Aaannnddd the results are in! Someone suggested I make one of these for Sherlock. The percentages don’t really work as well, seeing as there are only 6 episodes.
There is something called the Bechdel Test. It’s a scale you run movies through to see how well they represent female characters.
The test is as follows: 1. It must have at least two named female characters. 2. They must speak to each other. 3. They must converse about something other than a man. Anything with a score lower than 3 fails.
I’ve run all of the episodes of BBC Sherlock through this test and here are my results:
Steven Moffat - Study in Pink - 1
Stephen Thompson - Blind Banker - 1
Mark Gattiss - Great Game - 1
Steven Moffat - Scandal in Belgravia - 3
Mark Gattiss - Hounds of Baskerville - 1
Stephen Thompson - Reichenbach - 1
50% of Steven Moffat’s episodes failed.
100% of Stephen Thompson’s episodes failed.
100% of Mark Gatiss’ episodes failed.
83% of episodes failed total.
Ouch. The only passing episode was Scandal in Belgravia, for a scene in which Irene and her assistant(?) Kate talk about what she should wear. They are talking about what she should wear to meet Sherlock, but since he isn’t mentioned, I gave it to them. Also, Mrs. Hudson and Molly might have talked at 221B later, but I already gave this a 3, so I didn’t look.
Sherlock failed badly. They had a number of female characters, but they’re never in the same room as each other. Hopefully next season we’ll get some Mary Morstan and things might change.
I also made one of these for Doctor Who, which you can find here.
I wish I could say that I’m surprised, but I’m not.
… But it also means that 50% of Steven Moffat’s episode passed the test. And he’s the only one.
Also, I don’t think you can run the test with Sherlock because it’s not original. Neither Moffat or Gatiss created the characters. Or if you do, then you have to do it with the books too, and good luck for finding a conversation between two women that is about something other than a man. Let me tell you, it doesn’t happen every page.
Female characters Sherlock used from canon: 2
Female characters that are original to Sherlock: Roughly 15
Female characters that were originally male in canon: 2
Granted, that’s from memory, but I think I did pretty well. Also, 50% out of 2 isn’t very impressive. Just like 1/6 episodes passing the Bechdel Test is very worrisome (especially when those episodes are 1.5 hours long). Don’t tell me Sherlock isn’t original, because it is very much so! How else are you going to put a Victorian detective into the modern world unless you put some ~originality~ into it.
Also, I could probably find a couple instances, but it’s difficult when everything is in first person from Watson’s view and most of the stories are heard from another person and gloss over personal interactions (given Holmes’ tendency to rush his clients through their stories). That doesn’t mean that a modern TV show can’t pass the test with the sheer amount of female characters it has.