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Why Are We Sherlocked?

Why BBC’s Sherlock Has Acquired a Cult Following

Sherlock Holmes is one of the most captivating literary creations of all times. Perhaps it is because we, as readers and viewers, have a secret desire to become detectives ourselves. Everyone loves a little mystery. When we can figure out “whodunnit” before the brilliant detective, whether on screen or in print, it boosts our egos that much more.  

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson as illustrated by Sidney Paget
Sherlock Holmes and John Watson as illustrated by Sidney Paget

The very character of Sherlock Holmes is also part of the intrigue. Holmes is a complicated fellow. He’s both brilliant and self-destructive. He’s compassionate yet cold and calculating. He can read people and situations better than anyone, and yet he’s a tad socially inept. So many characters we come across in this day and age are “flat” characters. They have no development; they are stagnant. Sherlock Holmes always seems to be evolving and adapting to the situations around him.

Perhaps this is why there are so many iterations of the Sherlock Holmes story. His character can be applied to any era and location. Lately, there have been three popular versions of his story. There is the BBC version, Sherlock, which has an almost cult-like following. Elementary, which presents an interesting twist on the classic tale, takes place in New York City and transforms Watson into a woman. There is also the movie series, Sherlock Holmes, where Robert Downey Jr. plays the titular character. While all three of these screen adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original novels are similar in their foundation, they all have something different to bring to the table. 

Why Benedict Cumberbatch Has Us “Sherlocked”

However, I would venture to say that the BBC’s Sherlock has caused more people to become utterly “Sherlocked.” There are several reasons why I believe this to be true. First of all, the BBC modernizes the story of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Throughout the episodes, we see Sherlock using his cellphone to text different characters, for example. By modernizing the story, we can relate the characters more to our everyday lives. We can imagine that we truly live in a world where Sherlock Holmes exists.

Despite the modernization, the story still takes place in London and Holmes and Watson still reside at 221B Baker Street. This setting gives the story that nostalgic callback to the classic novels. In fact, the episodes themselves follow the original novels closely. Why reinvent the wheel? Arthur Conan Doyle created a fantastic, popular story back in 1887. The BBC merely takes the already-familiar story and gives it a modern twist.  

Sherlock bbc pbs
Benedict Cumberbatch (L) Martin Freeman (R)

Another reason why the BBC’s Sherlock has been so successful, in my opinion, is Steven Moffat. Steven Moffat is a brilliant director. He directed several episodes of Doctor Who and when he departed from the show, his fanbase cried out in anguish. His writing presents itself in the dialogue as sharp and witty. Moffat also chose the perfect cast for this show. Benedict Cumberbatch has this mysterious sex appeal that cannot be explained, but is evident in his mass following of “Cumberbitches.” Martin Freeman is the perfect Watson. As we saw in his portrayal of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, he has mastered the role of a character who appears bumbling but is perfectly competent. With a team like this, how could you go wrong?

Sherlock’s Future

There have been hints of a fifth season in the works, but a release date is unknown at this point. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have both been extremely busy with other projects, such as Doctor Strange and Black Panther, respectively. Generally, new seasons come out in January, but that’s not happening this year. Producers are optimistic for the next year, however. “Sherlocked” fans are holding onto hope that our beloved characters will return very soon!  


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About the author

Melissa Pemberton

ESL Teacher, Grammar Nerd, Unofficial Avenger