Queer (Mis)recognition in the BBC’s Sherlock

Research paper published in the journal Adaptation. First published online on November 30, 2014 doi:10.1093/adaptation/apu039.

For all of its flirtation with the possibility of desire between men, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ BBC series Sherlock refuses to give its audience a straight answer about the sexuality of its central characters. Or, more pointedly, Sherlock’s contemporary rendition of a late-Victorian epistemology of the visible—in deductions drawn from what can be seen—may mean that it is unable to.

In this journal paper, I offer a way of thinking queerly about Sherlock that attends to the logic of its canonical source material in which knowledge about the world is drawn from what can be seen and consider its implications for an imagined post-homophobic cultural space. As Sherlock observes to John in the series’ opening episode ‘A Study in Pink’, he doesn’t ‘know’ things, he ‘sees’ them. This ‘seeing’, I argue, has particular consequences for how we are able to understand intimate relationships between men.

In plainer language, why does everyone keep mistaking John and Sherlock for a couple?