16 Times Sherlock Drove Us All Crazy

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Benedict Cumberbatch in some snazzy Victorian wear in “The Abominable Bride”. (Photo: Courtesy of © Robert Viglasky/Hartswood Films and BBC Wales for BBC One and MASTERPIECE)

When Sherlock Explained Feminism to a Bunch of Victorian Ladies

Much of Victorian special “The Abominable Bride” focuses on how Sherlock, as a show, treats female characters. It’s got Sherlock repeatedly getting confronted by women he’s wronged. Molly Hooper dresses up like a man so she can reach her full potential in Victorian society. Mrs. Hudson openly complains that she’s capable of more than serving tea. The episode’s main mystery ties into the suffragette movement. Women are everywhere here, much more so than in a traditional episode. That’s great, right? Not exactly.

The episode ends with an outrageously bizarre sequence after Sherlock discovers murderous ghost bride Emilia Ricoletti inspired a string of copycat lady murderers. A cult-like group of suffragettes – who happen to gather in church basements wearing KKK-esque hooded robes – are using the cover of the “bride” to enact revenge on men who had wronged them. During his explanation of events, Sherlock launches into an extremely uncomfortable speech about women’s rights. He basically takes a few minutes to mansplain the concept of feminism to a roomful of suffragettes and it is … as awful as you’d expect.

To be fair, the scene is clearly meant with good intentions – though the KKK-style attire is harder to justify. Sherlock has struggled in the past with how it presents female characters. On paper, a lengthy speech from the series’ main character about the importance – and necessity – of female equality seems great. But watching a generally pompous man explain the need for women’s rights to the very women that don’t have those rights was pretty terrible. (Plus, for all the fact that “Abominable Bride” featured so many female characters? It still failed the Bechdel Test. Come on.) The fact that Sherlock recognizes that these issues are important is admirable. The fact that this is the way it chooses to engage with them is disappointing.

Number of eyerolls: 9