December 26th, 2013


an ambivalence of sherlocks

I liked the first series of Sherlock. I liked it a lot. Maybe I just needed a new fandom at the time or maybe I was more willing to cut the show some slack, but it was my jam. There was a charm and cleverness to it, and it was high on its own fannish joy at playing with the Sherlock mythos. The racism was pretty egregious, and the treatment of female characters was dismissive at best. But all pop culture is about tradeoffs when it comes to social justice things. You make your own peace with it.

The second series of Sherlock was a far different story. The charm seemed to fade into a certain kind of smugness that was present during the first series, but not quite as obvious or annoying. The female characters were shit on more often. Irene Adler was pretty much wasted in favor of a faux edginess that is always grating. The show decided to wallow in its cleverness, just in case we didn't realize how clever it was the first time around. It felt like a bunch of dudes jerking off to how awesome Sherlock is all the time without the care or the thoughtfulness to make an interesting character portrait. My viewings of the show went from 'viewings' to 'hatewatches' very quickly. There were still things to enjoy. Martin Freeman's Watson still remains delightful, and the cinematography is, as always, gorgeous. The gleeful energy of the series still caries through, but I just couldn't let it pull me along.

Elementary, though with plenty of faults of its own, is so much better at the nuanced character work. It doesn't have the energy of Sherlock. I have a hard time following it from week to week, because the procedural nature of the thing can drag it down. But it is a careful show, and watching the relationships and storylines unfold with precision is extremely delightful.

I am still trying to decide whether or not I'm going to watch the next series of Sherlock. I can already tell that the things I hated about the second season are still going to be there if not worse. I know that if I do watch it, my past bitterness will make it difficult for me to move on to what is actually worthwhile. And yet, I still feel an obligation to see it through to the end. I know it's not particularly rational, but I still want to.

I watched the 7 minute minisoide of Sherlock yesterday, and I ended up tuning out about half of it because the circlejerk over Sherlock was back up and running again, but there was still that magic moment of Watson in the room, quiet and alone in his thoughts.

I still don't know if I'm going to watch the next series.

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