Spoilers for all currently aired episodes.
I've been seeing a lot of posts on tumblr and other websites talking about how Elementary is a lame attempt at remaking a British show (It's not. I've watched both shows, and I'm telling you, it's not). Or how it's not a good show. And then there are comments like, "I'm only watching this to distract myself until the new season of Sherlock comes on." While that is an okay reason for watching the show, I feel like this show has a lot more to offer than just a simple distraction. There are so many positive lessons embedded in the show, so much that I like about the main characters and their relationship. I'd like to discuss some of these things here.
The first point I'd like to address is the one about Elementary being a lame attempt at remaking a British show. Moffat himself has said that he did not give permission to CBS to recreate Sherlock, and therefore Elementary CANNOT be a remake because there would be legal repercussions. If Elementary is airing, it's because it's in no way, shape, or form like BBC's Sherlock. The two are mutually exclusive, like two books of the same genre aren't the same, neither are these two shows. You can go further and say that the shows are like two different fanfics of the same work. Just because the fanfics are based on the same work, doesn't mean they're the same fanfic. This is an important point because I feel like a lot of people go into Elementary with the idea that it's going to be a cheap copy of BBC's Sherlock. It's not. Not anymore than a fanfic is a cheap copy of another fanfic based on the same work of fiction. Which is why when I see posts about people refusing to watch Elementary just because the Americans copied Moffat, I'm sad for these people. They're missing out on a great show for inaccurate reasons. The Americans wanted to remake Sherlock. Moffat said no. So, the Americans DID NOT copy BBC's Sherlock.
This brings me to the fanfic comparison I made above, and some arguments I've heard that have to do with just that. There are some people (Moffat being one of them) that argue that Elementary isn't true to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's works and that that's why they hate the show. It's true that Elementary strays from the original works, but so does BBC's Sherlock. Moffat modernized Sherlock, changed him so that we in the modern world understand him. Essentially, BBC's Sherlock is a modern au of the original Sherlock. People still gave it a go and liked it. That's totally okay. But if that's okay and people still gave Sherlock a try, then why do some people suddenly hate Elementary just because CBS decided to do some changes too. I mean, CBS's Elementary is just a modern au set in New York City with a gender bent John Watson. And if you're reason for not watching Elementary is because you don't like gender bends with setting change then, that's a valid reason for not watching Elementary. But if you're reason for hating Elementary is that it's different from the original works then news flash, Sherlock is too. There may be less changes in Moffat's Sherlock sure, but every creator has a right to play with the work the way they'd like, and the fact that there are changes is no reason to hate what they've created. And who knows, if you gave Elementary a real go as its own original spin on the novels, you might find that you like the gender bend and the setting change. Although, I should mention that, if you're looking for a strict interpretation of the Sherlock novels, you won't find that in Elementary. But, again, CBS has the right to their creative liberty.
Now, I'd like to talk about my reason for why I disagree with the idea that "Elementary is not a good show," based on what the show provides and how the changes CBS made totally work to support some great ideas/themes. Elementary is actually an AWESOME show, and I will tell you why. In three parts actually, because it's long.
Joan Watson as a strong, independent, likable, female lead.
This is Joan Watson. She is a 30 something year old single, unmarried, former surgeon. I would like to repeat that.
Joan Watson is a 30 something year old single, unmarried, former surgeon.
- Why is her being a surgeon important? Well, because it sort of hints at Joan's age. Most surgeons start practicing on their own at around 30. And unless, Joan is a super genius (which would be another contribution to her overall awesomeness) then she's probably, at least in her 30s. Also, she's smart (she was a surgeon and as a former biochem/pre-med major and friend of current biochem/pre-med majors, I can tell you that you have to be dedicated and smart to get into med school. It's a lot of work).
- Her age is important because it highlights a couple of things. Joan is at an age where society, unfortunately, dictates that she should be married. I'm not saying that I think everyone should be married by 30. Nor am I saying that you, personally, think that (or you might, I wouldn't know). I am simply saying that it's an accepted fact that women will get married, and will have children. I don't agree with this, but unfortunately and overwhelming majority of people still feel this way. Anyway, back to Joan. She is unmarried and in her thirties. She is, for the most part, single. She has no children. Did I mention Joan likes baseball, which is a sport, which she watches? Yeah, Joan is a woman who watches sports. Women watch sports. Revolutionary, I know. Anyway, Joan is essentially a huge fuck you to all the preconceived notions about women, and what they should be doing. I'm not saying she's the only one. I am saying that Elementary is giving us one more strong, independent woman who breaks preconceived social norms, and we need as many of those as we can get.
She does whatever she wants simply because she wants to do it, regardless of whether others approve or not.
- A couple of notes here. Joan decided to be a sober companion because someone died on her operating table. However, this was her decision. No one forced her to quit her job, and she did it even when her parents didn't approve. She did what she did because she wanted to. And I love that, the idea that as long as what you're doing is fulfilling, and makes you happy, there's no reason not to do it, even if others are telling you you shouldn't.
- Joan also decided to stay with Sherlock even after her contract was up, and even though her therapist advised her not to (see "The Red Team"). We can argue that she did it because she cares about Sherlock, and wants to be there for him, but I think we can't forget that Joan's shown an interest in the work itself (see the conversations she has with her mom in "The Leviathan," and her own deductive skills in "The Deductionist" when she figured out that her landlord was trying to evict her on purpose). Joan enjoys figuring things out, and I read her staying, as both wanting to help Sherlock, and wanting to keep doing something she enjoyed doing. Her therapist said no (see "The Red Team") and Joan still stayed, because she wants to.
She is a fast learner, intelligent, and she learns from her mistakes.
- I feel like coming back to the idea that she in intelligent is important. I'd like to highlight this, because although Sherlock is the clever deductionist, Joan isn't just sitting on the back burner. She's a contributor. Her medical skills actually come to play, and in many cases, genuinely help Sherlock, because what he doesn't know, Joan does.
- Not only that, but Joan learns from Sherlock. She's not just an observer, she's an active learner. This I think is seen best in "You do it yourself" with Watson absolving her ex, on her own. With skills, that can be argued, she picked up from Sherlock. We see this again in "The Deductionist," when Joan discovers her landlord's plan to evict her. Basically, Joan has learned a whole lot about solving problems/cases.
- Now that last point, about Joan learning from her mistakes, is my favorite. The patient dying at her operating table was not intentional, but Watson saw it as her mistake. Because she sees it as such, that's the way I'm seeing it too. What I admire about Joan is that even though she made this mistake, she got over it. It took time, yeah, but eventually she took up another job, met Sherlock, and learned that mistakes happen, but you can't let them shape you. Joan has her issues but she doesn't let them define her. And I love, love, that.
Joan also knows how to take care of herself.
- I just want to refer you to "The Deductionist." Joan didn't ask anyone to go speak to her landlord for her. She got up, went to him, confronted him, and demanded that he pay her back for having her evicted. And he did. Joan is a badass. Enough said.
Take a look at the amount of amazing in a single woman, and sure, Joan has her issues. She can be a bit nosy (she poked around until she found out about Irene, even though Sherlock wasn't ready to share), and she has her character flaws, but that's okay because she's human. Flaws and strengths are what define a person, what make them interesting to watch. And she is a woman. She is a well-rounded, dynamic character who's changed over the course of fifteen episodes. I think that alone is reason enough for me to stick with Elementary, because I want to know where Joan goes, how she continues to change, what's going to happen to her and Sherlock once they find Morarity, or once Sherlock finds out Joan isn't being paid anymore. I want to hear what she has to say, how she contributes. I love her as a character, and I will continue to love her forever, and ever.
(This has been my contribution for today. I will post up the last two parts, and link them all by the end of this week. Thanks for reading all of this, guys.)