Why ‘Elementary’ is Far Superior to ‘Sherlock’

[Ed. note: In most geek circles, the BBC’s modern interpretation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories — starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman — gets most of the praise and attention from fans. In 2012, CBS put its own Sherlock Holmes adaptation on the air in the form of Elementary with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as the iconic Holmes and Watson. Needless to say, we at the NOC prefer the latter. Here are ten reasons why. — KC]

Oh yes, I go there.


10.) The Magical Speshul White Guy Actually Gets Called Out On His BS

Unlike the BBC’s Sherlock, who’s consistently a dick to everyone and gets a pass because he’s white and “speshul,” Elementary’s Sherlock, while also a dick, actually gets called out on his antics and there are repercussions for said antics.

And true to the original text, Elementary’s Sherlock actually respects human beings even if they aren’t on his level.

9.) Elementary Featured Multiple Asians In An Episode Without Epic Racefail

If you saw Season 1, Episode 2 of BBC’s Sherlock,The Blind Banker,” you know exactly the fuckery that I’m referencing.

8.) Elementary features a superior Irene Adler and Moriarty

I would explain how but that would be spoilers.

7.) The setting takes place in a realistic world

Unlike BBC’s Sherlock that takes place in a very whitewashed London, Elementary takes place in a diverse New York where POCs can be seen everywhere: in the background, as police officers, as execs being interviewed for cases, as recurring characters, in all socio-economic classes from all walks of like.

6.) Virtually no heterosexist/homophobic jokes

Unlike Sherlock Writer/Exec Producer Steve Moffatt who makes so many homophobic jokes in Sherlock that making a drinking game out of it could lead to alcohol poisoning, the writers of Elementary keep their comedy a tad more sophisticated and a tad less offensive.

Because as an LGBTQ, I just love having my orientation mocked every time I watch a TV show.

5.) The writers of Elementary actually know how to write women (of color)

Irene Adler notwithstanding, the BBC’s Sherlock is not a fine example of multifaceted female characters. On Elementary, though, Dr. Joan Watson is no sidekick and consistently proves herself to be Sherlock’s equal time and time again. And how many shows — American or British — can say that about their heroines of color?

4.) Half of the main Elementary cast is comprised of people of color.

Jon Michael Hill as Det. Marcus Bell (which I love the nod to Joseph Bell, and given to the black guy no less) and Dr. Joan Watson.

Both of whom get screen time and stations and agency. More than that, recurring characters are also POCs, OH EM EFFIN GEE, IT’S LIKE THE NAACP UP IN THIS MOTHERFRACKER. Speaking of recurring characters…

3.) A Trans Ms. Hudson

Elementary not only puts a new spin on an iconic character, but she’s also a formidable muse and fierce in her own right. And said trans character is played by talented trans actress, Candis Cayne.

2.) Frequent shirtless scenes featuring one Jonny Lee Miller

Let’s keep it 100 people, as far as sexy Sherlocks go, Miller’s got it.

img_0007Case in point: img_0006



Elementary features Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson. That’s right. Elementary has one of Charlie’s Angels; O-Ren Ishii herself, no less. For her inclusion alone, Elementary wins and your argument is invalid.


BBC, you can keep your racist White Khan-Artists and your homophobic hobbits. Lucy Liu trumps all.

Why? Elementary!!!!!!! My Dear Watson!!!!!!


22 thoughts on “Why ‘Elementary’ is Far Superior to ‘Sherlock’

  1. Okay, that’s it! I’ve been ignoring this show for too damn long while hearing great things about it from everybody.

    I’m on it!

  2. I love both. They are different. The BBC’s interpretation is an up to date but traditional take on the story. I adore Elementary for so many of the same reasons you mentioned, but on top of doing all that the alterations feel natural and unforced. I adore Elementary.

  3. I so agree with this! While obviously the show could *even better* (more Marcus, more Ms. Hudson, maybe some non hetersexual relationships) I just wanted to say how awesome it is that the trans character Ms. Hudson is actually played by a trans actress. That’s the way it’s done, folks.

  4. I really liked the way the early Elementary episodes transposed the characters from the Holmes books into the modern age and reinvented the stories. I am not so sure as to how faithful to the original idea the new shows are, as many of the original tales were so gentle. That said I think there is scope for a whole season set outside NYC. What about transposing the “Valley of Fear” story to LA or Tennessee?

  5. I have always enjoyed the work of the cast, and the backgrounding of ‘Elementary.’ Lucy Liu’s wardrobe is a star in and of itself, perfectly in character. The range and variety of actors involved is, as observed, praiseworthy as can possibly be. But The Plots, OMG, the warmed-over canned-chicken-soup plots and stone-deaf dialog (except for Liu and Miller) . . .

  6. At first I was like… Sherlock has no competition…. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some shirtless… I mean Lucy Liu to go watch.

  7. Yes!!! Also, it’s much more fun and less pretentious. The BBC’s Sherlock thinks it’s great, which is one of the main things that annoy me about it.

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