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and I didn’t like it.
I think genderswapping Watson was a mistake.
I know a lot of people who think that have been accused of being misogynists and/or racists by feminist tumblr and who knows maybe they are. Certainly the outcry when it was announced, before they’d even seen a promo let alone an episode, was probably coming from a bad place of “you can’t do that because it’s always been this way.” But having seen it now I was not impressed.
Here’s why: it’s nowhere near as amazingly groundbreaking as the creators no doubt believe. In fact it’s a total cliche.
This’ll be a rant, so
Teaming a mad, crazy, brilliant, quirky, unconventional, idiosyncratic, not like-the-other-cops, non-cop man with a no-nonsense, by-the-book, wet-blanket lady? That’s EVERY non-CSI procedural on TV right now!
It’s Castle, it’s The Mentalist, it’s Lie to Me, it’s a little bit of Bones, it’s everything going back via Law and Order Criminal Intent and Life to a little show called Monk, which was also a show about an OCD consultant and his helper monkey.
It’s always the same, these brilliant men can single-handedly solve a crime by standing in a room and cocking their heads and emotionally pushing witnesses’ buttons and the woman is just there to follow the rules, remind the man to follow the rules, grumble when the man doesn’t follow the rules and then clean up his mess afterwards and congratulate him because all is forgiven.
It’s a show I might watch if I have nothing better to do. But it’s on the same time as Downton now, so that won’t be for the foreseeable future. It’s not going to hurt, it’s just murder-of-the-week. Using my brilliant powers of deduction and knowledge of TV cliches though, I know they’re going to throw in some kind of ongoing mystery to keep us watching every week and give the hero drive and/or angst and that’s the woman whose departure from Sherlock’s life got him on drugs. Sherlock won’t get addicted to drugs just because some girl dumps him, no, this woman departed by being murdered. No doubt by a criminal mastermind named Moriarty. GOD HELP ME IF HER NAME WAS IRENE ADLER I WILL SMASH SOMETHING. He’s probably only really in New York following a lead! Adler was American after all. Elementary, my dear Watson.
Monk’s wife was murdered. Life’s wife was murdered AND he went to jail wrongly for it, The Mentalist’s WHOLE FAMILY was murdered, noticing a pattern here? At least Castle’s wife wasn’t murdered, they switched it up and had Beckett’s mum be the murdered female family member. And Elementary thinks it’s doing something new.
I saw a lot of people on Tumblr write off Sherlock and even Doctor Who after the Scandal in Belgravia episode of Sherlock because of how the Irene Adler character was handled and/or because of statements Steven Moffat made because her power was sexual not intellectual. And then a lot of these same people were fawning over Elementary when they cast Lucy Liu like that made it automatically not sexist. But if Irene Adler is already dead, they’ve taken the best female character in the franchise and fridged her sight unseen which is such a waste. We see neither Sherlock’s intellectual equal/better nor someone with sexual power, we just get a dead body. I’m sure Sherlock will tell us (Watson) how great she was, but we won’t get to see! She exists solely to die, to make Sherlock more interesting and Moriarty look evil and make it personal. That’s textbook Women in Refrigerators. We don’t even see it onscreen because it’s all a catalyst for Sherlock to be in New York with a babysitter and an angsty new backstory that just screams “I’m not like the other Sherlocks!” Instead he’s just like every other male protagonist ever and I don’t think a female partner goes far enough to make up for that.
Overall it is a well-enough made TV show that you will find entertaining if you have an hour to kill, but it offers nothing new to a world that already has a modern-day Sherlock Holmes series on TV, a movie franchise and Castle. Unfortunately it looks like it includes sexist tropes that undo any good done in genderswapping Watson.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆