#this is why i’m so invested in this sherlock #because he’s allowed to be human #he’s fucked up and layered and real #he’s not just some impressively perfect robot who’s always right #he connects to and cares about the victims #and that’s why i love him so much
Being more empathetic/emotional is not the same as being more human. There are people who, due to disorders/illnesses/disabilities/et cetera/ lack empathy or don’t display emotions very well. How do you think it affects the aforementioned people when you equate bieng more empathetic/caring/emotional do being human.
Elementary—while it has lower production values and the occasional overdone eyeroll-inducing line (“Holmes: just give me ten minutes! Gregson: You’ve got five.”)—is the better show due to its actual MODERNIZATION of canon as opposed to Moffat and Gatiss’ visually stunning, but ultimately swamped in cis straight male supremacy, venture.
Elementary doesn’t joke about eating disorders, doesn’t pull NO HOMO visual jokes, doesn’t demonize every single character of color in its cast, doesn’t lend textual support to the humiliation of its female characters, and doesn’t pretend that the highly toxic interactions between its protagonists are the signs of a healthy, strong friendship.
Elementary DOES have a complex female protagonist of color in one of the most beloved roles to come out of modern literature, it does have a black detective who ISN’T constantly put down and belittled, and it does feature a realistic developing partnership between its protagonists with the promise of a healthy friendship should things continue to progress in that direction.
Apart from the few aforementioned cliche moments, most of Elementary’s writing is excellent and occasionally quite exquisite. Most of Sherlock’s writing is flashy, nonsensical, and—especially in Moffat’s episodes—reaches for the easy witticism before the plot and character development. Elementary’s plot twists are always surprising but never illogical, whereas Sherlock’s are frequently laughable and offensive (Sherlock swooping into Karachi to save Irene from scary brown people waving swords? Really?)
As for your respect for Moffat and Gatiss being fans, isn’t it interesting that when Sherlock takes things directly from other adaptations (the layout of 221B, which is the exact design from the Granada series, the scene in TRF in which Moriarty walks up the stairs as Sherlock plays the violin, which is a copy of The Woman in Green, and much of the dynamics of A Scandal in Belgravia from The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes) it’s called an homage, and when Elementary references canon (i.e. the mind attic), it’s called stealing from Sherlock (i.e. the mind palace)?
Elementary’s Opening Credits
we’re not here for magical white saviors on either side of the atlantic.
i really, really want there to be an episode (or actually a RECURRING THEME) of holmes not being able to solve things because his privilege gets in the way. like, there are just some POVs or situations he just doesn’t/can’t think of because it’s so beyond his experience as a rich (well, his dad seems to be) white dude.
omg what if there’s an ep where watson, bell, and abreu are all on the same page, and holmes simply just can’t get it bc he’s white?!
Wow so today in my Soc class we talked about a lot, and the best part about it is, I was able to apply Elementary to a lot of things we discussed. And then I realized that I can’t really do that with Sherlock. A lot of Sherlock doesn’t seem very realistic. It’s very stylized and romanticized and doesn’t feel like it would happen irl. But Elementary feels like something that could happen in New York City, in any town in America, really. I like that.
- Sherlock Holmes: I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.
- Goddess Liu: That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard.
- Goddess Liu: That's not even how the brain works.
Doesn’t Sherlock Holmes sort of define procedural cop dramas? Like, didn’t it sort of CREATE the genre? And since when is a procedural cop drama suddenly a horrible thing? Like. What.
Like this argument has fucking baffled me because if you read ANY of the original Holmes stories, they are, at their core, PROCEDURAL COP STORIES.
peeps, we need to have a serious talk
there is some serious cultural fetishization and appropriation going on that we need to be aware of, and that we need to stop right away
this is supposed to be a safe fandom, but it’s already becoming an unsafe space for POC
don’t compare our fandom fights with BBC Sherlockians to a massacre that you were never affected by
don’t manipulate photos of Lucy Liu to create some hodgepodge of what you imagine “Asian” culture to be, because Asia is not a country
Okay so my only problem with Elementary so far is that I think Lucy Liu would make a way better Sherlock than a Watson. I actually really want to see some femlock now, does anyone know of any good adaptations w/ a female lead?
I don’t have any femlock for you, but this was an interesting idea. The more I think about it, the more I start to agree…
I could easily see Lucy Liu playing such a sharp and calculating character.
-she certainly has the cheekbones for it-
I’m actually leery about the prospect of an Asian woman playing a Sherlock type of character, because you really do have to keep in mind the stereotypes that surround Asians and how Asian American actors have to really struggle to get roles BEYOND those. The cold, calculating, “unfeeling” Asian woman who’s in charge? Yeah, that’s the “freakishly smart Asian”, “inscrutable Oriental”, and “dragon lady” tropes right there. That Asians are constantly portrayed in these ways might be the very REASON why you might feel that Lucy Liu would be much better suited to Sherlock.
Doesn’t mean it’s not possible to subvert these tropes or to invoke them with full awareness of how it’s been done badly to try to portray such a character as a fully realized person, but with the track record for how these things are handled I wouldn’t be optimistic.
As Watson, she gets to be the “heart” rather than the “heartless.” She’s clearly a very competent person, as she’s the one who picks up on the clue that solves the case, but it’s not overt or exaggerated. She’s intelligent without it being the only noticeable trait about her. She’s not just a walking caricature and it’s so important to me that she remains this way because I’m sick of seeing Asian American actors being put in roles that only serve to perpetuate stereotypes against us.
This. I try to explain why this insistence that Liu should play Holmes is dicey, but wasn’t able to frame it as well.
Having her play the softer, more incredulous character is actually the far more progressive choice.
also, going by the pilot, Watson, a woman of colour, IS the female lead. i guess from other recent sherlock holmes adaptations (or shows like castle or house), one might expect holmes to be THE lead, but i think/hope ‘elementary’ is invested in watson as co-lead. she’s not secondary to holmes. and given that SHE tells holmes what to do and how to behave, if the roles were reversed, with a white man telling a woc to ‘go to the car’… that’s not something i would want to watch.
and why are there so many requests for two women (race unspecified, of course, so it defaults to white) to play holmes & watson, but practically none for holmes to be POC. i mean, side-eying forever a recent fanvid that has two white women as holmes & watson. i see who your feminism prioritizes.
i mean, a lot of the people who say “oh i looooved elementary but if only~ lucy liu played sherlock i see her better as sherlock!” don’t realise that the only reason they see her better as sherlock than as watson is because asians have always been portrayed (when we’re not the laughable idiot or the whore clinging to her white baby daddy) as characters like sherlock — intelligent, mysterious, and unfeeling.
and lucy liu’s done that. that’s how i first knew of her — as the dragon lady. asian american ladies don’t get to be intelligent, competent, and have feelings (unless, of course, their feelings are their downfall) and the assumption that a series based on sherlock holmes means sherlock is automatically the main character simply does not stand if you bothered to watch the pilot because this is very clearly a story about two characters of equal importance trying to get their lives back together again, so lucy liu is not playing the subordinate, secondary character.
and if she’s not playing the subordinate character, then all this saying that elementary would have been so much better had lucy liu (L I U folks not lui) been watson are just the products of an incredibly outdated set of tropes that render us emotionless. as usual. and it wouldn’t have been as progressive as some people seem to think it is. at all.
what a gr9 post :’D
Elementary 1x02 Promo/Preview “While You Were Sleeping”
When I first heard they were casting Lucy Liu as Watson in the American TV show about Sherlock Holmes, I was really upset. There’s a lot of bullshit reasons to be upset about casting Lucy Liu for this role; racists and sexists have been shouting that Watson is just supposed to be white and male. Slash fans hate it too, because suddenly it’s hetero sexual tension, which is also a bullshit reason not to cast women of color in everything. That’s not why I was upset, though.
The reason it worried me is because the relationship between Holmes and Watson chiefly consists of Holmes ridiculing Watson, insulting Watson, exploiting Watson, and generally abusing Watson in almost every way possible. That dynamic between white men is disturbing and upsetting, but between a white man and a woman of color? On national American TV?
Turns out, I was right to worry.
In the first episode, the first instant Sherlock meets Watson he makes a (plausibly deniable) romantic pass at her in such a way that leaves her shaken, unbalanced, confused, and self-doubting. Following this disturbing beginning he gaslights her, publicly ridicules her, shouts at her so he can steal and destroy her car, pries into her personal life in ways that are even more inappropriate and horrifying when she’s a woman, grossly mistreats another woman in front of her, and uses classic abuse tactic after classic abuse tactic on her to get his way and hook her into staying.
There is a point in the episode where you hope she will leave. She says she’s leaving and not coming back because he’s already mistreated her so horribly. But, because the producers want there to be a show, they write her returning to and pandering to this abusive, exploitative, dangerous white man.
Sherlock is always abusive in any iteration of this story. But the American Sherlock is a master manipulator beyond any other version I’ve ever seen. Everything he does is calculated. Even when he apologizes, because of how severe his abuse and gaslighting and headfucking has already been, I don’t believe him and wonder what angle he’s playing by apologizing and what he’s planning to get from it later. I doubt everything he says. He is cold, destructive, selfish, frightening, and utterly unsympathetic.
When I got to the end of the episode, I felt like I’d just watched a woman get into the relationship that will utterly destroy her life. And, given that Reichenbach Falls is where this story inevitably goes, we already know it will.
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this post yet, but it certainly raises some things for me to think about. (hobbitdragon’s definitely not a troll, by the way, I will vouch for him along those lines.) That said, in this case and at this point, I feel uncomfortable about a white man (the OP) arguing for interpretation where a WoC character is manipulated by and pandering to a white man.
I don’t feel totally good about this post. Not so much for the points made, if they had been made by a WoC, or even a woman about potential sexism, or a PoC about potential racism, but for the identities of the person making the post.
As both a survivor and a PoC, I didn’t pick up on gaslighting. That certainly doesn’t mean it’s not there, and I am planning on re-watching the episode at some point with the framework of abuse more forefront in my mind, to see what I personally think. I’m not sure yet.
What I will say, however, is that there are a lot of WoC in this fandom making positive statements about the Sherlock/Joan relationship— about her setting boundaries, about her letting him know what is and isn’t acceptable behavior, about her not pandering to him, about her not taking his shit. So to specifically then, as a white man, say she’s a woman of color solely pandering to a white man and being manipulated strikes me as problematic.
Basically if the post were, on an individual level, talking about a potential abuse narrative that might be romanticized, or critiquing Sherlock’s abusive tendencies, I’d probably be down with that? But I don’t know if it’s okay for hobbitdragon to make these claims about Joan as a WoC, which is what the post is framed around.
If WoC disagree with me on this and feel hobbitdragon’s in the right, though, I defer to them.
this WOC survivor agrees with you.
Another WoC here! Honestly, the OP’s post made me feel really really icky and uncomfortable. I sat and thought about it for a while, and I think I’ve figured it out.
He is seeing, analyzing, and judging a WoC character based on the actions of a white male character.
Because, lbr, many of the things Holmes does are problematic. But Holmes’ actions do not define Watson’s character.
The way Holmes is written has no effect at all on how you should see Watson, and actually addresses several real life issues. Because if Holmes was a perfect ally and super respectful and treated Watson with utter equality, it would be nothing like the way a real relationship with those particular dynamics would work, and it would be horrible representation—in fact, it’d be the very essence of white people’s “color blindness.”
And, okay, yeah, it was easier and automatic for the OP to see things from Holmes’ point of view because he’s a. the main character (…sort of?), b. more dramatic, and c. someone hobbitdragon would instinctively identify with due to sharing a similar role in society (white men understand more about white men than about anyone else, okay?). So it’s an easy mistake to make here, and I can see why he saw things that way and that he meant well.
But, look. If a white man demeans me, abuses me, and manipulates me, that’s problematic, and that reflects on the white man’s character. But it does not make me a bad WoC.
OP (and everyone else reading this), I’m gonna ask you to take a minute and, instead of saying, “Holmes does this and this and this,” think about what Watson does.
Joan Watson is a BAMF. She’s got huge problems going on already—losing her surgeon’s license, starting a new job, moving somewhere new (with someone she has to be with 24/7, which is a really difficult thing to do), having family problems lurking behind every phone call. And then she walks into Holmes’ house and he’s a jerk to her. He’s manipulative and unpredictable and callous and destructive.
And she refuses to back down.
She stands her ground the way WoC have learned we have to. She’s got a job to do, and she’s dedicated to it, and no spoiled white boy is going to stop her doing what she has decided to do. She sees when he manipulates her, and takes control back as soon as she can. She’s abused by him, and she turns around and calls him on a truckload of things. She proves herself over and over and over again—not because she’s inferior and the producers need her to be special, but because that is what WoC do every day. Every single day, we are confronted by the racism and sexism in our workplaces, our homes, even walking down the street or standing in line at the grocery store. And the only way we ever get an ounce of respect from the people demeaning us is to prove ourselves repeatedly as competent, strong, intelligent—because if we don’t provide excessive and obvious evidence, it’s assumed that we aren’t.
Then we see her reach her breaking point, when she cannot take what is happening. Her goals—new goals, the ones that are supposed to make up for all the things she’s lost—are gone. She can’t reach them. She lost her surgeon’s license, and now she can’t even handle being a sober companion for more than a couple of days. She’s failed again, and she hates it, and she’s about to give up.
And then she rises again. She stands up. She looks at Holmes and calls him on what he’s done and then solves a crime for him, not because he’s so amazing that she needs to help him, but because two people are dead and their killer is walking free and Joan Watson, for the first time since a patient died on her operating table, can do something to make the world a little bit better. And she’s not going to let a spoiled white boy keep her from having that again.
As a WoC, I watched Joan Watson fight against the society that constantly tries to push her down. I saw her struggle against abuse and maltreatment and prejudice. I saw her dealing with the same problems I deal with as a WoC every day of my life. And I watched her win.
Good character writing and good representation do not rely on never showing any sort of mistreatment and treating every character equally (read: like they were rich white men). They hinge on showing the inequality and mistreatment that happens in real life, and how the character fights against it.
Fellow scenic design enthusiasts! There’s a new video out showcasing Elementary’s set, featuring time-lapsed footage and shots of the rooms.