I’m going to go on the record here and say that the BBC’s “Sherlock” is FAR superior to the CBS Sherlock show “Elementary“. The quality is better in every single way, the writing is smarter, the stories are bolder, and the shocks and twists are more breathtaking. But, besides all of that brilliance, it’s the casting that takes it to the next level. Martin Freeman is the perfect version of John Watson, and Benedict Cumberbatch has given, in my opinion, the best interpretation of Sherlock Holmes EVER. The genius of the shows creators is that they’ve come up with a Sherlock Holmes that seems to be feasible possibility in the world we live in. As much as I love the original stories, there is something so much more real about the Holmes Sherlock has brought us. He’s more aloof, more dangerous, almost to sociopathic levels (Holmes even calls himself a “high functioning sociopath”), but yet intensely more human. The Holmes of the original stories was almost robotic in his characterization, but the modern Holmes has more layers to him, and I like that.
I’ve often heard many people say they wish they were like Sherlock Holmes, and while it’s a tempting proposition, I feel they look only at the surface of him, not the internal. The internal makings of Holmes are far more fascinating, but also dangerous. When Holmes describes himself as a “high functioning sociopath”, it’s a perfect characterization. Sociopathic behavior is defined by enduring antisocial behavior, diminished empathy and remorse, and uninhibited or bold behavior, and Sherlock Holmes does all of these things. In his own words, he’s a “sociopath who solves crimes as an alternative to getting high”. He rarely goes by social convention, he lies, manipulates, and often breaks the law without any real thought or care behind who it may hurt (or at least he makes it appear that way). He is, by the very definition, a sociopath. And yet, he cares deeply for the few trusted people in his life, namely John Watson. There’s a small but intense humanity inside of him, and like all things about Sherlock Holmes, he takes the traits inside of him to extremes. While many would say Holmes’ greatest gift is his mind, I contend with that opinion. Holmes’ greatest gift is his humanity.
It is his humanity that drives everything. While Holmes would never admit it, this is what I believe is true. Without his humanity all of his gifts would go towards malice, not towards helping others. When I look at Sherlock Holmes I think of how Raymond Chandler described his titular hero Phillip Marlowe: “He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world… If he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things.” That is Sherlock Holmes. Despite his imperfections and social maladjustment, he’s an honorable man, and that is what his humanity gives him. What Sherlock Holmes teaches me is that no matter how brilliant our gifts are, without our humanity, without love, it’s for nothing.
We must always view the gifts God has given us with a mindset of using it to help others. We are called to love, and God gave us our gifts to love others to bring glory to Him. Sherlock Holmes isn’t about being clever, at least not in my mind. He may be the most brilliant mind in all of popular culture, but it’s his heart that drives everything else. And the same should be true for us.
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