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 sociopath (high-functioning or otherwise)
I pretend no expertise in the field of psychology; still, I must insist that this self-applied moniker for Sherlock is far from accurate.
He exhibits the basic features of this disorder, but he does so only on paper. For instance, Sherlock is intelligent and calculating, but his work necessitates the ability to undo extensive problems, to experiment, to be steps ahead of the criminals he opposes; he could never have triumphed over Moriarty and his network otherwise.
Further, he often seems to be without empathy, like in “The Great Game” when he barks at a distraught old woman who’s just had two students kidnapped; but that would not explain his shame after humiliating Molly Hooper at Christmas, leading him to sincerely apologize.
He even seems to be manipulative and conning, as his would-be fiance Janine well knows, but his motivation for making her his girlfriend is in no way self-serving; his actions are entirely to help another (Lady Smallwood) and to serve the greater good (by neutralizing the reptilian Charles Magnussen).
In contrast, when Janine sells him out to the press (when he is near-dead in the hospital), she makes up lies about him and does so solely for personal gain. Really, which is the more aberrant and destructive?