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On the BBC’s Sherlock: A Study in Character, a guest post by author Carrie Mesrobian


Sherlock holds a sweet spot in my heart and not just I’m flooded with animated GIFs on my Tumblr feed of Sherlock and John kissing (I AM JOHN-LOCKED, etc.). And not just because it’s a brilliantly written and acted show.

I love Sherlock because my daughter Matilda, age 10, also loves it. So it’s one of the rare times my husband and my daughter can join me in one of my television obsessions. (Read what she wrote about her other television obsession, The Walking Dead, here)
Because we don’t have cable, we have to wait until January 19th, when season 3 premieres on PBS. I’m fairly DYING, because I have to avoid Tumblr (and I do love my Tumblr, you know) and because my family is full of predictions about Sherlock’s faked death and how he pulled it off.

BBC

 “I think he cloned himself; he just killed one of the extra bodies,” said Matilda.

“How did he clone himself?  Did the Baskerville lab scientists help him?” I asked.
“No, he probably just made Molly do it in her lab or whatever,” she replied.
Meanwhile, my husband is sure that Moriarty isn’t dead.
“If he’s dead, they’ll have to make up another villain,” Adrian said. “And who could be a better villain than Moriarty?”
Adrian’s also confident that The Woman – Irene Adler – will return. I think his confidence is partly wishful, due to Irene Adler’s tendency to appear on the show naked, but I also find her character riveting as well.
Irene Adler brings me to the real point I want to discuss, however: the beguiling character of Sherlock himself.
To sum him up, again, here’s Matilda: “Sherlock is an amazing person, but sometimes he’s kind of a dick.”

Editor’s note: Sherlock apparently needs to read this book from Zest Books

Indeed, this is what we’ve been learning, through John Watson’s viewpoint. Sherlock, though he’s a deductive genius, is extremely socially inept. He even claims to be a sociopath at one point, correcting a member of the police who calls him a psychopath. Truly, he is a character obsessed with solving mysteries, at times appearing not to care about the lives he might save or the good he might do – only the work, solving the puzzle, is alluring to him.

So, in a time when everyone wants characters who are “likeable,” why do we fascinate on Sherlock?
I think it’s because Sherlock himself is a mystery. The world reveals much to him at a mere glance but he himself, his own internal life and emotions, remain opaque to us. His relationships are minimal; he can’t get along with his brother Mycroft, and it’s a big step when he tells John in The Hounds of Baskerville that he doesn’t have “friends” but rather “one friend” – John himself, who is a relatively recent acquaintance.
Irene Adler is a character we enjoy watching for many reasons. But the key one is that she manages to reveal more about Sherlock – A Scandal in Belgravia features both of them literally naked as well –  as we see the effect she has on him, even as Sherlock strives to hide it. As viewers we are hoping she will give us more clues about Sherlock’s emotional capacity.

Source: Tumblr

Jim Moriarty also offers slight suggestive glimpses to the existence of any sense of morality in Sherlock’s precise, scientific brain. As foils and rivals, Moriarty presents a crucial question: what is the difference between him and Sherlock? We want to assume Sherlock has a conscience while Moriarty does not, but so far we don’t have much clear evidence on this fact.

So while we all are fascinated at the idea of being someone like Sherlock, having a mind that functions as his does, the mystery of him — and the show itself —  is how a person whose thought processes work in such vivid, amazing ways actually experiences the world in terms of emotions and morals and ethics and instincts. Does Sherlock not possess any of those things? Or does he suppress them in order to let his mind do its fantastic feats? Is it possible to truly know him as a person? Will John Watson succeed in becoming his true confidant and not just a sounding board and companion on adventures?
I look forward to journeying through these mysteries on January 19th, though I can’t live-tweet, as I need to pay full attention to everything (also no commercials makes it harder) and hope to offer up a recap/response on the premiere on my own blog.

About Carrie Mesrobian

Carrie Mesrobian is a native Minnesotan. A former high school Spanish instructor, Carrie currently teaches at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. Her writing has appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Brain, Child magazine, and Calyx. Her debut young adult novel, Sex & Violence(Carolrhoda LAB) received stars from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. Her second novel, Perfectly Good White Boy, will be released in fall of 2014. She currently lives with her husband (Adrian), daughter (Matilda) and dog (Pablo), all of whom are pretty excellent.

Comments

  1. AVOID PINTEREST! Some idiot totally ruined the surprise for me by creating a gif of …….. I was so mad I could cry! And I didn't even click on the image. I thanked her sarcastically from all of Sherlock's American viewers.

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