In recent history, there have been movements advocating for conversation and change regarding traditional gender roles. As a central part of culture, British television has not escaped this scrutiny. BBC's crime drama Sherlock directed by Steven Moffat has received both critical acclaim and attention from the general public for its portrayal of women. In this essay, we venture into this conversation, and explore portrayals of existing gender roles and how the writers of the show choose to dissent with the audience's expectations of gender portrayal. We examine connections between past and present portrayals of the classic character, Sherlock Holmes, and how these portrayals oppose gender stereotypes. Four methods are examined in this essay to explore the portrayal of women and gender roles in Sherlock. Through strategic use of narrative, the unique way in which the plot is constructed; visuals, the persuasive use of motifs and symbolism; and language, or how word choice assists the viewer in understanding the underlying assumptions of the characters and rhetors. We chose to explore issues of gender roles and how stereotypes are refuted in the episode, “A Scandal in Belgravia,” because it has been the target of criticism for its portrayal of women. We conclude that the scriptwriters of Sherlock use rhetorical devices to challenge the audience's assumptions and to dissent against the way gender norms are typically portrayed on television. Ultimately, “A Scandal in Belgravia” breathes new life into a classic literary character, redefining gender expectations for a modern audience.
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Fogle, Krystal A. and Maisano, Toni
"The New Sexy: A Rhetorical Analysis of Sherlock,"
Conversations: A Graduate Student Journal of the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Theology: Vol. 1
, Article 3.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.acu.edu/conversations/vol1/iss2/3