DISCLAIMER: I really, really liked the majority of The Abominable Bride, but I also think really, really liking something doesn’t prevent you from being critical about certain aspects. If you don’t agree with either point, probably a good post to skip!
Oh geez, one of the most frustrating parts of my recent life, right up there with the lack of pockets in women’s suiting and the shear number of applications that I am currently not working on, is the women of Sherlock. If you’ve been following me for awhile (or, take a look at my meta page), you know this is probably my most consistent criticism. And wow, was The Abominable Bride a wild ride on that front. There were parts that were SO GOOD and then parts where I was like EHH and REALLY and then whole thing left me, I will say, hopefully confused.
Let’s talk about the good things! Because there were so many of them. By far, I enjoyed all of the female characters more in The Abominable Bride than I have in the history of Sherlock. MOLLY! God, look at Molly go, subverting a misogynistic culture for her own ambitions (also, having ambitions that have nothing to do with Sherlock). And Mary; I felt sorry for Mary for the first time ever, because you can visibly see her frustration at being left behind, and aligning with the person who will allow her to be useful and clever. And MRS. HUDSON; that woman always has great one liners, but here they really shown. And Watson’s maid, a new female character introduced not to flirt or swoon or be saved by one of the main characters, but to give SASS. All of the individual characters were great, I empathized with them, and I engaged with them, and I rooted for them in a way I don’t think I’ve ever done before. And look, you’re never going to hear me argue against female characters supporting each other and banding together for the good of all. Or an opportunity for a male character to own up to his sort of awful previous behavior.
But still….that moment…..ugh. It didn’t have to be feminism. And yes, I get it. I KNOW that moment was not Sherlock Holmes “mansplaining” feminism, it was Sherlock Holmes working through a problem in his mind and talking to himself and I KNOW it was probably an attempt to move in the right direction okay, I know all that. I understand the deeper meaning, I do. But still, on the surface level, it feels off. Because, it could have just been a group of women helping each other, because they wanted to. The political organizing bit didn’t really add anything, and because it was Sherlock and Mycroft who kept talking about how they were right, it came off a little condescending. And a bit like unnecessary pandering. And like, the look of the ending was gorgeous and climatic and the reveal was suspenseful, but, headline news version, it was women standing in the dark killing men that they hated. And it’s not great. It’s just not a great message, and yes, I know why it worked, but that doesn’t mean I like it.
And my issues, none of them them are major. None of them are “this is awful walk away all hope is lost;” they’re more “bug bite, rose thorn, step on a lego.” They don’t make me angry, just vaguely disappointed. And I think the reason it bothers me is because this keeps happening. Female characters keep getting introduced who seem to have a lot of potential, who seem to be going somewhere, and then right at the end, it all falls apart.
Take Irene Adler. I was there, with the dominatrix thing, because she held her own, and she beat both Holmes, and she walked away, and all we needed was a closing shot of her, on a cul de sac in suburban America, and I was all for it, I was writing fanfiction where Irene was wrecking havoc on the Desperate Housewives, and it was great, and then BOOM, last minute and a half of the episode, and she’s on her knees, in the dirt, in front of a man.
Or Molly! Molly started out not great, not secure, letting herself get disrespected and taken advantage of, but it was turning around, she was asserting herself, and standing on her own, and just when she could have gotten independent, BOOM she gets over Sherlock by finding a fiancé that looks exactly like him? And then she slaps Sherlock like what????
Mary, Mary is a tough one, and I sympathize, because let’s be honest, in canon, she’s essentially like a piece of furniture, because that was the time period, and it was sort of misogynistic, and that sucks, and there was so much potential to make it better, and BOOM they decide to make her a super relatable assassin-spy-secret agent-pathalogical liar? Who shoots the main character, which we we’re all maybe supposed to be fine with, but then also at the end has to be saved by the main character?
And then Janine, look, we knew that was coming, because that’s how Holmes gets in the house in canon, and yeah it sucked, but she got some of her own back at the end, and she left on her own terms, on the same level, and then BOOM some interview about how “Janine is totally fine with the fake engagement obviously she would still be interested in going out with Sherlock, of course!” Like have you ever spoken to a real woman before?
And it’s frustrating, because it gets too close. We got so close. What all of these characters tell me is that TPTB can write interesting, engaging female characters, and they want to, but they keep running out of steam. Don’t start the marathon if you can’t make it to the finish line. At this point, I would rather have no female characters than female characters that are given up on. Because we’re past the point of “any representation is good representation.” We are. If we’re okay with female characters that are nothing more than stereotypes and half-baked ideas, just because they’re there, there’s no incentive to dig any deeper or do any more. And frankly, we deserve better.
And yes, I KNOW the show is about John and Sherlock, and I think that’s a good thing. I’m not arguing against that dynamic. But come on. The supporting female characters can be more the set dressing, can do more than prop up the two men, and frankly they deserve that.
So where does that leave me? I’m not saying “Walk away from this show because it’s awful.” Not at all, because The Abominable Bride gave me hope. Anyone who knows me knows, one of my biggest criticisms of Mary is that I don’t think she’s that well written, and while TAB didn’t change that, it laid the potential. Mary could become so much more, and get so much back story, and have such a fuller roll in Series 4. All of the female characters could (also *cough cough* Sally let’s get her back in the action). And they deserve it. Frankly, so do we.
u know i think it’s funny I use the tags “miyuchat” and “miyuki’s art” especially since I haven’t been called miyuki in 4 years and I dont even want to be called that,,, but I mean I thought abt changing the tags but then I realized I would have to change hundreds of posts and u know what??? It’s fine u guys know I’m marcie I don’t need to clarify anything
did read your tags! you really should keep on watching it!! one piece is soooo goooood! i am sure after the arlong arc you cant stop anymore 🙊❤️✨
Yeah I heard someone say to me that OP might be a little boring in the beginning, but after 30 episodes or so it gets so good and I’m excited for that part! But I have to get through this arc where they meet Usop and ehh it’s kinda boring, I’m still pausing on watching OP for a bit because of that. Though I’m not dropping the series by all means! I watched the one-hour Nami special on Youtube just to get a glimpse on what the anime was like (that’s the Arlong Arc right) and it was so emotional and I cried so hard and thought to myself I gotta watch One Piece from the start ^0^
I already have a few OP ships even though I’m just on episode 10 LMAO