Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the No-Good Argument

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10:15 am EDT, January 10, 2014

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.

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