So, last week the final episode of Sherlock’s S4 ended and, oh my, what a hullabaloo! The way some fans reacted, you’d think their teddy bears had been burned, their dogs left to starve, and their father’s beards cut off. I mean, I love Sherlock, too, folks, but… seriously?
When a show becomes as successful as Sherlock has been, some backlash is inevitable. John Watson himself said it in The Reichenbach Fall: “The press always turn, Sherlock, and they will turn on you.”
Enter entitled fans. That is to say Fans. With a capital F.
Most Sherlock fans are lovely. They discuss the stories, exchange ideas, and accept that no TV show is going to be all things to all men. Fans-with-an-F, however, are, shall we say, invested? So long as the series is trucking on in a manner that pleases them, they are sugar drops. Let the creatives veer off-course (from their perspective) and watch out!
As far as the Fans-with-an-F are concerned, the latest series of Sherlock went badly off-course. And they DIDN’T. LIKE. IT.
The reasons for their disgruntlement seems to fall under the following broad categories:
- John and Sherlock did not ride off hand in hand into the sunset together.
- The episode was confusing.
- My best friend / guru / bloke on TV didn’t like it so I don’t like it either.
- Did I mention John and Sherlock did not ride off hand in hand into the sunset together?
In the aftermath, some little darlings sent death threats to the various members of the creative team. Even the lovely Loo Brealey (Molly Hooper) was subjected to unspeakable nastiness on the internet. Her crime? Playing her part as written instead of… well, I don’t know what, exactly. Throwing a strop? Demanding a rewrite? Steven Moffat—always the gold in the target of Fans-with-an-F—came in for the most outrageous criticism, chastisement, and wishes for a swift and agonising death. Over a TV show.
In the last couple of days, Fans-with-an-F have started an actual on-line petition to “Make Hartswood Films, BBC, Gatiss and Moffat Answer for the Queerbaiting of Sherlock.” The episode, the petitioner says, was “horribly written, horribly edited, had more plot holes than my pasta colander, and did a disservice to its actors.” With all that’s been happening in the world recently, THIS is what these people think demands a petition?
It will come as no surprise to you when I say I am a big Sherlock Holmes fan. Love the books. Love the movies. Riveted by Rathbone, Bonkers for Brett, and completely Cumberbatched. Now, there were issues with all these dramatisations of the Great Detective. Rathbone was great but his Watson left me cold. Brett was near-perfect until ill-health intervened, and Cumberbatch is the quintessential modern-day Holmes despite the Moffating.
I admit the series has had issues. Jim Moriarty, adorable though Andrew Scott may be, was very much the villain who overstayed his welcome. There was too much Mary Watson. The links to the original stories wandered more and farther afield as the series progressed. Despite that, it was still a joy to watch.
I love the scripts. The wit, the snark, the Easter eggs. The actors are fabulous, the cinematography first rate, the direction superb. It’s one of the greatest TV series of all time, in my opinion, but here’s the thing:
IT’S JUST A TV SHOW.
I don’t understand all the sturm und drang. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. Odds are there won’t be any more episodes anyway, at least not for several years. The people involved have become too busy. Besides, who needs mouthy 12-year olds writing them death threats just because ‘JohnLock’ never happened. (Johnlock, for those of you of a serious mind and sophisticated nature, probably won’t know that this is the belief – ahem, demand – that the two main characters are madly in love and having it off on a nightly basis. Show that to us, Moffat!)
If you’re 12 years old, I can probably forgive your expectation. If you’re older than that, then you really need to educate yourself. The writers, producers, and actors have told you repeatedly that Sherlock and John were never going to be shown snogging. Was never, ever going to happen. “Go write fan fiction about it if you want,” Moffat said. “But it won’t happen on our show.”
But guess what? The little princes and princesses knew, KNEW that Mean Mr Moffat was lying. He had to be. They wanted it so badly. Mummy always gives me what I want when I tell her I really, really want it (I’m going to a Spice Girl when I grow up), so why couldn’t that Mean Mr Moffat do the same? I’m going to hold my breath until I turn blue. That’ll show you. In the meantime, I’m going to harass you on social media, tell you to kill yourself, wish horrible diseases upon you, your wife, your infant child, and even your dog because I didn’t get my way!
Have you heard of a grip? Any chance you could get one?
Of course, it’s not just the ‘JohnLock’ folks who are riled. People accuse the creatives of queer-bashing because there are so many jokes made by characters on the show who suggest John and Sherlock must be gay. Two men living together. I mean, of course. The fact that both characters denied it on screen, that Sherlock had a fling with Irene Adler and John got married and had a child – with a WOMAN! – was irrelevant. Oh, they say, but Moffat says gay people will turn straight at a moment’s notice if Sherlock’s around. And the villains are always gay. See? They hate gay people.
Uh, but isn’t co-creator and screenwriter Mark Gatiss himself a gay man?
We don’t care! We want JohnLock! We demand satisfaction!
It would be a different matter if I believed the Fans-with-an-F were really concerned about gay rights, but that’s very definitely not the impression they leave. They don’t really care about anything except John and Sherlock snogging. Oh, and them getting their way.
Because the scripts fail to match their florid fantasies, they scream that the writing team don’t really know how to write. “i cd do better than dem. i cn rite gud. ur mean, moffit…”
The coda to this sad tale came on Sunday night when BBC aired a new series called Apple Tree Yard in Sherlock‘s vacated time-slot. The darling Fans had convinced themselves that it was a hoax and a ‘proper’ final Sherlock episode would air instead. After all, ATY starred Ben Chaplin. BEN! and Emily WATSON! But, oh, the tears when that didn’t actually happen and Apple Tree Yard was a proper series without a speck of Sherlockiness.
For most of us, this seems like a big joke, just another piece of madness made up by a bunch of over-invested kids. Except, unfortunately, a lot of these Fans aren’t kids at all. They are grown women and men who have jobs and families–though you have to wonder how much attention they give either, given their utter absorption in Sherlock.
“Each man kills the things he loves,” said Oscar Wilde. There’s no denying these Fans did love Sherlock. Is the series now dead or merely sleeping? My suspicion is it’s dormant and won’t rouse from its slumber for several more years. Perhaps, by then, the Fans-with-an-F will have found something else to commit to. Maybe they could properly campaign for gay rights, since they’re so concerned about it. Or just human rights around the world. We could use the help.
I’m not holding my breath.