Warning: full of spoilers, don’t read if you haven’t watched the show yet
I was a bit late joining the BBC Sherlock bandwagon, but I finally managed to catch up the winter before Series 3 incepted. Even though I wasn’t yet a member of the Sherlock fan-base, or ‘fandom’, if you will, I had heard a lot about the show- if you spend as long as I do on the Internet, it is practically impossible not to. I, therefore, knew all about the show’s heartthrob, the high-cheekboned, light-eyed Benedict Cumberbatch, the various metas and the numerous theories about how Sherlock survived the fall from London’s Bart’s Hospital in the last episode of series two, all before I even started watching.
But I wasn’t aware of the blatant sexism and heterocentrism in the show’s co-creator, Steven Moffat’s writing until I started watching the episode, A Scandal in Belgravia. As a lover of Conan Doyle’s Holmes, I adored the portrayal of Irene Adler, the woman and ‘the dominatrix who brought an entire nation to its knees’. I thought Lara Pulver was absolutely gorgeous and fit the bill of the role perfectly. That is, until the episode drew to a close.
I confess that I didn’t understand the last ten minutes at first. She was supposed to be a lesbian! It had been established in the earlier part of the episode that Irene Adler was a homosexual woman, and I didn’t understand what was going on. It didn’t occur to me that the show’s creator had just made a lesbian somehow miraculously reaffirm her heterosexuality by falling in love with the show’s hero- it was too bogus a thought, of course.
It was only after I logged on and found the many online Sherlock forums did I begin to comprehend what had really happened. After searching a bit more, I found this post, and I realised that it wasn’t the first time a stunningly complex character had been mindlessly bastardized by poor writing.
I also feel that taking a mysterious, dynamic character like Irene Adler and making her somehow impossibly fall in love with the protagonist is nothing short of a literary crime. Not only is it incredibly frivolous to do so, seeing how she is a homosexual woman, but it’s also an insult to the LGBT+ community, who don’t get much representation in media and literature as it is. To worsen matters, here was a writer, writing a lesbian character, but instead of giving her the characterization she deserves, he was making her perform biological miracles by falling for a member of the opposite sex.
In my opinion, had the last ten minutes of the episode been completely deleted, it would have been a real winner. By continuing to show Irene Adler as an enigma, a force to be seriously reckoned with, is the only way the character of the Woman could have been given the kind of respect and honour she unarguably deserves.