Steven Moffat Rebuffs Criticism of Sherlock’s Female Characters

Steven Moffat is one heck of a successful writer. As well as running two of the biggest shows on British television – one of them is Doctor Who, the other is this detective show you might have heard of – he has been awarded an OBE for services to TV. Still, you can’t please everyone and Moffat has often come under scrutiny from feminists for his female characters.

Speaking to INews, Moffat defended the women of Sherlock and explained why he thinks he has done a good job:

“I massively expanded the role of Mrs Hudson in Sherlock. Mary Watson dies in the end because she always did. With Molly Hooper we gave Sherlock more of a female voice than ever.”

He also admitted that Sherlock is fundamentally “the story of two blokes”.

“What am I supposed to do with that?” he elaborated. “Make one of them a woman? We chose not to do that.”

Finally, he added: “The last Sherlock episode was a massive hit on any viewing metric scale. You can’t take a few commentators to be the voice of the audience.”

So do you agree with what Moffat has said? Do you have a problem with how he writes female characters? Please let us know in the comments below…

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9 thoughts on “Steven Moffat Rebuffs Criticism of Sherlock’s Female Characters

  1. The show is about Holmes and Watson. The rest of the characters add dimension to the stories that makes it an intriguing and successful show, but it’s still Sherlock and John. It’s not sexist or stereotypical, it simply is. I admire how closely this show follows the basic rules of their world. You can take creative liberties from a solid foundation. Didn’t “The Abominable Bride” do a lot to address gender roles? I admire Moffat for not being shy in attacking moral issues while keeping the essence intact.

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  2. Typically, I begin to cringe if I see a modern show being executed with blatantly sexist gender roles, when it’s not a fundamental part of the plot. I’ve seen every episode of Sherlock, and – especially towards the end – the female characters were stronger than ever. In the beginning Mrs. Hudson may have been a bit flustered and scattered brained more than I’d like to see, but in the final episodes none of the women were to be trifled with. Mrs. Hudson is confident and in-command and takes an authority over Sherlock whom she knows better than he knows himself. Molly’s defenses and strength and independence are notably evident in her increasing coldness towards Sherlock. And Mary is arguably far superior to her husband – as much as we love him. She’s an assassin who is clearly more clever, sophisticated and powerful in the most subtle and respectable ways – so much so that by traditional standards her character should have been written as man. John is contrastingly less violent and more sweet, sensitive, and emotionally in-tune for a male. Hers and John’s gender roles are absolutely reversed! Sexism is the last problem this show has.

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  3. Personally, I think the writers of ‘Sherlock’ have done a phenomenal job with the female roles. They are not stereotypical or demeaning, as are so many female roles that I come across. I also like how the show is spearheaded by women (Sue and Beryl); I mean, Steven has even said that the show would not have happened had Sue not pushed him and Mark to do it before someone else did. And, I’m thoroughly pleased that they kept Holmes and Watson as males. I don’t watch ‘Elementary’ because Watson as a female feels forced to me. (I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the show/role; it’s just not to my liking.)

    As for the criticism of the last episode? It isn’t just a ‘few voices’; it’s a lot of them. And, it’s the voices of the fandom that have been here since Day 1. So, I take offence that he just shrugs it off like it doesn’t matter. I don’t doubt that it’s a critical success–the writing and acting were astounding. I was honestly blown away by a lot of it and, if Benedict and Martin don’t get BAFTAs and Emmys for what they did, then there’s no justice in this world. But, when you consider the last episode as part of the whole series? It is lacking for some of us who have been with the show from the start. There are plot inconsistencies; still unanswered questions considering this episode and season was supposedly meant to tie up ‘all the loose ends’ and be a stopping point of sorts. I mean, the entire fourth season has plenty of holes and things that just don’t quite add up. I’m not saying that the season was a wash–I enjoy it. But, it leaves me unsettled, almost like there’s a missing piece or something. And, again, for all I know, that may be the point. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sexism is one of the three biggest problem this show has. The other ones are queerbaiting and two narcissists writers who are not capable of any respect or at least to be honest with their fans.

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    • There has never been any queerbaiting on this show. The person who made this comment is most likely a TJLC’r, (which stands for The Johnlock Conspiracy), a group who have decided that Sherlock and Watson are in love and that the creators of Sherlock have put all sorts of subtext into the show that proves it. Only thing is, they’re the only ones who see it, and the shows creators and two main cast members (Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman) have repeatedly said that’s not the show they’re making. It’s not their fault if this group refuses to believe it. This group is a bunch of over entitled fans of a show in their heads, they’re NOT fans of Sherlock. And quite a lot of them are extremely pushy, actually resorting to tweeting the shows creators, cast and crew with rude comments after series 3 and 4 because the Johnlock kiss they were positive would happen, didn’t. This person’s comment is nothing but crap. The shows writers love and respect the real fans of Sherlock.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Irene was always an intelligent, cunning woman. She even gets the best of Sherlock with her wit. That’s why he was intrigued by her.
    Moffat’s Irene has to be a dominatrix? So she takes advantage using sex instead of brains. That’s a loss and a disgrace to Irene and women.

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  6. I love Moffat’s point of view. I think that it is ridiculous that people now a days are getting so offended by everything that a story that has been around for ages, and a director who isn’t about to change the basis of the show just to make some people feel special is offensive. People are offended by reality and it’s ridiculous. Thank you Moffat for creating a wonderful show and doing what you could to make it even more amazing without making a new story that “wouldn’t offend anyone”.

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  7. i haven’t watched s4 so not sure if things change but i had no issue with the woman in the series. even though they’re not out there risking their lives like sherlock and john, you can tell they’re important, esp Mrs Hudson and Molly. I don’t know too much about Mary’s role

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