Any book adaptation be it to movie or TV series is a risk. Then there are classics that shouldn’t be messed with but instead adapted as close to the original as possible with minimal changes. At least that’s the approach most of the producers choose. Then there are the more adventures creators who flip a classic almost entirely and take that extra leap of faith. More often than not it turns out to be a success. As an example let me take Elementary: the show that adapted the story of Sherlock Holmes with some major changes, just look at Watson being a female.
I wasn’t really the biggest fan of Sherlock Holmes but there’s something compelling in the change. Since this piece is a part of my series I like my women… we’re going to focus on the women rather than the way the shows changes from the source material. Although I personally think that the changes made the series more interesting.
Although there are few, all of the women with a significant role share one essential characteristic: they all adapt to the changes and circumstances they face. But even though they adapt, they aren’t weak.
If you wanted to write another exact adaptation of the books, the character of Joan Watson wouldn’t exist. She would be John Watson, Sherlocks trusted friend and partner. The result of changing John into a Joan gave the producers an interesting new spin on the dynamics between the duo and many other personal storylines that wouldn’t work for a man.
But let’s focus on why Joan herself is an interesting character.
As a former surgeon and doctor Joan is an educated and intelligent women. After the death of one of her patients, she changes her profession. She becomes a sober companion and helps recovering addicts transition into everyday life. That’s how she meets Sherlock, his father hires her.
Although their partnership had a rocky start, Joan was intrigued with Sherlocks profession from the beginning. It fascinated her how he solved crimes and how he saw puzzle’s in everything. Not long after that, she decided to change her own job and also become a detective. Thus the dynamic duo was born. Holmes mentored Joan, and in exchange, she made him a better detective and helped him focus and deal with his emotions. They became true partners. One could even say soulmates although not in the romantic way.
The dynamic changed because Watson’s a woman but at the core, the relationship is still like the original. Based on trust, mutual respect, and care for each other. It’s even more impressive to see such a platonic relationship between a man and a woman on a TV show. More often then not, chemistry between actors of the opposite sex equals a romantic relationship. Thankfully, Elementary didn’t go that route.
One has to admit that the partnership between Watson and Sherlock had it’s ups and downs. Like his relapse or her secrecy concerning her employment status in the beginning. In the end, Joan proves that she really cares about Sherlock and even relocates to England for him. Although she’s not really happy there, I don’t think it was a purely selfless decision. Her work with Sherlock gives Watson too much satisfaction to just give it up. Furthermore, she excels at her job.
All of Watson’s jobs were focused on helping people, although in different ways. She’s a caring person who wants to do what’s right and has a strong moral compass. Though that doesn’t mean that she’s not willing to bend or break the rules for people she cares about or the right cause.
Joan Watson is a character that embraced change and mastered the skill of adapting.
Irene Adler/ Jamie Moriarty
Irene Adler, one Sherlock Holmes great love. It was her death that pushed him over the edge.
As it later turned out, she didn’t die but rather disappeared and became the serial killer Moriarty, or rather got back to being Moriarty. As she admitted, she wanted to kill Sherlock in the beginning but his mind fascinated her, as it rivaled her own. Jamie is highly intelligent. Sherlock interrupted some of her schemes before she became Irene and he fell in love with her. It was a plot devised by Moriarty to study Holmes’ behavior and mind.
Even more interestingly, Moriarty shows an admiration for Watson and even protects her when her life is threatened. This proves that she’s capable of some kind of empathy and human emotion, although I personally think she had a personal gain in the matter.
Jamie Moriarty is not only a criminal mastermind but also a genius at adapting. The always changing circumstances of a life as criminal made her a chameleon that can adapt to any circumstances. Ensuring that she reaches her goals most of the time.
Sherlocks newest protegee, Kitty Winter, is a young girl that had a hard life. She was a kidnapping and rape victim. Holmes started mentoring her in London whilst being split from Watson.
Kitty saw the mentoring as an opportunity to not only learn something new but also catch her torturer and get revenge for what happened to her. Something she achieved in the end, although she didn’t kill the perpetrator who hurt her. After that she returns to England.
Over her time on screen, she has shown great admiration for both Watson and Holmes. She even followed Joan in the beginning because she intrigued her. Their relationship evolved slowly but the came to really care about each other. So much so that it was Kitty who first noticed that Joan wasn’t happy in England. Kitty is someone who was forced to adapt but made the best of it. She quickly learned that if she didn’t adapt, nothing would change. She also saw that change can be good as proved by her becoming a mother and finally finding happiness.
The thing all the women on Elementary have in common is Sherlock Holmes. He’s the one that brought them together. Furthermore he’s the one who changed their lives. With that being said, the hard work they put into adapting to new circumstances and forging their way is their own.
Although I don’t really care for the other characters besides Joan, I find it compelling how such different characters could be united with that specific characteristic. Especially if you take into account that they come from different backgrounds and have different experiences, values, and goals.
It proves that no matter the circumstances, what’s important is how you adapt to them and what you make out of them. The outcome depends on you.
Images Courtesy of CBS