Look at us both in love with Sherlock

When I first watched Sherlock’s second series premiere, I was so caught up in the pretty and the dialogue that I could only gush at how good it was, despite some minor issues.

Those minor issues have festered and now are infuriating.

Much of my objections revolve around the elevation of Sherlock to almost godly levels. I’m not going to make accusations of sexism or Marty Stuism but I do wonder at Moffat’s reasoning for the absolute slaughter of Irene Adler’s character.

Surprisingly, I do not actually have an issue with the “de-gaying” of Adler–as I’ve seen it described–for Sherlock in itself. Sexuality is fluid, after all, and who am I to say somebody can’t love somebody of a certain sex? But, I very much doubt this was a rare attempt at showing bisexuality on television or about sexuality at all so much as about Sherlock: “Look how irresistible he is! Straight men are in love with him! Gay women are besotted with him!” If anything, her being gay just added to Sherlock’s mythos. It wasn’t enough to have her be interested in him; she had to be a lesbian too.

What really got to me, though, was the change in Adler herself and the ending. Doyle’s Adler proved herself smarter than Sherlock and high-minded enough to not exploit the King’s picture for personal gain nor take revenge on him or Sherlock.

Moffat’s Adler, on the other hand, does very much intend to use what she has gotten by misbehaving for huge personal gain in addition to helping terrorists and known murderer Moriarty. Not only is her character ruined but she is defeated by Sherlock, forced to beg, and then in the final insult, must be saved by the magnanimous Sherlock. Which results in him not only being the secret hero again, but with the added bonus of fooling Mycroft, apparently the only one who can do so. Another case of placing Sherlock above those who were, in the book, smarter than him.

I very much do understand that the new series isn’t meant to be an adaptation but loosely based on the originals, perhaps with tongue-in-cheek references, but mostly completely updated. But this was something core to Sherlock Holmes, a rival he could not beat and did not need to. Moriarty may have been his nemesis but Irene Adler was his unequivocal superior. For her relatively brief appearance, she remains one of the most interesting literary heroines and it is sad that a man in the 19th century wrote a stronger female than one in 2011.