The problem with BBC Shrlock

Steven Moffat, the creator of BBC Sherlock, is a biphobic, homophobic, misogynistic, fatphobic and all-around piece of shit. [link] Some stellar quotes of his include, “women are needy”, “women spend all their time hunting for husbands”, “asexuals are boring”, “bisexuals have too much sex to even bother watching his shows”, “gay characters are going through a phase”.

It’s not just the creator though. The cast is led by two walking mountains of garbage:

Bendyback Cucumberpatch: [link], [link], [link]. Particularly ugly quotes include him calling autistic people “Frankenstein’s Monster” and “man infants”; saying that he (a man who inherited his fortune from slave-owners) pities JLM because he has to play Sherlock in Elementary “to feed his children”, misgendering and dead-naming Chelsea Manning, and defending a rapist.

Martin Freeman: [link], [link], [link]. Highlights include: calling Lucy Liu “a dog”, defending islamophobia, saying the n-word, joking about date rape.

And that is just the people involved in the show! Of course, it should be enough of a reason to say, yeah, this awful show that is giving a lot of money to bigoted people should be cancelled because bigots don’t deserve to make money, right? But the show itself is also a piece of flaming garbage.

BBC Sherlock is Sexist

“The three recurring female characters who were actually important to the plot were all linked by two traits. Firstly, they’re all romantically linked to one of the two male leads, and secondly, the events of this episode transformed each of them from being independent humans to acting like orbiting satellites, helpless to the gravitational pull of Sherlock’s personal storyline.”- [“His Last Vow,” Part 2: Women, eh?]

In many ways the Holmes stories are a perfect fit for Moffat’s skill-set. The puzzle-box plotting, the 24/7 bromance, the fetishisation of “masculine” reason over pesky “feminine” emotion, all suit him right down to the ground.- [Is Sherlock sexist? Steven Moffat’s wanton women]

The patronizing of women litters “An Abominable Bride.” It distracts the viewer from the layered narrative that visits a contemporary Holmes, who is self-administering an overdose of hallucinogenic drugs to facilitate a visit to the snigger-inducing “mind palace” (he might as well call it his man cave), that whisks us back to the Victorian period and the setting of Conan Doyle’s original compendium of tales. – [Sherlock (Still) Has a Woman Problem]

It appeared, at first, that “The Abominable Bride,” with its interest in women and women’s rights, was an attempt on the part of the show runners to address some of these criticisms and to create a progressive, less offensive show. Instead, it turned out to be one of the most sexist episodes ever. – [Psst, “Sherlock,” Your Sexism Is Showing]

The belief that lesbian women will somehow magically be overcome by the sight of a strong man is a popular misconception not just in pop culture, but in real life. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that Moffat, who has a clear idea in his head of himself as a mesmerizing Lothario, should “happen” to write a lesbian who falls in love with a thinly-veiled version of himself. – [WILL THE NEXT SEASON OF “SHERLOCK” BE LESS SEXIST?]

BBC Sherlock is Homophobic

But it wasn’t going to be just one joke. Let’s laugh at gayness became the flavour, not just of the episode, which was rife with “I’m not gay – not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I’m not. Gay. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s really important you don’t get the  wrong impression. Not that there’s anything wrong with that kind of thing.” – [Sherlock is one long gay joke]

The show’s pretty good but what caught my attention was the homo subtext with John and Sherlock. It really had the opportunity to be progressive here and have the two same-gender leads of an immensely popular and well-received show be more than just friends. (…) You don’t get to throw these things in there and then pretend like they don’t mean anything. You don’t get to tease the queers and the hetero girls who will ship it but then never actually put the queer in your show. – [Sherlock is the grossest example of queerbaiting]

On the most obvious level, Sherlock operates on a primarily heterocentric basis, and has a bad habit of presenting few and problematic queer characters. Out of six ninety-minute episodes over two series, there are a total of four (loose) mentions of queer characters, only two of which are of any serious importance. – [Queer Identities in Sherlock: A Study in Embarrassing Failures]

BBC Sherlock is Racist

However, in a text so concerned with updating the Victorian source material to the contemporary period, there is very little else to the representation of Chineseness; it seems that Sherlock Holmes can use SMS messaging and GPS tracking, but Chinese culture is rendered remarkably narrow via such reductive stereotypes.- [Sherlock and the representation of Chineseness]

Unfortunately Steven Moffat, who definitely has a problem with racism – his “modern” Holmes has faced down the Yellow Peril (“Blind Banker”) and dressed like a scimitar-waving Lawrence of Arabia to rescue Irene Adler in some sinister Middle-Eastern locale (“Scandal in Belgravia”) – focuses on the “exotic travels abroad” hiatus story instead of coming up with another reason for Holmes’ disappearance. So the first thing we see in the mini-sode is a montage that boils down to the Great White Detective benevolently lending his skills to bewildered and grateful brown foreigners. – [It’s official: Elementary has spoiled me for Sherlock BBC’s casual racism.]

Given that Sherlock Holmes – the master detective who possesses the power to bring duplicitous people to their knees just through the power of his insight – then why as a character could he not ‘see through’ the obvious anti-Chinese racism that appeared throughout the script of the 2010 episode of Sherlock entitled ‘The Blind Banker’ (S1E2)? – [Sherlock Could Not See Through the Racism]

This is the crap that Steve Thompson’s script for TBB gave everyone to work with: Soo Lin Yao, a fragile little porcelain Chinese doll; a stupid brute of a Sikh warrior; Japanese geisha nicknacks for sale in a Chinese…not a shop…the script calls it an emporium… The script also tells the production designer to put up images of every non-Western character set that comes to mind (as if Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t know the difference between Greek and Chinese and Hebrew and Arabic and … ancient hieroglyphics!?) – [A Strange Yellow Squiggle: Racism in The Blind Banker]

Suddenly, my heart sinks and I realise it’s all Black Lotus, Tongs (you should see my Terror of the Curling Tongs), drugs and torture. For are we not a cruel race, as the clever programme-makers have noticed? A series of killings and a trail of yellow-themed clues lead our intrepid heroes into the dangers of Soho Chinatown where even the shop assistants are … sinister. – [Sherlock and wily orientals: Blind Banker, Episode 2 review]

You can also check out [this gifset] by @heroscafe, which shows the most important people of color in the first season of BBC Sherlock. For reference, the most important people of color in S1 are:

  • Ella Thompson, a black therapist who gets around two minutes of screentime and who Sherlock calls an idiot.
  • Sally Donovan, a black detective who gets something like five minutes of screentime and is constantly demeaned and insulted by Sherlock in her few scenes.
  • Soo Lin Yao, the Chinese girl described as a “fragile little doll”, who dies.
  • A couple nameless Chinese villains who end up all dead.
  • A black guard of the palace who has like five minutes on screen and nearly dies.

I’m not gonna bother showing you screencaps of the show because it’s been years since I blissfully deleted all my pirated episodes of BBC Sherlock from my hard-drive, but if you really don’t yet believe that it’s a pile of flaming shit, I challenge you to go look through the show and screencap the crowd scenes during the show.

You’ll find that, except for the racist episode in China Town and the racist episode in the Middle East, all group shots/crowd shots are compromised nearly entirely of white people, with next to no people of color even in the background.

This is in itself racist, since the official demographics for London show that at least 40% (nearly half!) of the city is inhabited by people of color. [link] The construction of a reality where people of color should exist yet they are magically erased for no reason other than Moffat not wanting to have brown and black faces visible in his scenes is racist.

BBC Sherlock is also ableist and has abuse apologia

Today we understand that both the early-years environment and genetics play a role in the development of psychopathic personality disorder. Sociopathy as a term is defunct – please stop using it, Sherlock, psychiatry has moved on. – [Dear Sherlock, stop calling yourself a sociopath!]

So, Elementary fandom has talked about gaslighting before, and how it is used in abusive relationships. We’ve seen Irene/Moriarty do this to Sherlock in Elementary, and the same pattern appears in the newly-aired Sherlock with Sherlock and John. – [This gifset] by @stardust-rain shows how BBC!Sherlock is an abuser, which is never acknowledged in-show (unlike Elementary!Moriarty, who is explicitly described as an abuser repeatedly).

Other good reads

There are many things wrong with the BBC’s TV show “Sherlock.” People have been blinded by its lead actors and cinematography for too long. Underneath the admittedly stunning scenery and strong start, Sherlock is sexist and homophobic. – [What You Don’t Realize About Sherlock]

A brief glimpse of the new Sherlock trailer may have sent the internet into a frenzy (admittedly, much of it over John Watson’s moustache – WTF, John?) but, in what feels like a very long absence, has the BBC show’s claim to be the ultimate modern day Holmes been usurped by a pretender from overseas? It may seem heresy even to ask – but is Elementary actually better than Sherlock? – [Why ELEMENTARY Is Better Than SHERLOCK]

By the time I decided to finally watch Elementary rather than just make jokes at its expense, the entire first season had aired. Like Sherlock, Elementary season 1 was concerned with establishing the relationship between Holmes and Watson, and the villainy of Moriarty. On both fronts, it was vastly superior. – [Why ‘Elementary’ is better than ‘Sherlock’]

When Elementary premiered on CBS back in 2012, it drew heavy comparisons to BBC’s Sherlock. Sherlock’s rabid fans were not too pleased that there would be another Holmes-based series on television. They bashed the premise for being a rip-off (how you can rip off an interpretation of an iconic character in literature is beyond me) and the casting choices. However after watching three seasons of Elementary, I can firmly say that it is miles better than Sherlock for a couple of reasons. – [WHY ELEMENTARY IS BETTER THAN SHERLOCK]


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