10 Reasons why Elementary Is Far Superior to BBC’s Sherlock


10 Reasons why Elementary Is Far Superior to BBC’s Sherlock:

10) The Magical Speshul White Guy Actually Gets Called Out On His BS

Unlike BBC’s Sherlock who’s consistently a dick to everyone and gets a pass because he’s white and “speshul”, Elementary’s Sherlock, who while is also a dick, actually has gets called out on his antics and there are repercussions for said antics. And true to the original text, Elementary’s Sherlock actually respects human beings even if they aren’t on his level.

9) Elementary Featured Multiple Asians In An Episode Without Epic Racefail

If you saw Season 1 Ep 2 of BBC’s Sherlock, you know exactly the fuckery that I’m referencing.

8) Elementary features a superior Irene Adler/Moriarty

I would explain how but that would be spoilers.

7) The setting takes place in a realistic setting

Unlock BBC’s Sherlock that takes place in a very whitewashed London, Elementary takes place in a diverse New York where POCs can be seen everywhere in the background, as police officers, as execs being interviewed for cases, as recurring characters, in all socio-economic classes from all walks of like.

6) No heterosexist/homophobic jokes

Unlike Writer/Exec Producer Steve Moffatt who makes so many homophobic jokes in Sherlock that making a drinking game out of it could lead to alcohol poisoning, the writers of Elementary keep their comedy a tad more sophisticated and a tad less offensive. Because as an LGBTQ, I just love having my orientation mocked every time I watch a TV show.

5) The writers of Elementary actually know how to write women (of color)

Let’s keep it 100, Irene Adler notwithstanding, BBC’s Sherlock is not a fine example of multifaceted female characters. Dr. Joan Watson is no sidekick and consistently proves herself to be Sherlock’s equal time and time again. And how many shows American or British can say that about their heroines of color?

4) 50 Percent of the Elementary cast is comprised of people of color.

Jon Michael Hill as Det. Marcus Bell (which I love the nod to Joseph Bell, and given to the black guy no less) and Dr. Joan Watson. Both of whom get screentime and stations and agency. More than that, recurring characters are also POCs, OH EM EFFIN GEE, IT’S LIKE THE NAACP UP IN THIS MOTHERFUCKER.

3) A Trans Mrs. Hudson

Elementary not only puts a new spin on an iconic character but she’s also formidable muse and fierce in her own right. And said trans character is played by talented trans actress, Candis Cayne.

IMG_0004 IMG_0005

2) Frequent shirtless scenes featuring one Johnny Lee Miller

Let’s keep it 100 people, as far as sexy Sherlocks go, Miller’s got it. Case in point:

IMG_0007 IMG_0006




Elementary features Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson. That’s right Elementary has Charlie’s Angel, O Ren Ishii herself.  For her inclusion alone, Elementary wins and your argument is invalid.

Keep your White Kahn-Artists and your hobbits, Lucy Liu trumps all.

And I for one cannot wait for season 2 of Elementary this fall.

44 thoughts on “10 Reasons why Elementary Is Far Superior to BBC’s Sherlock

  1. I genuinely need to get back into Elementary. I watched the first five episodes, loved it, and then had to stop due to school reasons. Getting back into it this summer if it kills me.

  2. All of those reasoons!

    What I really hated about the BBC Sherlock was how… Inhuman he was when in the books, Sherlock was, while amazingly intellectual, very compassionate and kind and respected Dr. Watson’s abilities and would often defer to them as Sherlock does in Elementary.

    And getting called on his BS! Fuck, that was awesome, and it continues to be. Watson neveer falters in telling him something or giving him the side-eye that’s hardly subtle. And the episode with her family was amazing.

    And I just saw the episode with Mrs. Hudson the other night and it was great! Sherlock makes the observation that she is trans, and he and Watson continue to call her ‘her’ and ‘she’, respecting her throughout the episode.

  3. I love Elementary so much! I haven’t watched Sherlock, I think I’ll skip it.

    I can’t wait for season 2!

  4. I haven’t seen much of either, but the only one I’ve watched has been Elementary. The Doyle Watson was a badass in his own right, so having Joan Watson be a badass is actually straightforward to the original stories. I think I’m going to check this series out.

  5. I don’t get that Sherlock gets a pass on his antics simply “because he’s white,” but I do agree there should be more nonwhite characters in the British show.

    I think the major failing of Elementary is that Watson isn’t a military veteran. It’s an important part of the character, and implicit in leaving that out when you make Watson female is the idea that women shouldn’t be in the military, which is so not okay in the 21st century.

    • “I don’t get that Sherlock gets a pass on his antics simply “because he’s white,””

      And it’s okay if you don’t get it. However the rest of us do.

      “It’s an important part of the character, and implicit in leaving that out when you make Watson female is the idea that women shouldn’t be in the military, which is so not okay in the 21st century.”

      Hello Strawman how are you today? Given that the show has had several episodes which explored female characters as military officers, police officers, and co-owners of security firms, that pretty much invalidates your argument.

      Furthermore, BBC’s John Watson, while having military training, consistently proves himself to be inept when any physical altercations occur as opposed to Dr. Joan Watson who repeatedly shows that she can handle herself.

      And if you watched the season finale, you would know that many powerful women got showcased something fierce and if you watched the season finale you would know that Joan Watson all but defeated the Big Bad singlehandedly.

      And I’m also going to call bullshit that you would critique Elementary on its failings of women (nevermind the fact that they’ve actually showcased women of color and trans women in a positive light), but have said nothing on the rampant unchecked misogyny that BBC’s Sherlock brings not to mention his repeated verbal abuse of virtually every female he encounters.

      That’s so not okay.

      • Guest characters are different from main characters. When a show makes its version of an iconic character like Watson, it’s entirely fair to give close scrutiny to changes they make to the original version. Today’s military has women, and doctors, and women doctors, and even an Afghan war, so it’s perplexing to me that Liu’s Watson wouldn’t have any of that in common with Conan Doyle’s Watson. I’d love to read in an interview that it was for reasons other than her sex, but that’s what it looks like.

        I never said she wasn’t a great character or that she wasn’t a great partner for Holmes, or that she’s presented generally in a sexist manner.

        Also, “BBC’s John Watson, while having military training, consistently proves himself to be inept when any physical altercations occur” is inaccurate. He shot the cabbie serial killer and has been quite handy with his cane.

        • Once again your argument is invalid given that she’s constantly training and has saved Sherlocks ass more than once.

          I have an issue with this claim that because she’s not in the military she therefore can’t be strong.

          You continue not to speak on the rampant misogyny in BBCs Sherlock, thus making your replies disingenuous and hella suspect.

          • “I have an issue with this claim that because she’s not in the military she therefore can’t be strong.”

            I’ve made no such claim. Rather the show seems to be claiming that if Watson is female she can’t have been an Army doctor.

            “You continue not to speak on the rampant misogyny in BBCs Sherlock”

            I’m just more interested in talking about Elementary. It’s not a zero-sum discussion, where criticism of Elementary implies equal and opposite praise of Sherlock. But if you insist on it before we move on, fine: Sherlock is rampantly misogynist, and the show’s treatment of female characters, particularly Mrs. Hudson, is dreadful.

            • Oh you think we’re going to be moving on as if I give a fuck about you or your opinion. Oh no boo-boo we won’t be doing that. What we will be doing however is mocking you and your hypocrisy and your strawmen not to mention your failed attempts at derailing this conversation.

              Given that you can’t even recognize white privilege or misogyny when fluctuates out the face in BBC Sherlock you have nothing worth adding to this conversation so you can stop now and have a seat.

              • Furthermore if you gave an actual flying fuck about misogyny/racism you would not be pissing on the show that actually promotes women of color and defending the show that promotes straight white dudebros racism and misogyny and homophobia.

              • I haven’t been rude to you, nor hypocritical, nor have I been giving Sherlock a pass. But if you aren’t interested in a civil discussion without name-calling and reductive insults, then see ya.

              • You’ve attempted to derail this post with bullshit arguments and got called on your shit.

                All of which could’ve been avoided had you bothered to read the commenting policy.

                Since you can’t respect our space, we don’t have a fuck to give about your opinion.

  6. I love Elementary. I haven’t watched the BBC show, but it seems from what you are saying that I wouldn’t enjoy it at all. At first I thought it would be odd to have a female Watson, but Lucy Liu rocks it. She is an amazing actress, but beyond that, occasionally they even let her freckles shine through. She looks very real for this show, and I appreciate that.

      • I think it may be a new betentacled lovecraftian horror (appropriate since I understand Lovecraft was several kinds of arsehole as well). The Superwholock. It crawls from the depths echoing with the cries of a thousand fanpoodles and the screaming of invulnerable, unchallenged privileged, oozing the secretions of Privileged Folk Tears, and moving in the jerky motion of a thousand Flounces. The Superwholock is here, abandon all hope.

  7. I will consume and enjoy basically any Sherlock Holmes thing, BBC’s Sherlock included, but I agree that Elementary is a VASTLY superior show.

  8. I love the Holmes stories. All of them. Because of them I have made a hobby of Victorian England and its Empire. But I know the fiction, too.

    I didn’t discover “Sherlock” until the last 15 minutes of Season One so I was sure to watch Elementary. I watched Season 2 and read what I could about it. This was simply an attempt to update the stories and the characters to the 21st Century and I think, considering goal the BBC undertook, that they did a fine job.

    This evening, after reading your 10 Reasons and how you compare one Holmes to the other, reading and considering the comments and observing how you not only treated one commenter uncivilly for disagreeing with you but posted the diatribe as if you’re proud of it, I dug up S 1/Ep 1 of “Sherlock” on Youtube and watched it through. Do you know what? There are two women “of color” in the first 20 minutes of Episode 1, women with powerful performances and influential roles. One was Dr. Watson’s black therapist. The other was the Sargeant of detectives who told Watson that Holmes was a psychopath. And the third woman, while not dark, was the brunette who called herself Adler while conducting Watson to the presence of Mycroft – this “Adler” character has potential for some serious influence.

    So I strenuously disagree with your observation that the entire series is monochromatic and misogynist, and I observe that, if a Detective Sargeant is free to warn strangers about Holmes with a psychiatric diagnosis, he didn’t get away with his BS. Now that I have seen what I’ve seen, I suspect your other conclusions about the BBC version to be biased. Although I am enjoying “Elementary” – I simply would not have cast Miller in the central role because he doesn’t look at all the part.

    • John, you should’ve actually done some research before trolling this post otherwise you would’ve saved yourself some embarassment. The women of color in BBC’s Sherlock were nothing more than minor characters (if that) and the black female cop was having an affair with a white married man (and thus playing into the black jezebel/sapphire trope) and furthermore season 2 establishes who truly is Adler.

      And again, we won’t mention the fail of Season 1 Ep 2 that denigrated Asians, which you conveniently omitted. Imagine that.

      And quite frankly, we here don’t give a rats ass about what you agree or disagree with. Your white entitlement tends to make you think because you agree or disagree with something it is therefore fact. WE DON’T CARE. You haven’t watched both series thoroughly and aren
      t qualified to comment yet you come on here talking shit regardless.

      And as far as me being uncivil, uncivil is assholes like you and that piece of shit coming on to our space, disregarding our policies and derailing our space.

      So now that we’ve established that you’re yet another troll talking out of your ass, feel free to kiss mine.

      • What is it about cis straight white guys that makes them think we actually want them to teach us how to think like they do? Do they not understand how fucking condescending and hostile it is to have them tell us we’re idiots because we don’t share their privileged myopic perspective? Rancid fuckwad haters.

    • I *love* the BBC’s Sherlock. I’ve watched every episode. Twice.

      But, I don’t love it’s racefail and misogyny — it doesn’t change the fact that it is indeed monochromatic and overly gender stereotyped in how it handles the casting and character development. It’s very much the “good old boys club” version of Sherlock. The female characters are far too often week or non-existent. There are exceptions, but you have to go looking for them as they are few and far in between. POCs are background dressings at best. So far, the characters have been flat background characters. It’s ripe with racefail in many other aspects as well. As NeoProdigy mentions — S1EP2 had some of the flattest, most stereotypical, most dismissive treatment of Asians that I’ve seen in quite some time.

      The failures by far outweigh the minimal positives. And, even then, I generally don’t count them as positives as they seem to be token attempts rather than representing a show that is actually well-rounded with believable, sympathetic, fully-fleshed out POC and female characters. That’s not even getting into the LGBTQ related issues or kink issues or sex-worker issues.

      • Sherlock is a little bit at disadvantage though, because the show has so few episodes. Just look at Molly – after six episodes of steady character development, she has become a pretty good character. Mrs. Hudson might be the caring type, but in six episodes we learned that she required Sherlock’s help to ensure that her husband got executed and she hide important evidence from two foreign agents who beat her up. Sherlock might lack the oh so powerful kick-ass female characters, but the supposedly weak characters have a lot of hidden strength which Imho sends a way better message than creating for example a trauma surgeon who for some reason can’t deal with seeing a violent death.
        I have raged against Irene Adler to no end, but my main Issue with it is the same I have with more or less all versions of the character (except the one in the Jeremy Brett version, which is the best version of her by far): They all make her a criminal. I really don’t see how Elementary’s take is better, because they do the same.
        And in the end of the day: The main job of either show is not to present some sort of political correct version a book which was written to a very different time. Their job is to present a modern version of it, which is still true to the adaption. Sherlock succeeds, not just by keeping the characters close to the original, but also by actively working with the source text. Elementary fails, because Watson, female or not, should be an army doctor and writing about Sherlock, and Sherlock should be a character who can take care of his own and isn’t dependent on daddy’s money. And they should join up on their own free will, not because one of the works for the other.
        Elementary is not even in the same league as Sherlock. It’s not their fault. The production value is lower, the mind-set behind the show is different, they have to crank out too many episodes to really stick to what canon has to offer. We should finally start to look at Elementary independent from Sherlock and ask: Is this a good adaption and is this a good show. And the answer is: No, it’s not a good adaptation, but it would be a good show “inspired by it” – but they named the characters Holmes and Watson instead of House and Wilson, so they made a promise they didn’t fulfil. And yes it would be a good show, if they hade done it five or seven years ago. But now it comes in the wake of countless Holmes-inspired shows, and watch Elementary is more or less like watching The Mentalist or Castle again. It’s just generic. It doesn’t disturb anything though.

  9. The only reason why I let some of these comments through is to illustrate exactly what not to do.

    As mentioned in the Before You Comment and Act Like You Got Some Home Training sections, Ars Marginal is a place where people routinely sidelined and marginalized by mainstream arts and entertainment can speak about their perspectives and experiences with arts and entertainment in an open, honest way without the usual crap that attempts to undermine our intelligence and sanity at every turn.

    In so many words, if women, people of color, LGBTQ people, disabled people, and poor/working class people giving the unvarnished truth about what they like or don’t like and why is something you feel compelled to debate, derail, deny, or otherwise show your ass about, please keep that shit to yourself.

    Every single person who came into this post trying to convince the OP that he is stupid, crazy, or mean for how and why he feels the way he does about “Sherlock” and “Elementary” has not only violated the rules of engagement but also the spirit in which Ars Marginal was created.

    This is not appreciated. Stop.

    In the past, I would have simply spammed these comments and kept it moving, but something told me to give it a chance.

    It was foolhardy to do so.

    Every single person coming out the woodwork over the past 24 hours has proven that it was foolhardy to think that anything but the same old nonsense would happen.

    So, everyone should consider themselves officially on notice from here on out. If you continue to show your ass, you’ll be banned. Don’t even bother trying to argue. I’ll just spam and trash your comment without even reading it. Then I’ll ban you.


  10. I do hope Elementary is safe for work because it’s impossible not to watch it after this recommendation.

      • This show is awesome. I see what you mean about Sherlock being called out on his BS, the novelty of it is quite surprising and adds another level to the show. The way Sherlock investigates reminds me of Patrick Jane, however, I find Sherlock to be more charming due to his eccentricity, his relationship with Watson, and his vulnerability. There is also the fact that he’s not a borderline sociopath.

  11. Elementary is one of my favorite shows and I will be getting season 1. I am curious about Sherlock, but from what I have been reading, it doesn’t sound like something I would enjoy. I saw one episode. I didn’t like it. I MAY give it a try before the summer ends, but it just looks like more of the same. And I don’t think I can handle a Sherlock who is never held accountable for his actions.

    I’m totally not ashamed to admit that Ms. Liu is the reason I started watching Elementary, but I love this show because the the dynamic between her Watson, Sherlock and the other characters. Sherlock is brilliant, but I like that the show doesn’t make the other characters inferior so that Sherlock can shine. And Miller’s Sherlock is not defined by his intelligence. He is compassionate and just. It’s not just about solving puzzles. He really cares about people.

  12. I agree, Elementary is a good show, I don’t think it surpasses the BBC’s Sherlock though. I haven’t noticed any huge errors in the plots of Sherlock. Elementary, yes. S1 E15. !!!!SPOILER ALERT!!!! for those who haven’t seen it yet. THE FINGER BURNED from fancy cast iron radiator, believable, Identifying a location from burn design, and food residue, very believable! The part I have a problem with, finding her in an “abandoned apartment building”! What “abandoned building” ,anywhere in the world, has heat that is on? NONE. Plot dead
    Holmes and Watson’s characters are being interpreted by the writers of the respected series. I like them both, but again, the BBC’s version didn’t seem to have such a large error in any of their plots

    • BBC’s Sherlock pulled the same crap in season 2 where he solved case after case without rhyme reason or explanation. PLOT DEAD. So that argument, invalid.

    • I actually don’t imagine it’s that unlikely. Recently abandoned building = heat might still be on, Or, someone calls the utility company and has it turned back on (a fake name to put the bill under, or something as simple as knowing someone who works for the utility company). Or, the building is only partially abandoned.
      Abandoned and condemned are not the same thing. Condemned buildings would have no heat. They don’t disconnect the pipes, you just need someone to turn back on services.

  13. I disagree with #8! But I second the rest!
    I would like to comment, though, that I was against Elementary doing away with Sherlock Holmes as an asexual. America just cannot watch TV without some “sexy time” and I think that’s just silly.
    Anyway, Sherlock has style… but Elementary has better ideas and more interesting character dynamics. Far superior.

    • I will say this. I did like Irene Adler in BBC’s Sherlock. She kicked ass. However my problem with her was that she fell into the same trap that they did in the movies where she got reduced to being the love interest/temptress and minion of Moriarty’s.

      Irene Adler should never work for anyone. She’s a major player on the same level as Moriarty and Sherlock.

      She’s what the kids would call a boss chick. Good or evil, Adler should answer to no one. And to me that’s why Elementary edges out on BBC’s Sherlock.

  14. I see #9 as something sad, since it shouldn’t be exceptional to have that kind of representation on a network show.

  15. Well, started to think differently about BBC Sherlock after reading the post. Never watched the other show (i’m not in US, and this site is very US-centric). Is it worth fiddling with VPNs and proxys to be able to pay for on Netflix?

  16. I understand where you come from in the post. I’ll admit that I’m an avid Sherlock Holmes fan and will watch and/or read everything about it before coming to my final conclusion of the whole thing. I’ll also admit that I was a little put off by the fact that Watson was a girl (I didn’t mind her being Asian really – I was really just focusing on her gender) as, in ACDs’ version, Watson was a guy and I grew up on those stories. I did start watching Sherlock before I started Elementary, so I am more lenient to that. But Elementary is a good show. The best Sherlock Holmes adaption? Not in my opinion, but neither is ‘Sherlock’. There are going to be a lot more shows focusing on the whole Sherlock Holmes thing, so I’m pretty sure my opinion on them won’t stay the same for so long. But still, good points in the post! It’s going to change my view a little on Sherlock.

Comments are closed.