Saturday, July 24, 2010

New BBC Sherlock Holmes Hints at a Gay Angle

A BBC series of three ninety minute Sherlock Holmes television shows hints at gayness but does not 'go all the way'.  The new miniseries moves Sherlock Holmes and Watson to present day London.  Not in the time travel sense but as a translation of the characters to modern day equivalents.  For example Watson is fresh back from a tour in Afghanistan.  Sherlock Holmes is played by Benedict Cumberbatch, and Dr. Watson by Martin Freeman.

The homosexual appearance of their partnership leads to a few jokes and allusions to gay romance but it seems that the closest Holmes ever gets is saying: "Girlfriend, no. Not really my area" and also* "John, I think you should know I consider myself married to my work and while I am flattered by your interest, I am really not looking for anyone."

It seems that the gay angle is played mainly for laughs--and some see this not as a bow to homosexal possibilities, but treating homosexuality as a joke.

Given that I am trapped on the other side of the pond, it is likely to be a while before I get to see this series--guest reviews would be welcome.

See also:
* edited for accuracy


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I hope some UK watchers say how they like it. I can hardly wait for it to air here in America. I'm glad that they're willing to joke about them being mistaken for a gay couple, instead of ignoring how things have changed since Victorian times. It'd be like some of the House/Wilson jokes, and great slashy fun can be had, if only in our minds.

Emily Veinglory: said...

It looks like a pretty good show--but I wonder when a Sherlock Holmes TV portrayal will finally go all the way gay.

Anonymous said...

Very good show, reminds me of an adult version of Dr Who. (Steven Moffat is writer and now Executive Producer of Dr Who)

Your quotes both come from the same scene, in an Italian restaurant. The waiter knows Sherlock, and when then arrives goes off to fetch a 'romantic candle' (despite Watson's protests).

They is a similar reference in an earlier scene, as Watson is looking round 221B Baker Street and considering moving in:
Mrs Hudson: "There's another bedroom upstairs, if you need it"
Watson: "Of course I'll need it"

Emily Veinglory: said...

My mistake! I wish I could see it :(

Anonymous said...

Hellooo, have you people forgotten about youtube? It's on there for those of you who want to watch it.

Emily Veinglory: said...

I choose not to stream or download pirated material.

Jodie said...

Thanks for the link to my post! Masterpiece is bringing it to the US apparently (well wiki says so, hopefully it is right). Short follow uppy thoughts on the other two episodes coming soon, but for now I'll just say the second episode was just awful in my opinion but the third is much better and there is some very slasheriffic fun to be had (although yes it does seem like the gay references are being played for titillating laughs, which I am bored of).

Anonymous said...

Actually Steven Moffat said the reason he included the references to them being gay was because he liked the idea that in the modern day a lot of people would look at them and think they were a couple and not be disaproving. Its, at least partially about showing people's open mindedness towards homosexuality. Of course some of it is played for laughs, but when I watched it I felt it was more about everyone thinking they're in a relationship as opposed to the fact that they are both men.

(sorry for typos by the way, on phone at midnight)

Anonymous said...

It is hinted gay, but not negatively, people who think that should watch it again. In it Holmes and Watson's characterization, is much more balenced in terms of a relationship/friendship, then the underlying sexual frustration of Law and Downy Jr.

Anonymous said...

Sherlock is gay, but Watson is straight.
Think about it.
The three 'gay comments' (in the first ep) were made by Ms Hudson, Mycroft Holms, and the guy at the restaurant. These three people all know Sherlock because he has helped them with cases, and in Mycroft's case there is a family connection. These people know Sherlock is gay and so they assume (perhaps a little hopefully as they know that he's 'married to his work') that maybe Watson is a love interest of his.
Watson is straight though, and Holmes knows this now. It doesn't bother him, but as the series moves on it is likely that that could change. There was the tinniest inclining in the 3rd ep that maybe Sherlock is starting to enjoy having Watson around and that Watson is someone who can actually tolerate him.
Watson doesn't know for sure if Sherlock is gay or not and so naturally he's curious, if in part because then he can feel more secure if he knows. All his attempts to ask seem to come across the wrong way somehow and maybe Sherlock is getting the wrong idea.
Watson is definitely straight because he has been flirting with females and then started dating one. Then we have to consider Sherlock's reaction to that. At the end of the 2nd episode Holmes and Watson are talking and then after a bit of silence Watson says: "You mind, don't you?"
Holmes gives this look as if to say "Yes, a little bit, but not really, and the thing I mind about have something to do with you and so I am surprised you might have noticed and are mentioning it."
Then Watson goes on to say that he was referring to the escape of the criminal and Sherlock suddenly becomes very unconcerned and uninterested. So then what did Holmes mind about?

In conclusion: Holmes is gay and Watson is straight, but maybe Holmes will slowly begin to get interested in Watson.

Anonymous said...

that's a very interesting theory, i have also been thinking about those conversations too and how everyone that knows Holmes assumes that he is gay. Though it might also be that because Holmes is such a seclude and is not in any kind of relationship (or may never had one)they all automaticaly assume that he is gay and therefor send those references through to us, to make us assume that he is gay. Holmes would be a very difficult boyfriend so i imagine not many girlfriends (or boyfriends for that matter) would be able to live with him for very long.

Anonymous said...

I noticed that too.
What's more: when Ms. Hudson makes that comment about 'if you'll be needing two beds' Sherlock didn't say anything. Not even a quick 'Ms. Hudson, I thought you knew me better than that.'

We've also seen how Sherlock normally responds to relationship stuff. When he became aware that Molly was interested in him he didn't even acknowledge it; just found a way to act oblivious and get out of it. Rather rude.
However, that scene in the restaurant where he tells Watson that he's married to his work and all, well he took a different approach then didn't he? He let John down gently when he could have just pretended to be oblivious.

And another thing, surly he would know if Watson was gay or straight. He can pickup on that stuff. How could he have gotten Watson wrong then? Maybe because he likes Watson and that little it could never work line was more to deter himself from the idea, hmm?

Anonymous said...

I think Mycrofts comments are the most informative. You could say that Ms. Hudson and Angelo has make a mistake regarding Sherlock's sexuality, however I'm sure that Mycroft would know.
Mycroft's first comment in ep1 about 'are we to expect a happy announcement by the end of the week?' could have been just being annoying or whatever, but then in the 3rd ep...when they're sitting in 221B with the windows smashed in and Mycroft is talking about how John and Sherlock are 'pals'. He says it rather sarcastically.
I could easily imagine that conversation before Watson came in. Mycroft asking Sherlock where his 'flatmate' is. Sherlock saying he's at his girlfriend's place. Mycroft shaking his head and telling Sherlock he really needs to get into a relationship because he's driving everyone nuts.

That's the thing. Sherlock if gay, but it doesn't really matter because he's not into relationships anyway.

Anonymous said...

lol, don't stream or download pirated material ... best.comment.ever.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, that was quite dull of you. Haven't you some comment upon the actual matter?

Small things amuse small minds, I suppose. Now I'd best be off to check on my uTorrent downloads.

Emily Veinglory: said...

I am not sure, whether you are for or against, that piracy is a 'small thing'.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

sherlock is asexual and not into sex or relationships and all that stuf
but everybody is usually one way inclind so thats what has to be addresed

on the one hand theres a scale that goes from MEN on one end and WOMEN on the other end
then theres a second scale that goes from SEXMANIAC down to ASEXUAL

i think sherlocks interested in men more than women but not really interested in sex at all because its like food and sleep just another one of those human needs that he doesnt have so strongly and doesnt want to bother with

watson is average interest in women i think

omigod people talk more this thread is slow

Anonymous said...

i agree that sherlock doesn't seem to be interested in relationships with anyone. i don't really think of him as sexual person at all, and on the rare occasion that i do i usually see him as straight. Most likely because i'm a girl and, well... he's freaking adorable. Although there are all of the various comments that make it seem very plausible that he's gay, there's also encounter with the villan in episode 3 who slipped sherlock his # and throughout the encounter sherlock seemed a little gruff if not a bit rude? He tolerates flirting with women... although quite awkwardly. so it is really something difficult to decide.

Anonymous said...

Sherlock is a Sociopath!
There are two kinds of Sociopath, passive and aggressive.
Passive Sociopaths don't like sex where as aggressive sociopaths cant get enough of it.
Sherlock is a passive one.
But in these cases there is still an underlying sexuality (straight, gay, bi, whatever) it's just that they prefer not to act on it.

When it comes to relationships there are usually four things people consider.
What gender they like hanging out with? (straight male = male)
What gender they like connecting emotionally with (straight male = female)
What gender they like having sex with (straight male = female)
What gender they want to raise kids with (straight male = female)

So, you can see Sherlock has removed 'sex' and 'kids' from the equation, and possibly even 'emotion'. Thus, he spends all this time with men. So he could be straight, or gay really, but it doesn't matter.

Anonymous said...

Yay for netflix!

Jake from SLC, UT said...

I think Sherlock is gay for sure. It may be some wishful thinking on my part, as I am a gay male in my 20s living in Utah, and WANT the hero to be gay, but...

In addition to the many little comedic assumptions about Sherlock and Watson being a couple by those that know Sherlock, there is another scene that really adds to it, but it is a SPOILER!!

When Moriarty first meets Sherlock in the lab at the hospital, he pretends to be gay, and leaves Sherlock his number. Moriarty obviously knows his man, and is trying to open up another line of communication in addition to (or perhaps as part of) their ongoing game.

So yes, this is one of the few cases in mainstream entertainment where I don't have to pretend the main character is gay because he is. Hooray! :D

Anonymous said...

I've just tuned in and I think there's some interesting stuff from the second season worth mentioning.


So 'The Woman'.
She's gay but she's interested in Sherlock.
John is straight but (arguably) interested in Sherlock also.

Because 'attraction' consists of many thing.
1 - sex
2 - brain
3 - companion

Bit hard to understand...okay...

Let's look at Adler.
She says she's gay so that means that she likes women over men. But hang on...she's 'in love' with Sherlock who is male. And she has sex with everyone, male or female.
Well that's it.
She likes sex so much that she isn't too fussy. Sex attraction = both.
Brain attraction = male, however, perhaps because males have more logical 'crime solving' brains (generally) and that's what she's into.
However, for a companion she keeps a female, which is when she lets her guard down a bit. Because sex and flirting are 'on the job' but then at home she's more relaxed and doesn't want to do work. It's then she takes a female and that's why she calls herself gay. Because even though she will have sex with men and is more attracted to the male mind, she prefers the company of a female.

This is either her definition of sexuality, or it's the writers' definition of sexuality. Or both.

So if we look at Sherlock the same way...
Sex - none. No sex. None. Adler is into sex alot - he's into sex not at all.
Brain - he also prefers the male mind. He dislikes women and is often shown to think them stupid and over emotional (men too sometimes, but more often women). Also, liking very much the 'logical' mind which is (more commonly) found in men. This is perhaps his attraction to Adler, because although she would put him off with her 'sex' he is attracted to her male mind. She's perhaps the smartest person he's met besides Mycroft (who he doesn't like much) and Moriarty (who is trying to kill him and John). So of course he's interested in her. But not for sex. The physical doesn't matter.
But then...companionship...Well you immediately say he hangs around with John (and other guys, no females) so he's gay. Well...don't forget Mrs. Hudson. He likes Mrs. Hudson because she tolerates him I think, and that's probably what he's after in a companion. Not someone who's always wanting something or nagging to telling him what to do or being annoying or being stupid. Mrs. Hudson let's him be himself (sometimes) and puts up with him. John, also, puts up with him and (sometimes) let's him be himself.

So...I don't know...think about's really up to you...

Anonymous said...

Nobody "knows" Sherlock, He is a secret we will never know everything about him.

Anonymous said...

Shurlock is slightly autistic, and a savant. Which is why he notices everything and is able to decode environmental and intellectual data effortlessly. However being able to read people emotionally, not so much and that is why he depends on Dr. Watson to clue him in on real time personal interactions. Watson runs interference for him. Is this co-dependent behavior why we think they might be gay? Admit it, that's it. Shurlock is straight but feelings are difficult for him. Yet it is this detachment that allows him to be so observant and astute. Imagine the pain of struggling with this disability all his life. He is out of his depth and has avoided becoming involved because he knows it is his blind spot. He is going to have to really want someone to take the risk; enter Irene Adler. She is a true beauty and when she tells him that brainy is the new sexy he stumbles over his words, very out of character for him. At first I didn't see the sizzle between them but when I watched it again oh yeah it's there. She has tremendous sexual history he has none. They are both in have very tough shells created by personal histories that we can only imagine. Intimacy is painful for both of them. Clearly, she didn't find her line of work by accident. Vulnerability is the hot issue, pun intended. I hope she comes back. Great chemistry, handled with sophistication. Highly dimensional characters, excellent dialogue. Now Mycroft he is gay.

Vickie Sparks said...

Whenever they are discussing this issue and Sherlock tells Watson that he is flattered, but married to his work, Watson tells him that it's ' fine. It's ALL fine." That leads me to believe that he might just be bisexual. Just an opinion.

Vickie Sparks said...

Meaning that WATSON might just be bisexual, that is.


cloakstone69 said...

Jake from Utah, I have a feeling you might be in men and women will finally get the Happily Ever After they've been waiting for.

Everyone, posterity thanks you for your comments.

Anonymous said...

Sherlock is not gay. He is a virgin. During the second season he fell in love with a woman.