Today it is time for a rant about something in fiction that really annoy me. High up on this list is homosexual subtext, something that appears to mostly plague TV shows and movies. Once, it appealed, and I thought ‘Isn’t the writer kindly setting up potential slash-fic for so many fanfiction authors out there? Aren’t they being open-minded and accepting?’ and other such positive thoughts. But then I thought: If the writer were being open-minded an accepting, wouldn’t they have actually made the characters an out-in-the-open homosexual couple?
I read an an article a while ago about the BBC series Sherlock. Among other things, they interviewed Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman about Holmes/Watson slash. It was kind of hilarious. Especially when you imagine Benedict Cumberbatch, talking about fanfiction. In his voice. He is even describe at one point as ‘nervously giggling’. But I digress. I also think I just broke my internet by googling Benedict Cumberbatch too much. Anyhow, the point is, a comment was made in this article by Gatiss that they had “had a lot of fun” with the idea that Holmes and Watson might be a couple, or might be mistaken for one. This scene sums up the way the show treats a potential relationship between Holmes and Watson. On the other hand, Cumberbatch also very explicitly says that there is no actual romantic relationship between Holmes and Watson in the show.
What annoys me, then, is that while the writers are unwilling, for whatever reason, to actually explore the concept of Holmes and Watson being in a homosexual relationship, they are perfectly happy to use the idea of such a relationship as a source of ‘fun’ and a joke for their viewers. Homosexuality is not just there in fiction for that awkward ‘people thought we were a couple but we’re actually not’ joke. That joke is so, so overused. To stop bashing Sherlock (because I am actually a huge fan of the show) and move onto something else – the Doctor Who episode “Closing Time” exhibits all the same issues. Half the episode runs solely on the joke that the Doctor and Craig appear to be a couple, and everyone assumes as much, even though they’re not. If a show is so willing to mention and address homosexuality, surely they should be willing to actually show it on screen.
I realise that Doctor Who – and perhaps Sherlock, although I can’t remember off the top of my head – does have same-sex couples on screen and various times. I am especially a fan of Madame Vastra and Jenny from “A Good Man Goes to War”. And Doctor Who did use a very similar joke to the one with the Doctor and Craig, but with the Doctor and Donna. However, I don’t think they ever felt the need to base an entire episode upon it, simply because one wouldn’t think you can derive so much humour from two people not being a couple. Unless of course they’re gay, and you’re showing how accepting you are of the fact that they could be. If you want to be accepting, cut the subtext, and put it in the actual text. That is all.