Okay. I’m writing this meta sitting on a plane having seen TFP exactly once (in English) and having done a quick Wikipedia refresher on The Importance of Being Earnest after not having read it for 10 years. I’m also typing this on my phone so don’t expect formatting.
We need to add the out of the blue conversation about Oscar Wilde into the pile of “something fucky” about this series. If you can, try to put aside your rage about invoking Oscar’s ghost in this atrocity of an episode and bear with me. And if you’re not in a place to entertain tin foil hat conspiracies, that is absolutely okay.
Premise: My faith in Mark Gatiss is at about zero right now, but I’m still reluctant to believe that Mark would not only draw our attention to this play, by this man, in a show steeped in 1895, when there was absolutely no plot relevant reason to do so other than to get up the hopes of queer viewers and then brutally dash them.
WHY, then. Why any of this.
It could be brutally unnecessary queerbaiting. Or, alternatively: it could be something fucky. (If I’m wrong, then I’ll be the first in line to drag him, btw.)
If you’re not familiar: Wilde was a famous queer dramatist in Victorian London, he was a contemporary and friend of ACD, he wrote awesome queer literature that was too obvious and he was arrested and imprisoned for it (in 1895) which caused his early death. Being Earnest, in particular, is famous for being one of the most blatantly, obviously queer coded works of the Victorian era. It’s in part what got him arrested in the first place. I mean. There’s a character named “bunbury” (just wait for it), and the phrase “Earnest” was itself a code word among the Victorian gay community used to identify one another.
Now. Here’s where the fucky part begins. Being Earnest was written in 1895, the same year Wilde was arrested for aggravated gayness. Drawing attention to this play in particular is now drawing another 1895 parallel in actual BBC Sherlock canon, for better or for worse.
So we’re to believe that for no reason whatsoever, when Sherlock and Mycroft are saying their goodbyes to each other thanks to that idiotic “patience grenade”, that Sherlock finds it necessary to remind Mycroft that he played Lady Bracknell in Being Earnest and that he did a good job of it. Well that’s weird. Until we look up the character synopsis of Lady Bracknell: “the perfect symbol of Victorian earnestness - the belief that style is more important than substance and that social and class barriers are to be enforced.”
SOMETHING’S FUCKY, SOMETHING’S MAJORLY FUCKY. This is a perfect summation of Mycroft’s role in TAB. the perfect image of the establishment. The enemy that must be defeated. It’s also the perfect description of this episode: style over substance, and that social and class barriers (heteronormativity) are to be enforced.
Just for funsies, let’s look up the character synopses for the two main characters of Being Earnest:
John (Jack) Worthing: A young, eligible bachelor about town. His family pedigree is a mystery, but his seriousness and sincerity are evident. He proposes to the honorable Gwendolyn Fairfax, and despite leading a double life, eventually displays his conformity to the Victorian moral and cultural standards. (Holy shit, it’s John.)
Algernon Moncreiff: A languid poser of the leisure class, bored by conventions and looking for excitement. Algernon, unlike Jack, is not serious and generally out for his own gratification. Lady Bracknell is Algernon’s aunt. (Holy shit, it’s Sherlock, down to the funny name.)
And just to round things out, who is Gwendolyn Fairfax, the woman John proposes to? She “believes style is important, not sincerity. She is submissive in public but rebels in private.” This would fit with pre-redemption arc Mary.
The plot of the play is that both Algernon and Jack lead a secret double life using the assumed name “Ernest”. Algernon pretends to have an invalid friend named “bunbury” (ahem) out in the country who he needs to tend to, and uses this as an excuse to avoid social obligations. (This really has shades of sounding like the institutionalized Euros plot?) Jack, meanwhile, escapes his life of duty and responsibility in the countryside and becomes a libertine named Ernest when he goes to the city. (Oh hi, adventure craving John.) Farcical miscommunications happen, blah blah, the play ends with everyone officially named Ernest and everyone happily engaged to be married.
Back to the question, WHY, WHY FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WOULD THEY DO THIS? I think I may have an inkling. Being Earnest is known for two things: being suuuuper gay, and being trivial and farcical to the point that reviewers of the era were hesitant to even give it a shot. The queer coding implications of bringing this in are so obvious it goes without saying, so let’s move on to the farce. Reviewer William Archer said that he enjoyed watching it but found it to be empty of meaning. “What can a poor critic do with a play that raises no principle, whether of art or morals, creates its own canons and conventions, and is nothing but an absolutely willful expression of an irrepressibly witty personality?” Others said “it is of nonsense all compact”, and “the story is almost too preposterous” (to not be a soap opera).
Are these critiques sounding familiar at all??? Long story short: IT’S A LITERAL FARCE.
Lastly, let’s not forget what quote Mycroft actually brings into it: “the pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.” The possible implications of that, I believe, go without saying.
I don’t want to get too far down into the meta rabbit hole because if I’m wrong it would be a waste of my time. But. SOMETHING IS EXTREMELY FUCKY HERE.
If - IF, and I recognize it’s a big if - there is a bigger plan here, our question is why do it this way, why bother with all this. I can think of two potentials: 1) If they’re highlighting the environment that ACD Sherlock was written in to make a larger point about heteronormative culture, or 2) something went wrong at the BBC level and they’re highlighting that we’re still culturally stuck in the same era.
Can we all just agree that there is a strong possibility this reference was written in for some sort of a purpose? Hopefully? Probably? There are too many parallels here and the signaling in the dialogue to this play was too out of place to just drop Wilde’s name for the sake of it? And if they did it just to add to the queer subtext that they’re not going to make use of, this is next level queerbaiting to the extent that I genuinely have a hard time believing Gatiss would allow this to happen? I’m hoping against hope? We know how important Wilde is to Mark as a gay man. If there’s nothing more, then I’ll come back to this topic in the future and pick it apart as free standing queer subtext. This just heightens the stakes of the “brilliance or dumpster fire” quandary we’re staring down right now.
If it were me writing Sherlock (and obviously it’s not, and obviously I don’t trust these guys right now): I would say that it would be a nice touch to update Wilde’s version of being “Ernest” - having to take on an assumed name and a secret double life and hide your queerness under subtext - to the modern queer standard of just “Being Earnest”. As in honest. True to one’s self. Ernest to Earnest.
It’s fucky. It’s just so fucky. What the fuck are they up to, guys.
Nia Long, Garcelle Beauvais, Tina Knowles Lawson & More At 13TH Annual Sunshine Beyond Summer Celebration
Girlfriends Getaway star Garcelle Beauva was looking sexy in her animal-print coverup.
Marsha Ambrosius and Natalie “Floacist” Stewart provided entertainment for the evening, singing a selection of her hits.
Tisha Campbell Martin and her hubby Dwyane got our vote for best looking couple.
Newlyweds Richard and Tina Knowles Lawson posed with Robi. And check out Tina’s outfit! We want to be as “chic” as she is when we grow up.
“Uncle Buck” star Nia Long joined Garcelle for a photo.
As we mentioned earlier, Robi also honored a few of the celebs with the 2015 Sunshine Award for their work in promoting health care and awareness to the community. In addition to AJ Johnson, other receipients were Boris and Nicole Kodjoe, Brandee Evans, Daphne Wayans, Dolvett Quince, Dondre Whitfield, Salli Richardson Whitfield, Eva Marcille, Gwendolyn Smith, John Salley, Michael Blanks, and Wesley Jonathan.
Oh, how I’d love a mini-episode a week after The Final Problem airs where it’s just those two solving crimes together, established relationship, and their cases are plot lines derived from our fanfiction.
“Come, John! The Game is ON. I laid out your outfit!” ***cut to John in their room holding up a deep V-neck Tee*** “Sherlock, I am NOT wearing this, I don’t care if this is what people wear nowadays.” “But it’s FOR A CASE.”
“Come, John! Dame Gwendolyn Mulberry hid the stolen pearls in the fake treasure chest in the bottom of her fish tank. I’m going to distract the woman while you retrieve the jewels.” “You are not the one that gets to distract her.” “But I’m the charming one!” “EXACTLY.”
“John, while you have many wonderful attributes there are some matters on which you are not an expert, therefore I must consult someone who is. This is just work, remember. Nothing personal.” ***Sherlock sends text*** “Fine, okay. Who are you texting?” ***orgasm text alert*** ***John sees red*** ***Sherlock smiles sheepishly***