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Why Women Want SherlockRobert Viglasky / Hartswood Films /PBS

Why Women Want Sherlock


Jan 24 2014
Sherlock Holmes is not your typical TV hunk or superhero, but still has millions of female fans obsessed.

"Mad About Sherlock," declares the cover of Entertainment Weekly above the face of Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the BBC's latest version of the character. The show returned to the U.S. last weekend, drawing 4 million to PBS.

One of our most enduring literary characters and beloved imports from Great Britain, Sherlock Holmes currently headlines a successful movie franchise, CBS show, and hit BBC import … some 126 years after his first adventure, A Study in Scarlet, was published in 1887.

The U.K. premiere earlier this month broke a Twitter record, thanks mostly to feverish tweets sent by women. Show-runner Steven Moffat acknowledges the "huge female following," and claims the trend dates back to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Victorian fanbase. Moffat attributes it to Sherlock's good looks, and Cumberbatch brings to the role his own weird but compelling features.

But it's more than looks that keep Sherlock's fanbase swooning. Perhaps, much like John Watson (Martin Freeman on BBC), we recognize the complex character behind the well-known investigative methods. Sherlock's intelligence, ability to read between the lines, and choice of companions date back to Doyle's original character, and the BBC's version also gets at the beating heart of what makes him a great man.

The show highlights a male hero who breaks our hypermasculine stereotypes while demonstrating qualities we also find in a mature Christian life: Sensitivity to those around us, friendships that support growth, investment into community, and a discerning focus on truth. No wonder he gets our attention.

Brainy Is the New Sexy

Caryn Rivadeneira

Whenever I share my love of Sherlock with other female fans, I wait for their knowing smiles; the ones that say, Yeah. He's hot. Isn't he?

I fight every instinct to defend my life-long love of mysteries. To say that I watched Murder, She Wrote on primetime in high school—just like my grandma. That I loved Monk and Scooby Doo. And that, with the exception of a certain Hardy Boy when I was 5, I've managed to enjoy mysteries without the aid of a character crush.

But alas, their knowing smiles get something right. Though Sherlock can yield a fine sword and though we probably all nearly fell off the sofa during that kiss in the Season 3 opening moments, it's not any machismo we appreciate with Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock. His sex appeal falls outside from what culture generally says women should find sexy (far from the Mark Driscolls of the world who claim women want and need tough guys).

Related Topics:Friendship; Manhood; Television
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