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Coming from a Greek family, I use feta cheese a lot. Now, I know not everyone enjoys feta, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it.

Even so, sometimes I want to mix things up and try different cheeses. Has anyone ever tried to convince me that I can’t do that? Has anyone ever said, “Hey! You can’t like that other cheese because it’s not feta”?

No, because that would be stupid.

Simply put: we’re free to enjoy as many types of cheeses as we wish, even if some cheeses are not as good as others.

The same, then, goes for TV shows.

The constant conflict between fans of BBC’s Sherlock and CBS’ Elementary, the two newest versions of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, hasn’t stopped since the latter was announced. As a fan of the BBC show, I admit to being skeptical, worried that Lucy Liu’s casting as Joan Watson would lead to an overdone will they/won’t they relationship. But I gave the show a chance, ended up loving it, and now I get to enjoy two different shows about the world’s most famous detective.

Based on fandom reaction, however, that doesn’t seem to be right. Many Sherlock fans seem to believe that the American series is “ripping off” the BBC one; others seem to be really pissed off about two huge roles being gender-swapped. Elementary fans, on the other hand, point out the problematic aspects of Sherlock; a common argument seems to be that Elementary is the moral choice.

Or, the TL;DR version: a common fandom belief is that you can like one of the shows, but not the other.

You should not need anyone to tell you that it is okay to like two different TV shows, you do not have to choose between them. You can like Sherlock, or you can like Elementary, or you can even like both.

There have been a number of adaptations based on Sherlock Holmes, to claim that one rips the other off because they air at the same time is ridiculous. The source material hasn’t changed, it’s how each adaptation handles the material that creates something new and interesting. At the same time, preferring a show that’s less problematic does not give you moral high-ground. In a perfect world, fans would recognize and point out problematic aspects of a show, but unfortunately, that’s not always going to happen. Issues such as the representation of women and race are, of course, valid reasons to not like a show, but watching a problematic show does not make someone a shitty person – if that were the case, there wouldn’t be much left to watch.

Neither show is perfect, but both are so fun to watch. Sherlock is clever and suspenseful, with incredible performances by Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and the rest of the cast. Elementary is smart, Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu are fantastic together, and it’s doing something completely different with the source material.

But I didn’t write this intending to determine which show is the better one – that’s an entirely different post.

Don’t argue with, or shame, or disrespect someone for enjoying something. With the return of Sherlock, I’ve seen far too much of that recently. Fans don’t have to choose, nor do they have to worship both shows.

Do, however, feel free to debate between quality of the shows, because that’s always fun for a TV lover.

Originally posted on my blog.

This article was written by a Hypable user! Learn more and write your own right here.

  • Kati

    I watch both but when Elementary fans start pulling out the “moral” BS card, I feel like dropping the show out of spite – not that anybody would care – because when a group of obsessive fans starts implying I’m morally corrupt for not liking their show best, it sucks all the fun out of actually watching it. Especially when they point out the “problematic” parts of Sherlock while forgetting the “problematic” parts of their own series (Joan Watson as a decorated war hero? No, a failed surgeon! If that’s not sexism right there.) So yeah.

    • CliveRogan

      I’m not sure I’d call it exactly sexist. It’s not like she’s a failed
      air hostess or something, her being a failure is an issue but I’d say
      that’s more a result of them having to stretch her character out enough
      to fill 24 episodes a year.

      I do generally like the show, and
      it’s definitely better than most procedural crime dramas but it having
      to churn out so many episodes leaves it being incredibly bland. With
      Sherlock, each episode is an event, both in universe and out.
      Elementary feels like all of the stories that Sherlock references having
      happened but didn’t actually show as they’re not important or
      interesting enough to tell.

      That being said I agree with the
      unfairness in comparisons. The shows service different needs, and
      there’s more than enough room for both without starting a war.

      • Kati

        I meant that they could have made a woman, a female character, a war hero – how many female war heroes are there exactly on TV? – and yet, they made her a common surgeon who botched a simple, everyday surgery. Her being a war veteran would’ve been Holmes canon and yet they “downgraded” her, so to speak. And, IMO, that’s quite sexist, considering they were handed a female soldier who took a bullet for her comrades on a silver platter and yet they made her someone who was sued and convicted of malpractice (sorry if that’s not the correct word, I’m not a native English speaker).

        Yet again a woman plays a part where she needs to be taught the trade. If she were a soldier, she could’ve taught Sherlock how to fight and he could’ve taught her how to investigate. It would’ve been balanced. As it is, she’s the “padawan” who humanizes the mad genius, quite a cliché part for a woman.

        • wizardheart83

          but she does learn, joan is taking what she knows and bringing it to cases and using sherlock’s skills in her own way. john humanizes bbc sherlock too. in the long run both john and joan kick so much ass and regardless of service history, they’re both pretty awesome.

          • Kati

            My point was that they could have made her a war hero and they didn’t. If there was one woman set up as a war hero on TV – canonically too! – it was Joan Watson. She should have been a veteran, a doctor or at least a medic – and yet, she isn’t. Why? I want to know one reason why a character that was canonically a war veteran suddenly became someone with a failed career when he turned into she.

            And Joan shouldn’t have to just learn, that’s a cliché part for a female character these days because it’s that way in 9 cases out of 10. She should be able to teach Sherlock something too, not just humanize him, that’s what Lisbon (The Mentalist), Sharona (Monk) and plethora of other female characters do, that’s what their usual role is on TV, to be the empathic one.

            Justi imagine a soldier Joan teaching Sherlock how to use a batton, how to kick ass, now to shoot… Or yet better, imagine Lucy Liu as Shirley or Charlotte Holmes.

            So yeah, I know that Elementary fanatics like to pretend their show is very progressive – but it really isn’t all that ground breaking. I love that it features transgender actors and I adore Lucy Liu but they could’ve been a cutting edge show, yet they slid back into the “mad genius with issues – female partner who humanizes him” cliché. And that’s too bad.

    • Jen V.

      I’ve not seen Elementary so I’m not sure what the moral argument is against Sherlock. Can you fill me in? (I’m not being sarcastic or anything. I’ve seen people in the comments bashing both shows but I haven’t heard anything about the morality of Sherlock so I’m honestly just wondering what the argument is.) Thanks in advance!! :)
      Also – would you recommend Elementary? I see previews for it all the time but haven’t actually taken time to watch it.

      • Kati

        They say that BBC’s Sherlock is racist and misogynist.

        I would say that Elementary is your average CBS procedural. IMO, it’s no different from The Mentalist (Jane & Lisbon) or Monk (Monk & Sharona): mad male genius humanized by his female sidekick/partner/padawan. For me, it’s pretty much an “out of sight, out of mind show” show like most CBS series.

        • Jen V.


          • Ruthmeb

            They say it is racist and misogynist because it is. Kati clearly favours Sherlock and is trying to minimise its issues under the guise of impartiality but it’s not a matter merely of taste. (I myself haven’t seen Elementary by the way, only Sherlock). the BBC writers’ treatment of female and minority characters is deeply flawed – stereotyping in particular is rife – simplistic presentation of the “exotic” foreigner and women as basically sex objects or in need of constant rescuing. It’s tedious. You’d expect if of Doyle, but we are in the 21st century now.

          • Alison McRae

            Rubbish, just because you say it is doesn’t make it so. As a woman I do not find it in anyway misogynistic and I’m sick to death of people like you telling me what the hell I should think.

          • Amy

            Complete hogwash. They’ve made Mrs.Hudson incredibly interesting and brave, made Irene Adler as formidable a rival as any male, and created a Molly Hooper who is very importantly average by most standards but key to Sherlocks’ survival. All of this done without making the female characters men, feminism is not about empowerment through masculinity.

          • Holly

            What puts feminism back is the critics who call the Elementary Sherlock having sex with prostitutes and other women he doesn’t care about (you know using women) “edgy” while saying the the BBC’s Irene being a dominatrix at somehow setting feminism back.

  • Donna Harvelle

    Great observation! I think people generally will feel more loyal to whichever show they started watching first. I’m a bigger fan of Sherlock whereas my dad prefers to watch Elementary. You strike some absolutely great points. I do think that the differences in each show provide a significant variation to result in a new exciting experience in either one.

  • TheFirst

    Personally I like both shows. I watched Elementary first and started watching Sherlock just recently (gasp!).

    They’re both pretty fun in their own way. Also, isn’t this a good thing? If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes you’ve got not just one, but TWO shows to enjoy! I’m a big Whovian myself and it would be awesome if there were two Doctor Who shows with each having a different a different version of the Doctor!

  • http://ravenclaw1991.tumblr.com/ ravenclaw1991

    I have no doubt Elementary is a great show. but I don’t think I’ll watch it, at least not anytime soon. If only because I watch enough shows to drive me crazy as it is. I might check it out once everything is on hiatus.

  • shabs

    I like both shows a lot and for different reasons. At first I thought Elementary was drawing a little to much from Sherlock but now it has it’s own groove and is its own identity. Each cast suits the direction of their shows and honestly it’s too bad their around at the same time otherwise there wouldn’t be this “turf war” so to speak. I mean if you like one but maybe have refused to watch the other, give it a try and wirh an open mond maybe you’ll be a fan of both too!

  • Stacie

    Yeah, I enjoy both shows. And I enjoy them for totally different reasons. They each do something different with the characters and the stories.

  • Winkyxx

    BBC for the win!

  • froggyhpmb3

    I just can’t get over the fact that it seems like a drug. I’m addicted to Sherlock and I don’t think that what to me is “fake” Sherlock will cut it.

    I don’t have a problem with other people liking Elementary but to me it’s not the same in terms of how much I like one vs the other.

  • http://hunyumstan.tumblr.com/ hunyum

    here’s my main issue with Elementary – the number of episodes.
    there was a point when i loved elementary and sherlock equally
    but 24 episodes in a season is just TOO much for a detective/cop type show. you exhaust the possibilites too fast. and i feel the quality of this show dwindiling a bit.

  • Charlie

    I agree with this- I’m a little tired of people using one show to bash the other.

    I’ll admit that when Elementary was announced, I was skeptical. Obviously people are free to adapt Sherlock Holmes whenever they want, but the fact that the channel had originally asked to remake Sherlock specifically and been turned down, kind of made it obvious that they were trying to capitialise off of another show. I was also worried about the whole female Watson thing, and her being a disgraced surgeon rather than ex-army.

    But I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen of Elementary, and their Holmes/Watson dynamic seems interesting enough. I like the fact that they’ve decided to emphasize Sherlock’s drug problems. And when the episodes follow a larger story arc they can be really good. But I dislike the fact that the show sometimes just becomes another police procedural, and becomes kind of bland. I’ve seen fans of the original stories criticise it for a few things- like Watson being American, [SPOILERS] or Irene Adler being Moriarty. But I haven’t gotten around to reading the stories yet, so stuff like that doesn’t really bother me (well, maybe the American thing, slightly, but I guess it works within the show). [END SPOILERS]

    I prefer the way Sherlock is filmed, and generally find it more engaging. I prefer having less episodes too.

    There’s been some good acting in both shows as well.

  • Juliana

    I think Elementary has turned out to be sufficiently different for all this fighting to be really unnecessary. However I must admit I am a HUGE fan of Sherlock, and my initial reaction to Elementary was also complete skepticism and a little bit of disdain. But I think at the time it was more than justified because it was clear when they announced it that the producers intentions were not to come out with their own version of Sherlock Holmes but to make their own version of the BBC Sherlock, and it wasn’t until they turned them down that they started working on their own version. Also the whole female Watson thing, as it has already been mentioned, had the terrible potential of becoming just another dreary “will they/will they not” situation. As it stands, Elementary has certainly developed its own personality and it isn’t fair at all for anyone to hate on others just because they happen to like Elementary better than Sherlock, or they only watch Elementary, or they only watch Sherlock, or they watch both. Everyone is entitled to their own taste. I don’t personally really watch Elementary but for when I happen to catch it on TV and there’s nothing else to watch really, but I don’t somehow go around feeling entitled to insult other people because they do enjoy it, and as long as no Elementary fan decides to insult me because I don’t prefer their show and I prefer Sherlock, then I don’t see why we even have to feed all of this irrational bashing at all.

  • http://twitter.com/JonHike jghike

    I adore Sherlock, and I gave Elementary a chance when it began. I love Jonny Lee Miller’s portrayal of the detective, but find myself not able to watch the show because I can’t stand Lucy Liu. I was hesitant about the idea of making Watson a female in the first place, but I think I could’ve handled it if it had been anyone but her. I can’t realy explain it, I just really don’t like her as an actress. But the scenes I’ve seen without her I thought were really good!

  • les342

    I like both these shows, and to throw another wrench into the works, I also love the movies with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law as well. I’ve talked to people who are a lot more versed in the Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes canon that despise those movies, but I love the chemistry between Downey Jr. and Law as Holmes and Watson.

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