Explaining Molly as a "Mirror"
Since I’ve been asked about this specifically a number of times I thought it would be helpful to just make a post.
So “Molly is John’s mirror” not some clever subtext that someone in the tinfoil hat brigade discovered. It is, in fact, a very old trope of the “Ms. Male” or “Distaff counterpart” that certain fans are applying here.
Basically it means taking a male character, slapping a female signifier on him, and voila! Same shit, new character.
One of the most recognizable examples is Ms. Pac Man. In order to appeal to the female market. Media Execs simply slap a lipstick and bow on whatever they happen to be making at that moment and hey! look! inclusivity! Buy our stuff, dumb ladies!
Here are some reasons why this is problematic:
1. It diminishes the female character’s role to her relationship with a male.
2. It does not leave room for dimension as this character is not her own person. She is merely a “girl version” of someone else.
3. It reduces female identity to shitty gendered signifiers (pink, frills, sparkles etc…)
Usually this goes hand in hand with the “Smurfette principle”. Where women are tokenized as the “girl” in an all-male cast. She may be a character that has other qualities but the one given highest import is that she is female in a way that remains very rigidly within the scope of the social gender binary.
This is not how Molly Hooper was written. She’s being read that way by fans who have a lot of internalized misogyny that they are projecting onto her character.
So far the only overlap I have seen is that Molly likes ugly jumpers and she’s nice.
But Molly wears ugly jumpers far more often than John, yet it’s a characteristic that belongs to him by default?
And let’s be honest, John is really not that nice. I mean sometimes kinda, but only if there’s something in it for him. (eg: getting to be the “hero”, flirting with women, looking superior to Sherlock) but apart from that, he’s just kind of a jerk who treats his non-neurotypical friend like some lovable “idiot savant”. Any one of us who met him in person would probably instantly label him as a “fuckboy” because well… the shoe fits.
Molly has a level of kindness that is completely unprecedented. Her kindness and loyalty are her trademark characteristics and I, personally think, that it’s very not good to hand that off to John just to make him seem better or to apply more validation to a fan-made narrative that actively works to erase female characters.
It’s definitely something to unpack and examine.