and are either oblivious to his eccentricities or are willing to forgive them, so on that score the hero worship thing is canonical, but I do think this is one area where they could try to balance it out a bit and show people who aren’t going to put up with his crap and who will call him on his bad behavior (*cough*DonnaNoble*cough*).

    All that said, I do think that Moffat is a jerk whose ability to write good female characters is a bit intermittent and usually more off than on. Downthread Anastasia mentions that Sherlock is Moffat’s Marty Stu, which is probably how Moff sees it. Except that while Sherlock is actually intelligent and deeply insightful, Moffat only believes he is. The evidence, however, speaks to the contrary.

  • Anonymous

    Mary’s seemingly unrealistic character traits slipped by me at first because that is Moffat’s female character. I figured this was Amy Pond mark 3 (with Clara being Amy Pond mark 2) and I was going to have to lump it.

  • Anonymous

    This reminded me, of something that I forgot to mention in my other comment, actually. I figured she was River ver. 2 (as opposed to an Amy type), because Moffat doesn’t write women OVER 30 like this without there being something else going on.

  • JosieLou

    Wow, okay. Defensive much.

    “The discussion was about Sherlock…”

    You’re right. No one should ever bring up other examples to highlight the point or expand on the issue. Obviously Sherlock was created in a vacuum and is not affected by anything else and doesn’t affect anything else itself. My bad.

    “Sherlock is the center of the show. So every interaction is centered on him.”

    Yeah, I know what a main character is. There’s a difference between a character being central and a character being so special that every other character is obessed with him in one way or another.

    “As for your agenda”

    LOL!

    “…not something I care about.”

    Yeah, I’m getting the sense you don’t much care about anyone else’s opinion and are just here to remind the haterz that Sherlock is super special awesome even if he is an asshole.

    Good day, Sir!

  • CJay

    I don’t think it’s as simple as everyone being a card-carrying member of the Sherlock Fan Club. They’re certainly not blind to his faults. I feel like the women Moffat has created all have the “I can fix him…I will complete him…enabler” complex. He’s got this great, unique quality about him–his genius–and they are willing to endure the rest of his insanity to be in the presence of that uncommon genius and have him in their lives. They want to fix the rest of him so they have the “complete man.” Each woman fills a different gap.

    Molly was deer in the headlights at first, but now she wants him to realize his friends love him but he has got to step it up a notch. She’s just the woman to show him how to be a good person, a connected person. And he knows that. And, if the time came, she could also provide romantic love. Just say the word!

    Mrs. Hudson has that motherly, “I love you despite your faults” kind of love. She doesn’t try to fix him as much as fill in the gaps in his existence. She can’t fix him, but she can smooth the edges a bit…with food, tea, shopping, a straightened flat, gently shames him about the severed thumbs in the frig. She’s endured crazier men in her life already….if she could just fix *this* one… (a pattern?!)

    The Woman is an extreme character like Sherlock who, because she hasn’t got a Molly or a Mrs. Hudson to ground her, is tethered to nothing and no one. She is like a moth to the flame, greatly desiring to feel its glowing red embers (is it getting hot in here?) …she wants to sacrifice herself to the fire, and complete him…together they would be such a conflagration!!(let’s have dinner!)

    And then there’s Mary…Mary, Mary, Mary..She sees him for what he is…and needs to fix him and accept him because she is that broken, too. Someone has to love broken people.

    Which brings us to John, who is, as we know, not a woman. But he is in (to steal Big Bang Theory’s line) in an “ersatz homosexual marriage” with Sherlock which is, of course, why all the gay jokes are funny…because they argue like they’re married. Though he calls Sherlock out for his missteps, he never holds him accountable. John is the ultimate enabler. He accepts completely Sherlock’s incompleteness because he gives him the one thing he never had, that neither of them ever had–true friendship.

    I honestly love the characters he created and I love how well each actor portrays them. It’s really brilliant television. And the fact that we all spend this much time chatting up about it, makes me think he’s hit a nerve somewhere. :-) Feel free to shred away! lol
    And thanks for offering up the intelligent and thoughtful discussion here!

  • Richard Grant

    Ok thats actually interesting to know, thanks! It does show how actors can sometimes be overlooked, in a way, when it comes to problematic aspects in a program.
    Maybe it was just the parts of the internet I was reading, but I hadn’t seen anyone call Matt Smith out on that choice, or even mention that it was him that came up with it! And while that doesn’t excuse anyone else who were in control of the episode for allowing to occur, it is interesting that most of the faults in the show will be chalked up to Moffat, regardless of who actually came up with the idea.
    (Although even when he doesn’t deserve all of the blame, as show-runner he will always be responsible for some of the blame.)

  • Teamugs

    Right. And that’s what I wanted to bring up by correcting you. Moffat has definitely said/done some ignorant shit but I feel like there’s such a hyperfocus on him that other people get away with problematic stuff because it’s automatically “blame Moffat” without actually considering things like who wrote the episode. I’ve never seen Matt Smith called out on this either, but if you watch the behind the scenes footage it is made expressly clear that it is his idea. It’s easy to hate on Moffat because he can be kind of a dick but cute and funny Matt Smith gets a pass which I don’t think is fair. Problematic is problematic.

  • Anonymous

    No, what I don’t care about is going on some tangent about representation when the topic in question was something else.
    I don’t see the series being about the characters obsession with Sherlock and rather being about how people react to him. He (and John to a certain extent) are the focal points that the show revolves around.

    And as for what kind of character Sherlock needs to be appeal to the masses, I would say that the success of the series says all that is needed to be said about that. I don’t think your dislike of the show or Moffat is taking away anything from the show or him. So I guess carry on……..

  • Anonymous

    That depends on how much she has. Unless she does have some squirreled away from her drug days, then yes. She has never been portrayed as all that wealthy, and in our current austerity/recession crisis, yeah, she probably needed to let the room. And since this is happening in modern day London, recession, terrorist cartels, and all, no, I don’t think noticing economic details would be nitpicking.

  • Guest

    This might hold water if Moffat wrote a character who actually is a sociopath as opposed to one who just really likes to tell people he is.

  • Anonymous

    I thought the sequences themselves were better than in Baskervilles, but I hated them both times anyway.

  • ihavenobones

    He’s not a sociopath.

  • ihavenobones

    Agree with Point #2. Holmes is always a little chilly and had some trouble “fitting in”, but he is a gentleman, and charismatic in his oddness and methods.

    The interpretation I see in Moffat’s version is so repellant on a regular basis. It diverges too much from canon AND reasonability. Oh and I’ve already heard the argument that “Holmes was just being nice because that’s what you *did* in the 1800s” and I won’t stand for it. (You really think there were 0 assholes who disregarded the standards of social civility 200 years ago?)

  • Jamie Jeans

    *points and laughs* Moffat discussing female perspective… ohhh, this is too funny.

    Sad, but funny. It’s okay though, he can keep ruining this show. I watch Elementary, a superior Sherlock series, anyhow.

  • Anonymous

    Really? Then who’s this guy?

    “I have no time for trifles,” he answered, brusquely;
    then with a smile, “Excuse my rudeness.”

    “I can see that you have not slept for a night or two,” said ____ in his easy, genial way. “That tries a man’s nerves more than work, and even more than pleasure. May I ask how I can help you?”

    “Watson,” said he, “if it should ever strike you that I am getting a little overconfident in my powers, or giving less pains to a case than it deserves, kindly whisper ‘Norbury’ in my ear, and I shall be infinitely obliged to you.”

    “The law cannot, as you say, touch you,” said _____, unlocking and throwing open the door, “yet there never was a man who deserved punishment more. If the young lady has a brother or a friend, he ought to lay a whip across your shoulders. By Jove!” he continued, flushing up at the sight of the bitter sneer across the man’s face, “it is not part of my duties to my client, but here’s a hunting crop handy, and I think I shall just treat myself to–”

    “You seem to me to have acted all through this matter like a brave and sensible girl, Miss Hunter. Do you think that you could perform one more feat? I should not ask it of you if I did not think you a quite exceptional woman.”

    “God help us! … Why does fate play such tricks with poor, helpless worms? I never hear of such a case as this that I do not think of Baxter’s words, and say, ‘There, but for the grace of God, goes _____’.”

    _____ laid his hand upon the inspector’s shoulder.

    “You will rise high in your profession. You have instinct and intuition,” said he.

    Why, it’s none other than “misogynistic, self centered, brilliant asshole” Sherlock Holmes observing manners, apologizing for perceived rudeness, caring about other people’s feelings, empathizing with the feelings and circumstances of others, caring about his clients in a way that goes beyond professional obligation, and praising others. And that’s just a few examples from a handful of stories.

    I mean, if you want a demonstration of how different Moffat’s Sherlock Holmes stories are from Arthur Conan Doyle’s, look no further than Mycroft and Sherlock’s relationship:

    “By the way, Sherlock,” said he, “I have had
    something quite after your own heart–a most singular problem–submitted to my
    judgment. I really had not the energy to follow it up save in a very incomplete fashion,
    but it gave me a basis for some pleasing speculations. If you would care to hear the
    facts– –”

    “My dear Mycroft, I should be delighted.”

    Now try to imagine Steven Moffat’s Sherlock and Mycroft engaging in this exchange. No, really, try it. It’s funny.

  • Anonymous

    Pretty much everyone I know who watches Sherlock wondered if she was actually evil after the second episode. Sooooo what this tells me is that Moffat doesn’t have much contact with people who critically analyze the stories they consume.

  • Keith Richter

    Wow, Rebecca, kind of a rude response to someone who asked a simple question. Way to show politeness and courtesy to the people who visit your website. Just sayin…..

  • Anonymous

    Agreed. I didn’t argue against it, I merely wanted to explain why you find mainly white characters in the stories. I’ ve no issue with seeing a black or Asian Sherlock Holmes.

  • Joanna

    Mary doesn’t say a whole lot now that I think of it.

  • http://www.imagicon.nl/ Diana van der Pluijm

    My husband doesn’t even watch the show, but half-way through the first episode of the new series he walked in, watched a bit, and said ‘is she gonna turn out evil’? To which I said ‘there’s a high probability of that, yes’. But according to Moffat no one gets it ‘because we all like her’. And that makes us not use our brains. Or something.
    It’s the same sort of thing he keeps saying about Doctor Who and the people who watch it. ‘No one ever saw it coming!’ Yeah, except for those fans who’d been discussing this possibility for a few months now.

  • http://www.imagicon.nl/ Diana van der Pluijm

    However, Sherlock’s not a psychopath/sociopath (different words, same meaning). The only true psychopath would be Moriarty and he even he doesn’t exactly fit the bill.

  • http://www.imagicon.nl/ Diana van der Pluijm

    And this is the problem I have with a certain type of Moffat-fans. They just cannot understand that even though he has a touch of brilliance every now and then, he’s also not very good at certain things, like writing diverse characters or making women be ‘just women’ instead ‘type A/B/C’ when needed for the plot (same goes for male characters as well at times, by the way). It’s okay to like Sherlock and Doctor Who, it really is (I do), but it’s not okay to try to gloss over problematic stuff by saying ‘Moffat’s a genius’ and other such nonsense.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    Which just opens up the HUGE GAPING PLOT HOLE of why Sherlock didn’t investigate her past long before he found himself getting shot by her in episode 3.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed! Moffat is making himself look like more and more of an ass!

    “But all the audience is thinking is, “Well, thank god, she’s not a drag” …because apparently that’s what everyone thinks when they hear you’re adding a new female character to a show?! *rolls eyes*

  • Anonymous

    Particularly for a landlady whose tenants, lets face it, treat her with a total lack of respect! I understand that Sherlock helped her out in the past but I personally don’t think that justifies Moffat making a running joke out of the fact that every other sentence Sherlock and John say to her is ‘shut up Mrs Hudson!’ …the other sentence is usually a demand for tea and biscuits. :/

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    Wait, when did this happen? Did we lose a scene here in America, or did I somehow utterly miss it? The whole point of that little thumb drive was that it had her past on it, and she gave it to John for him to look at when he wanted to know the truth. If Sherlock had told him the truth, what was the point of the thumb drive?

  • Anonymous

    i wouldn’t mind if they were just protective of her but aggressive-protective behaviour coupled with constant disrespect and demands for silence and biscuits paints a pretty unhealthy picture of their relationship. They don’t mind Mrs Hudson if she makes them tea but god forbid she express an opinion in their presence!

  • Anonymous

    We have watched all of the Sherlock series, and for the most part enjoyed them. But watching the first show of season three was almost painful. The writer has made Sherlock’s fascination with himself almost a constant, pathetic series of embarrassing acts of self gratification. Well, actually, my wife summed it up using a long word with sexual connotations which I suspect your filters might reject if I tried to post it. It begins with the letter ‘M’. I have to admit, I had to agree with her.

  • Anonymous

    However, they portrayed the newspaper lady’s behaviour as a petty and vindictive response to Sherlock’s dismissal of her, which reinforces something someone said further up the page about how the only women who don’t like Sherlock (eg Sally Donnovan) being demonized.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    A-fucking-men. Not a psychopath, either, which is the other one people latch onto. Apparently, we need to start screaming it from the rooftops. That, and the writers need to convey that point somehow onscreen, and not just say it in interviews.

  • Anonymous

    He was pretty forgettable. I’m hoping they don’t bother with him after this.
    Wouldn’t it have been interesting if they’d made his potential protege a woman? It could have allowed for a more balanced cast at the very least, since Sally and Janine and Irene are all gone and Molly seems to be taking a bit of a backseat. :(

  • Amy W

    Well, actually… I think he unfortunately WAS quoting fans at that point. Maybe MOST people weren’t thinking that, but there was a very loud contingency of “Mary will ruin EVERYTHING!” going on there. Mostly from Johnlock shippers.

  • Katy

    In Moffat’s defense (never thought I’d write that), I can see why he would say that because fans were concerned with the introduction of Mary. In the stories she’s not very well developed and kind of a drag. Conan Doyle pretty much wrote her out of the series by simply not mentioning her in later books. However, he still should just keep his mouth shut or instead say “Mary is an underdeveloped character in the original stories, so we really had to think about making her an exciting well rounded character who can keep up with Holmes and Watson.”

  • Anonymous

    I’m disappointed to hear that’s what people were actually saying. :( I guess I was worried about how it would work with her too but mostly because as far as I’m concerned Moffat doesn’t have a great track record for strong female characters. The Johnlock rage doesn’t make much sense to me though. I mean, people can slash away all they like but the truth of it is that Mary and John are canon and Sherlock and John are not. I’m never going to be surprised when writers choose not to turn our fanfiction into canon! :p (though if Mary is going to die like she does in canon too then theoretically it doesn’t exclude the possibility for the future if people want to hope!)

  • Anonymous

    Oh no! I made you defend Moffat, lol! :p

    Yeah, I confess she’s not very interesting in the books and I was pretty pleasantly surprised by how Moffat portrayed her in Sherlock. I would have thought Sherlock fans had more faith in the show than to expect her to somehow ruin it (dammit now I’m doing it too!) That’s the odd thing about it; Moffat actually did fairly well with Mary, but these foot-in-mouth comments really don’t help!

  • Silvermoonlight

    Though I was not aware that Matt Smith created this scene I still think it was Moffat’s responsibility to say hang on you know this might not be funny and it might be taken badly by certain people in the audience. Yet he did nothing he just let it happen instead of throwing it on the cutting room floor and saying lets reshoot it and the old version can go on in dvd deleted scenes where I tell the audience we meant this to be funny but thought it was in fact inappropriate to viewers and may cause offence hence why we did the reshoot. .

  • Teamugs

    Perhaps, but I think it’s really unfair to shift the blame from Matt here and try to pin it on Moffat. It does a disservice to the discussion to let likable actors off the hook just so you can pin it on someone you don’t like. Sure no one told him to do it but it was still his idea that he clearly thinks that was funny as shit. Also Mark Gatiss was the one writing and overseeing the episode so it’s pretty unlikely Moffat did much until the very end. You can hate Moffat but don’t deflect other people from blame because you do.

  • Teamugs

    Man, I get disliking Moffat’s writing but I hate how people dislike him just completely dismiss his characters. I mean I could write Rose Tyler off as “just a chav who sulks about her life but does nothing about it until the Doctor comes and fixes it for her and she becomes so obsessed with him she needs a half human Doctor to babysit her”. Technically, all of these things are true but it’s not really a fair representation of the character. Moffat’s characters have imperfections but a lot of people do find things to like about them and I think the complete dismissal is kind of anti-women and crappy.

  • Amy W

    It really is only a tiny bit of the overall fandom, they were just particularly LOUD about it, to the point some of them were even bullying Amanda Abbington. And I agree, it makes absolutely no sense!

  • Christin

    “I should have seen that!” Uh, Moff, a lot of people DID see that. Like, a lot.

  • Brett W

    The show called Sherlock is actually about Sherlock and how amazing he is? What are the chances? What exactly is wrong about showcasing the title character? Isn’t that the whole point? The criticism seems to boil down to “the main character is the main character.”

  • Brett W

    Define “superior”. I’ve watched Elementary, all of it. And while I do like it, it’s not quite as clever and fun as Sherlock is.

  • Brett W

    With respect to the Mycroft conversation, I could see that unfolding with a bit of smug sarcasm. And you’re right, it is funny. They ought to put it in the script. As for the rest, the original stories were written and set in the 1800s when people were a bit more preoccupied with manners and such. Book!Sherlock may seem quite polite and civil to us now, but I suspect that by the standards of the time he would be considered quite rude.

  • ihavenobones

    There’s no reason for her to have known that he was a blackmailer, only that he was a news mogul. It seems like he kept his own schedule in addition to his “official” one that Janine would have seen. To assume complicity is a little outrageous.

    Anyway, she’s based on the character of the housemaid in Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton”, who Holmes gets engaged to in order to get closer to the blackmailer. The housemaid knows nothing either.

  • ihavenobones

    Janine and Sherlock as a couple can be summed up as “Modern Dating” to me, since I’m a terrible cynic when it comes to love, etc. Janine’s revenge was tit-for-tat. They might be pretty good for each other after all.

  • Brett W

    *Everyone* needs Sherlock to save them.

  • Brett W

    I’m one of those who likes both shows. We seem to be so few and far between. But I like Sherlock more. I’m a plot person more than a characterization person, and Sherlock as the superior twists. Plus it has a kind of stylistic x-factor wrapped in a cloak of cool intellectualism. Like a Christopher Nolan film, something else people criticize as being too cold/soulless/lacking characterization/etc. and I look askance at them and say “What are you talking about? This is awesome!”

  • Brett W

    One could say that all the characters are like that. Because they’re secondary characters. It’s what they do.

  • Cait Barrett

    When they all come back to the flat, John asks Sherlock about everything rather than having Mary do the explaining. He asks Sherlock why she’s like that and Sherlock says “because you chose her.” She’s an assassin because on some level he knew something was dangerous about her and that’s why he liked her. She really didn’t get a chance to defend herself. The thumb drive thing happened later.

  • Cait Barrett

    I missed that they co-wrote the second episode this season. I was assuming that they had done like before with them each getting one episode. Mark Gatiss reigning Moffat in though, I mean, shows more in the fact that they’re both co-creators so share the responsibilities of it. Moffat can’t run as wild as he wants.

  • Beverly Ann Nelms

    I was surprised by the slap scene, too. After he was shot I took it to be a writer’s device. The slaps drilled information in through the shock and kept him alive. Without the earlier slaps we wouldn’t have a context for it.

  • Brett W

    Was Irene a lesbian? Forgive my naivete, but I thought she was bisexual as she mentioned having male clients. Of course this presumes that someone not attracted to men would never have sex with them in any context, even a “professional” one.

    As for people not calling out Sherlock, it’s wish fulfillment at its finest. Not saying it’s right or wrong, but that’s what it is. I mean, who wouldn’t love to be a super-genius with cool and eccentric (albeit non-genius) friends who let or even help you get away with murder? (Literally in season 3. Spoilers.) Of course… maybe most people don’t identify with Sherlock the same way I do.

  • Brett W

    Well, she did accuse him of kidnapping children just to make himself look clever. In fact, she also retroactively accused him of everything Moriarty did including the people strapped to bombs in S1. She’s quite a petty and resentful person. So if you’re looking for someone to take the moral high ground, she’s not it. Too bad we didn’t see how she reacted to the Fall aftermath. I can only assume she danced on Sherlock’s grave and then felt quite silly after his name was cleared and he came back.

  • Anonymous

    She declared herself as gay. She may had both male and female clients but dominatrices aren’t defined by engaging in intercourse with their clients.

  • Anonymous

    That really isn’t the problem. Moffat/Gatiss are lazy and are more about clumsy plot twists than character development.

    If you they took the Burn Notice approach where the producers gave each character a story, you can give a lot of cannon characters a trilogy within the shows format (major,minor, in-between).

    EX: Violet Hunter- “The Copper Beeches”, “Abbey Grange”, “Retired Colourman”

    Helen Stoner- “Speckled Band” “Sussex Vampire” “A Case of Identity”

  • Brett W

    Again pardon my naivete, but are there not people who use “gay” as a catch-all term for everything that isn’t heterosexual?

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    Ahhh – that didn’t really give any info about her past, but yes, John was addressing Sherlock instead of her. I actually took that as a purposeful choice – that John was feeling so betrayed, he did not WANT to talk to her at that point.

  • Anastasia Lynn Storer

    I believe the actual exchange went something like this: John: “I’m not gay.” Irene: “But I am.” That’s paraphrased, but it’s pretty clear and unambiguous.

  • Anonymous

    It is Moffat’s fault! He kept it in! It doesn’t matter that Matt Smith ad-lib that part. Moffat, the showrunner, endorsed it by keeping it in. Unless recorded TV somehow became live theater there was nothing to stop Moffat from cutting that part out.

  • Katy

    I think Sherlock was part of it, but I think a bigger part of it was Molly realized Tom was an idiot after the “meat dagger” comment in The Sign of Three.

  • http://melancholywise.tumblr.com/ Sophie

    Yeah, I winced at that. It’s frustrating because he’s right that Mary was a weak character in the original books (by which I mean her characterisation was weak not that she failed at being a ‘strong female character’). I thought Sherlock’s Mary was a big improvement from the barely there Mary of the books. But the Sherlock Holmes books do have some excellent female characters and Moffat keeps squandering them (the main that comes to mind is of course Irene Adler).
    I think in some ways he’s using his preconceptions of Doyal’s female characters as a way to dismiss them.

  • Huh?

    Oh boy, that was a doozy.

  • Anonymous

    But it’s an equally unfair summarisation of her story?
    I didn’t intend to put words in your mouth (though it seems that’s exactly what I did), just to point out that it’s not an accurate way to describe Mary or Irene, in character OR story. Does Sherlock save them both? Yes. But it doesn’t encapsulate either of their relationships, or their stories, or their characters. It just reads as an unfair and inaccurate description, to say that THAT is what defines either characters story/storyline.

  • Anonymous

    The problem is that in-world, Sherlock does a lot of messed up things and isn’t called on it. Not nearly enough, at least.
    What counfuses me is that Moffat, Vertue, Gatiss and co., frequently talk about what a douche he is. I think they just have too much fun with him BEING a douche (Cumberbatch, too, I recall saying in an interview that his original approach to the character was to make him more human and smile-y, and then he said ‘Screw it’ and just committed to making Sherlock Holmes something of a jerkface) to ever to anything to rectify it. And while him being a jerk can be fun, it’s only in moments when people respond the right way. With offence, or with an eyer-roll. Janet (I’ve never seen the characters name written down, I don’t think, so I’m not 100% on the spelling) had a pretty good response to finding out he’d used her, and that’s what made the whole thing more entertaining; Janet wasn’t treated well or fair by Sherlock, but upon discovering his bullshit she decided to get one over on him (and it turns out she was pretty much playing him the whole time too). She emerges from that interaction something of an equal to Sherlock, if not superior (and not just because he’s lying in a hospital bed, in opposite-of top form). THAT was a good way to play Sherlock’s douchiness. He does something stupid, is called on it, seemingly learns…something resembling a lesson. When that doesn’t happen, the show essentialy glorifies his behaviour and disrespects whoever’s been wronged by him.
    Essentially, there’s a difference between Sherlock the character treating a character, and Sherlock the show treating a character badly. Sherlock the show lets Sherlock the character get away with too much.

  • gromator

    But isn’t Sherlock supposed to be a sociopath? If they didn’t use that term lightly, as a gag, he is SUPPOSED to be a jerk and have psychological and behavioural issues. Sociopaths tend to have a problem with judgement of what is morally right and they disregard social norms. I always assumed that he got away with acting like that because people were aware of his condition.

  • gromator

    I didn’t get the impression that she was in love with him. She thought that he was amusing and he definitely intrigued her. And most certainly not obsessed with him. She was Moriarty’s girl, he was giving her information about Sherlock so she can decide how to approach him. Irene is not some naive teenaged girl, she approached Sherlock as an assignment, or a puzzle. She didn’t have a problem with manipulating him to get the information about the flight. And I thought that the whole “I am Sherlocked” thing was a non romantic sentiment, like an homage to the whole game they were playing. At least that’s how I saw it.
    And on the subject of Sherlock getting away with acting like a jerk, I always thought that others associated his behaviour with the fact that he is a sociopath, and they know that he has a problem with normal human relationships and conversations.

  • Katy

    I just choose to believe that the person developing the characters is Gatiss because then I don’t have to defend Moffat!

  • aerinha23

    Very true. I like Kate, although she hasn’t had a whole lot of time to shine. I was going more for the featured characters–recurring or very significant one-off characters who had plenty to do. But good point!

  • Brett W

    I think this goes back to wish fulfillment. Given the chance, who wouldn’t want to be always right and get away with everything?

  • aerinha23

    I don’t think criticizing the one-sidedness of many Moffat-created characters is the same as dismissing them. I’m a bit dismissive of Clara, true, primarily because she’s been in eight or nine episodes now (not counting the Oswin incarnation, which was GREAT) and I don’t think we know anything about her as a character. But there are things to love about all of them (River and Amy are fun and witty, and I still think Mary has good potential for complexity). They’re just all troublesome in that they don’t behave or react like whole people with natural and believable emotions, skills, likes, dislikes, flaws, life narratives, etc.–they aren’t nearly as complex as Moffat’s male characters. And yet he still thinks he’s writing strong female characters, when he’s really writing endearing tropes who never really seem to grow much, remaining in orbit around the men instead.

  • aerinha23

    Especially when he KNEW from the beginning that she was lying about something (if you go back and look frame by frame in 3.1, the word “liar” is there when he first analyzes her; it’s quick but you can catch it). That’s not like when he refrains from announcing Molly’s fiance’s life history in a rare moment of social grace; it’s just not very Sherlock to ignore questions about someone close to John, even if he likes her.

  • Teamugs

    I guess my point was that the first comment came across as not seeing the forest for the trees. There are definitely things to criticize about Moffat’s writing of female characters (and of female characters in Who overall really), but some people (and I apologize if I wrongly included you in that) do the characters a disservice by writing them off as one sided when they focus on only one trait (obsessing over the Doctor) which is also shared by other characters like Rose and Jack Harkness. So basically what I am saying is that, yes sometimes they’re unrealistic, but other times they hit the mark. I personally relate to Clara more than any companion ever and I’d like to think I’m a natural and believable person. I could write an essay about how there are a lot of interesting aspects to Clara’s personality as well, though I do agree her development has been weak, but that’s neither here nor there.

    And as an aside, I think saying Amy Pond didn’t grow much is pretty inaccurate. I find some of her writing really flawed but there is clear development there. She developed more than say Martha.

  • skychick9

    I’m in nursing school right now, and my goal is to be a trauma and flight nurse. I seriously hope I actually have the mettle your mom has, because she sounds seriously amazing and badass.

  • Chrysalice_Fiasco

    This comment isn’t specifically about Sherlock, but more about Moffat himself. Has anyone else noticed how almost all of the mother/mother figures he creates or writes for are either useless, insignificant or utterly opposed to whatever shenanigans the main cast get involved in. This is more prominent in Doctor Who.

  • Richard Grant

    …I did acknowledge that at the very end of my comment, that as showrunner he will still ultimately responsible.
    My point was that even while acknowledging the responsibility of Steven Moffat as showrunner, you can’t ignore the responsibility of others in creating the problematic representations.
    Matt Smith actively came up with one of the most controversial parts of the last season of Doctor Who, he has just as much responsibility in this as Steven Moffat, as does Saul Metzstein, the director of the episode.

    Acknowledging the faults of others, does not ignore the responsibility of Steven Moffat as showrunner. It is just acknowledging that there are numerous factors at work in the creation of television, and when problematic representations occur, the responsibility is not just on the showrunner but on those who actually came up with them (be they a writer, actor or director.)

  • Joanna

    It pretty much boiled down to the same thing though. I was happy enough with Mary until she whipped out the USB stick and I got an overwhelming deja vu. Was a different dilemma for Mary too much to ask of these writers? lol.

  • Anonymous

    That actually frustrated me too. I quite liked Mary and Irene but, at the very end of both storylines, they do start to parallel eachother. (The main thing that annoyed me was how it almost served as an ‘explanation’for how Mary was so clever. Why was that necessary?)

  • Anonymous

    But he has been called out in the past, and learned from it. There’s been instances where John or someone else merely has to give him a look and he steps down from being a jerk. Also, he is very aware of what’s he’s doing often times, when he’s cruel. Like when he starts yelling at that woman at the school where the children have been taken from, and directly after she answers him, he reverts back to nice guy mode. There’s clearly an awareness to his behaviour. He’s a sociopath, but one who, very often, understands why what he’s doing is wrong, and can often be convinced not to.
    Importantly, the characters seem to have realized this on a couple of occasions, so it’s baffling that they don’t take advantage of their ability to make him choose a different path. Considering that they HAVE, in the past, ‘talked him down’, the fact that they so often don’t, it does seem a lot as though they’re willing to just let him be a jerk when they know he can be better, with very little stress or difficulty involved.

  • Joanna

    Ugh. Ikr? The series has the potential to be a million times better if not for the trademark Gatiss/Moffat shit-fuckery. I love the show which unfortunately makes its flaws all the more glaring.

  • gromator

    I’m saying this only because I have experience with a sociopath. Sociopaths are not bad people, they simply don’t understand when they cross the line. They know how to get what they want, but they usually can’t understand the feelings of others. I always assumed that Sherlock isn’t aware when he’s being a jerk, but he believes others when they tell him that he is. He would need constant correcting from his friends, and that would be pretty exhausting for everyone. If he truly is a sociopath, he would need much more than just his friends’ nagging. For example, he yelled at that woman because he wanted her to talk faster and he knew that his behaviour would make her do so. If John told him that wasn’t ok behaviour, he would believe him, but he would show no regret and would certainly do exactly the same in the next similar situation.

  • Teamugs

    Don’t defend Matt Smith doing something problematic. That’s just proof you don’t actually give a shit about problematic stuff and just want to hate Moffat. It does matter that Matt thought of it and put it in. Responsibility is with Moffat, but not SOLELY with him and it’s bullshit to let Matt of the hook because you think he’s adorable.

  • Ursula L

    I see Molly as having grown quite self-aware in her relationship with Sherlock.

    She had a crush on him, but she came to realize that he was not a person who would ever have a physical relationship with her, and also that he wasn’t a good choice for a variety of reasons, even if he was interested.

    She has a physical type that she likes – Sherlock and Tom both fit that image.

    People can’t always will away their emotions towards another person. But they can control how they act.

    Molly no longer puts on lipstick for Sherlock. She enjoyed the one day of crime-solving, but set a limit after that. She’ll help him fake his death, but won’t chase after him the way John does. She knows she can fluster Sherlock by talking about sex, she knows it will be hilarious to see him read the wedding telegrams.

  • Anonymous

    It really is Moffat and Gatiss storytelling flaws, and sometimes very old-fashioned values, that JUST holds it back from something close to perfection. Hard to 100% appreciate a show when the flaws keep popping up going ‘Hey! Remember us? We’re here too!’

  • Anonymous

    But there was no smug sarcasm in the original exchange–that’s exactly the point. Mycroft and Sherlock in the original story (The Greek Interpreter, if you’re interested) have a perfectly nice relationship, with Sherlock often taking cases to Mycroft for help (because as he freely admits without any resentment whatsoever, “Mycroft has better powers of observation than I”) and Mycroft referring Sherlock interesting cases that require more legwork than he is willing to put in. They’re not just civil to each other because they have to be, they actively seek out each other’s company and get along perfectly well.

    There’s no need to speculate as to whether Holmes was considered quite rude by the standards of the time–the stories take place during that time. He is not considered rude within the stories by characters who exist in the same time period as he does.

  • Anonymous

    But Moffat and Gatiss are treating nearly every filmed interpretation of Sherlock Holmes as canon also, specifically, one of their favorite movies, “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes,” which presents Mycroft and Sherlock as having a troubled relationship. I, for one, find their relationship in Sherlock very entertaining, due to the characters’ “Smug Sarcasm.” If I want an exact copy of the original stories, I go back and read the original stories. The pleasure of Sherlock is in the creative reinterpretation of those original adventures, the way they rearrange and rebuild the original plots and characters, not in how authentic it is.

    And I don’t watch Sherlock because he’s “nice.” If you haven’t noticed or enjoyed the way that they have humanized him, then so be it, but complaining about how he’s not a ‘nice guy’ is pointless. Watch Elementary instead.

  • E.V. Emmons

    Not really, Molly didn’t need him to save her. Well, he saved her wasting her time, by saying Moriarty is gay, but I wouldn’t call that ‘saving’ as such.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, kind of not what I was addressing? I don’t care why you like Sherlock, and I don’t care that you do like Sherlock. I like parts of it too. What I care about is fans of Sherlock repeatedly misrepresenting the original ACD stories for the sake of defending their show and the creative choices of the writers. Shockingly, it’s kind of irritating when people pretend to be authorities on something they haven’t actually read.

    As you say, Moffat’s Sherlock does not need to be a carbon copy of the original stories in order to be good. I agree with you! Which is why it is both stupid and annoying to justify Moffat’s creative choices with “but it’s exactly like the Arthur Conan Doyle stories!” It’s demonstrably not true, and it doesn’t even need to be, which is why people should stop saying it. That was literally the only thing that I was debating in my comments, so I really don’t know why your comment to me contains so many assumptions about what I want, what I haven’t noticed or enjoyed, and what I complain about. Seriously, quote me the part where I complain that BBC’s Sherlock isn’t a nice guy.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, I was responding to the original post as mush as I was to you. But overall, that does seem to be the general complaint.

    I wouldn’t justify Moffat’s creative choices by stating that they’re just like the book, but as a fan of both, I do applaud the way they are using the original material. The many of the fans of the show enjoy the references to the original canon, and that’s why they point it out. For them/us it is the highlight of Sherlock, so of course they’re/we’re going to point it out,

  • Anonymous

    Again, that is fine–except you weren’t the person I was responding to in this comment thread. The first person I was responding to said that “a misogynistic, self centered, brilliant asshole … is, in fact who the character of Sherlock Holmes is (always has been, and except in cases where the stories depart so wildly from canon as to be unrecognizable, always will be).”

    That isn’t a statement about how Moffat references the source material–it’s a statement about the source material itself, and a wildly inaccurate claim at that. It’s a defense of Moffat based on the (false) idea that he mimics the source material, rather than adapting it–while ironically claiming that a story that changed Holmes’ character would “depart so wildly from canon as to be unrecognizable”.

    I’ve no doubt that for you, Moffat’s references to the ACD stories (and the other adaptations through the years) are a high point of Sherlock, but I equally have no doubt that many fans of Sherlock have never read the original ACD stories (or don’t remember them very well) and use claims about them in order to defend Moffat’s creative choices. That is explicitly what I was responding to in this thread.

  • Miss_Dahlia

    So..he made Mrs Hudson (Una Stubbs) talk..just so Sherlock could yell “WHAT IS THE POINT OF YOU?” at her while she wrings her hands? Twice in the third series alone?!

  • Anonymous

    Nah, Irene Adler is Sherlock’s River.