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Genius Misunderstood: What Sherlock Holmes is Not

By on December 15, 2016
Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes | Photo credit BBC

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes | Photo credit BBC

By Chris B.

Early next year, the award-winning BBC series Sherlock makes its return.

If you’re disinclined to follow this iteration of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective, you are missing out.  Not only have you denied yourself the unadulterated pleasure of watching the magic between Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch, you’ve sidestepped the quality writing and excellent storytelling of Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat that has kept this series a hit, despite its painfully extended breaks in the ultra-saturated marketplace of television.

A key reason to watch is, of course, the characters; Holmes and Watson have been the prototypical pair for nearly every detective duo that has tumbled after them.  However, this has occasionally led to misconceptions about them.  Legends tend to morph over time, lessening their appeal, and if the audience doesn’t like the characters, they will tune out and never look back.

Sherlock has cultivated a reputation as a less than stellar person—cold, cruel, and untenable.  But this assessment is anything but true.  What follows are top five misconceptions about the world’s best known—and least understood—detective.

He’s not a misogynist

It is a popular misconception that Sherlock Holmes has contempt for the fairer sex; realistically, this may have been the case with the original, but as “The Abominable Bride” confirms, the same can be said for every Victorian man.  This is not so for the modern version.

This Sherlock has contempt, to be sure.  He has contempt for a lot of people, but his disdain does not discriminate based on gender.  His verbal skewers are for anyone who aggravate him with inefficiency and stupidity.  Thus, while she’s stunning, the draw of Irene Adler is not her looks; though her audacious nude entrance in “A Scandal in Belgravia” renders him momentarily tongue-tied, he is most in awe of the fact that she presents a mental challenge.

When he looks at her, he is incapable of breaking down her secrets; when she lags and wants him to explain the death of the hiker, he chastises her:  “You cater to the whims of the pathetic and take your clothes off to make an impression; stop boring me and think.” 

He seems to ascribe to Ms. Adler’s assertion that “brainy is the new sexy,” and by not using her natural intelligence, she is denying her real worth.

Sherlock

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