sherlockThis article was written as an assignment for LCS 463 Topics in Comparative Literature – focusing this semester on the international detective novel taught by Professor Martha Kuhlman.

Sherlock Holmes is back. The television show Sherlock by BBC has brought the iconic detective Sherlock Holmes to the twenty first century, giving him both the look and the intelligence that all the fans want. Rest assured, the core values of the famous Sherlock Holmes still remain the same even though the character has been given significant updates to fit in with the modern settings, as well as making him look more attractive to young audiences. Sherlock Holmes is the new icon for sexy: intellectual sexiness.

The most significant upgrade in the character is his technological advancement. Living in the twenty first century, Sherlock Holmes is extremely skillful and knowledgeable about new technologies that would assist him in crime solving. In episode one, a Study in Pink, all Sherlock had to work with was a cell phone and a name scratched on the floor. With his knowledge of how the GPS system works, Sherlock was able to trace the murderer, and confronted him face to face.

Traditional Sherlock’s fans will not forget the fact that the famous detective was a drug addict who often resorted to cocaine or morphine for restlessness. However, the “new” Sherlock is clean from all drug practices, and yet, still finds another way to help him think when he is bored: nicotine patches. Nicotine patches are safe alternatives compared to drugs, yet they still do the same job for Holmes. This is “good news for the lungs, but bad news for the brain” because Holmes overly abuses the use of those patches. However, on the bright side, Holmes is an advocate for non-smoking because “it is impossible to sustain a smoking habit in London these days.”

Let us not forget to mention that the new Holmes is also witty. If the old Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a “calculating machine” that paid no attention to romance or beauty, the new Holmes is very observant of the opposite gender’s beauty or fashion statement. In A Sign of Four, Holmes did not notice the beauty of Ms. Morstan, claiming “a client is to me (Holmes) a mere unit, a factor in a problem. The emotional qualities are antagonistic to clear reasoning.” But now, he can identify a person’s fashion statement or change in appearance, and use that as a weapon for his advantage. In the series, Holmes noticed that his colleague, Molly Hooper, changed her lipsticks or hairstyle and complimented her on those changes. Molly, now elated because Holmes “notices” her, would listen to his demands. Even Holmes has just a pinch of sensitivity for romance; the new Holmes is more human and less robotic. But he still won’t ask her out.

The new Sherlock Holmes has given a new twist to the all time favorite detective, while still retains the detective’s core values. Sherlock Holmes and his companion, Dr. Watson, still ride around London in public transport by utilizing the London cabs instead of carriage rides. Moreover, the new Sherlock Holmes is tech-savvy, having his own website called “The Science of Deductions” instead of publishing a book. Originally

Holmes would amaze others by using his powers of deduction to draw out the whole family background of the opponents; now, he does the same thing. Sherlock can tell a software designer by the tie he is wearing, a pilot by his thumb, or a military doctor by his appearance.

The question that many people would ask here is “What is so special about this Sherlock Holmes character that makes him so popular until now?” The answer would be: “What is not to like about this character?” Holmes is a legendary icon for intelligence, adventure, justice and mystery. He gives people an escape from their normal, mundane lives. He gives people a chance to live an exciting alternative life, and uphold justice for society.

People have always been attracted to sexiness, and the character Sherlock Holmes gives them another type of sexiness that far surpasses physical attraction: intelligence. It is undeniable that Sherlock Holmes is wicked smart. He uses selective observation to draw out small details that common people would never notice. He can guess a person’s occupation and personality by observing their outfit, or he can identify where that person is from by just looking at the dirt on their shoes. Since we are continuously amazed by his findings from his research, we are curious to know what else Sherlock Holmes can do.

Above all, Sherlock Holmes lives a life of adventure. He is constantly involved in intriguing and dangerous cases. Several times Holmes is under the threat of death, yet with his shrewdness, Holmes is able to turn the situation around and bring victory for justice. We, as “normal, boring” people, are drawn into his reckless and adventurous life—a life that gives us a glimpse into something beyond the ordinary. Sherlock Holmes is also mysterious, and that makes us want to know more about him. In the books, we know nothing about Holmes’s background or family history, except the fact that Holmes has an older brother who is also supremely intelligent. His behaviors are eccentric, his lifestyle is unique, his interests and knowledge in crimes are unexplainable, and his talents are limitless. Holmes can be a detective, an actor, a boxer, or a violinist. Even though we have read many stories about his achievements, yet it seems like we do not know much about him. Holmes is so smart in hiding information about himself that his closest friend, Dr. Watson, does not know any more than we do. This is a key that makes Sherlock Holmes still a popular public figure. He is so mysterious that people just want to know more about him.

There are many things to talk about regarding Sherlock Holmes and his interesting characters. People of different generation have been updating the image of the famous detective to be suitable with certain eras. However, no matter how old you are, you are still attracted to Sherlock Holmes’s wit and adventurous life. He is the icon for popularity and mystery, and a new figure for attractiveness – intellectual sexy.