I was looking through my old files and found this gem of an article that I never posted. My views have changed a bit since I wrote this, but since Season 4 Sherlock has come and gone, it is well time for me to unload this commentary on the world. I appreciate your comments.
Alright, I've been quiet because I enjoy watching the ships go by, but it is finally time for me to weigh in on the debate of Sherlock and John's sexual orientation.
The Tragedy of BBC's SHERLOCK
Now the fandom has its preferences as seen by the fact that the largest ship in the Sherlock fandom is Johnlock. And why not? Romantic comedies are the norm for modern stories. We expect the romantic ending to the story. It fades to black, and we go home confident that love has conquered all, but if we expect this of BBC Sherlock, then we are forgetting something important.
Who is writing this story, and what story is it based on?
Who is writing this story?
Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat.
Let’s talk about Moffat, a man who has admitted that it fills him with glee to watch us cry our hearts out. Why, oh why would you trust him to give you a happy ending? It must be because of all the other happy season endings he's given us, like season 1 when Moriarty...oh...I mean season 2 when Sherlock died...um… Well there was season three when Sherlock…no.
Do you see what I mean? Even in The Game of Three which must have been the fluffiest episode they've ever made, it ended with Sherlock going home... sad and alone.
What is the inspiration?
The Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes by Billy Wilder
That had a happy ending, didn't it?
Irene Adler showed up sans memory and hugged Sherlock while scantily clad. They took her in. They went undercover and Sherlock pretended to be her husband (They shared a room). Watson was sure that Sherlock fancied her, but in the end she double crossed them, and left. She was later executed as a spy.
But the text of the movie is not what it is know for. The secret life of Sherlock Holmes is known best for the subtext.
There was a notable joke right at the beginning that Moffit and Gatiss have mentioned specifically where to avoid offending a ballerina who asks him to sleep with her, Sherlock implies that he is gay. When the dancers find out, all of the women Watson was dancing with bow out, and Watson finds himself surrounded by fit young men. When he finds out why, he just about kills Sherlock telling him that he is straight and he can bring women as witnesses to his sexual prowess from three different continents if asked by the police. When he asks Sherlock if he can do the same, Sherlock says nothing.
John Watson in this story is straight, and proud to say so. Sherlock says nothing, so we must let his actions speak for themselves. Although interested in Irene Adler in what may or may not be a romantic way, he doesn't make sexual or other advances on her, and in the end, he lets her go. On the other hand, he has been living alone with another man who he finds indispensable, and not in the same way as Mrs Hudson. Not as a utility, but as a friend and more than a friend.
Although Sherlock's celibacy and possible virginity come from ACD cannon where Sherlock eschews passions of a romantic kind, the subtext in the Billy Wilder movie is that Sherlock Holmes is gay.
So if the modern Sherlock Holmes is based on the movie, does it agree?
Yes. I think so. Look at the facts.
1. John Watson is straight.
I know that everyone pulls out the Watson is bisexual card, but if we take what he says and does at face value, he is a man interested in sex with women. He has never shown interest in having sex with men.
About Sholto – That was his commanding officer, and although there is obviously an almost fanatical loyalty that John shows to him, and vice versa, it is more of a taboo for an army man to sleep with their commanding officer than it is for him to sleep with another man. I don't think that John straight-arrow Watson would jeopardize his career that way. Longing looks, perhaps, but sex...no.
2. Sherlock never admits his sexual orientation
He doesn't, ever. People accuse them of being gay, he never says a word. He doesn't give a clue as to whether or not he prefers girlfriends or boyfriends. He is surprised at having “friends” at all.
3. He is celibate and possibly a virgin
The strongest evidence for Virginity is Mycroft's evil comment. When Sherlock says, “Sex doesn't alarm me.” He says, “How would you know?” Implying that Sherlock has never had sex.
He did not have sex, (or at least go all the way) with Janine as evidenced by her statement that it would have been nice to have done it at least once.
Then there is Moriarty whose nickname for Sherlock is “The Virgin”.
Also, although we see John go out on dates frequently, we never see Sherlock on one. We don't know what may or may not have gone on in the past, but it is clear that unless he is being extremely sneaky and hiding things successfully from both Mrs Hudson and John, that he does not go out on dates.
4. Sherlock's only serious relationship is with John
This is very strongly implied by everyone else's reaction to John, from Angelo, to Lestrade, to Mrs Hudson. We never see Sherlock without John as this is John's story, but everyone says that he was different and much worse before. Sherlock gets depressed when John is not there, and feels threatened by his girlfriends. He says it himself, “I don't have friends. I only have one.”
We can see that he goes so far as to give up years of his life and his good name to make sure that John remains safe, and he does things that he swears he will never do (like wear a tie) because it will make John happy, so Sherlock's view is pretty obvious. He is committed to this relationship whether John acknowledges it or not.
So what does this say in the end for us? Is Johnlock the end game?
I think not.
The end game is a tragicomedy.
John is fascinated with Sherlock and feels horrible when he is not there. John will not leave Sherlock. He will be his best friend and buddy till Sussex. The comedy is that these two best friends will be bumbling around London forever.
On the other hand, despite what Sherlock likes to tell himself, he is a bit of a romantic. He is romantically interested in John. He never wants him to leave, and he will do anything to keep him, even let him marry someone else, or make friends with someone who tried to kill him. He will go to prison forever or to his death for the price of one of John's smiles.
Sherlock is a man in love.
The tragedy is that John will never love him the same way.
They may end up in that cottage in Sussex, but there will be two bedrooms.
That is the Tragedy.
Has Moffat made you cry yet?
I thought so.