I don't want Lucy Liu to play Holmes. I like her as Joan Watson.
Before the pilot leaked, I might have thought otherwise. But, now? No. I don't want her as Elementary's
Sherlock. Because I LIKE that the show, via Watson, does not put up with Holmes' bullshit.
And if you think Liu!Watson is 'problematic', imagine if their roles were reversed, so you have an Asian Am woman who is strange, abrasive, off-putting, calculating, unable to connect with people -- which, maybe if you're a white woman would be a more 'diverse' role; for poc... I see a lot more pitfalls, or ways in which this feeds certain racialized stereotypes -- and a white guy telling her to behave and apologizing for her and explaining her actions. That's not what I want to watch.
I'm not opposed to two women of colour playing the lead roles -- because, you know, if a white woman were playing Holmes, while that too is awesome, that does not automatically reassure me that it would treat Liu!Watson well. In fact, I could see it do the exact opposite and focus mainly on the white woman Holmes, because, hey, that's how feminism works on US tv shows, right? I don't want to watch that either.
The show isn't called Sherlock/Sherlock Holmes
. It's called Elementary
, which I gather isn't even part of Conan Doyle's stories. I'm fine with that. The first main cast member we see is Watson. She's on screen for a significant amount of time, with Holmes and on her own. I have a lot of recognition glee
when I watch her on screen. I like that she's the more empathetic and quieter (except maybe when watching baseball games or yelling at Holmes) one; that her softness is strength. I don't know if I would react the same way if she were Holmes, but I don't think her being Watson, on this particular show, makes her lesser than him; I don't think her being in a caretaker role demeans her (a lot of woc are caretakers...). I don't think the narrative supports that.
If she were Watson on BBC Sherlock or the recent movies...well, I don't even want to think about the mess that would be, given how both those adaptations are highly racist/orientalist, which is sexist too (think about that for a minute).
But, in its pilot episode, Elementary
has managed not to do that. It could be better. It could have more POC in the cast (and has plans to have 2 more POC that I know of; IDK if they're going to be recurring roles, though, or who else is guest starring). It could be more diverse on other fronts. But Lucy Liu's Watson -- as they've portrayed her in the pilot, I mean, not just her being cast in the role -- is pretty amazing, to me.
(I reserve the right to change my mind if the show ends up being awful, but I'm kind of bothered by all the 'I'd watch if Liu were Holmes' comments I keep seeing. I don't believe you. I feel like there'd be other reasons not to watch. Or, I mean, I don't care if you don't want to watch the show, just don't say it's because Liu/Watson doesn't meet your feminist standards, especially for stuff that hasn't happened. If you don't want to watch because the pilot opens with a woman-in-peril, then, yeah, I totally support that reason, for feminism!! There are a lot of reasons not to watch the show, but I don't think Lucy Liu as Watson is one of them.)