This has slowly become the decade of the heroine. Where our fantasy stories and science fiction tales used to be centered solely around the white male perspective, the last five years have seen a paradigm shift, with women-led Star Wars movies and Star Trek TV shows, shows like Outlander that celebrate the female gaze, films like Wonder Woman breaking box office records and of course a female regenerated Doctor Who. And now Benedict Cumberbatch wants a female Sherlock to take over the role when he's done.
For those who think that's a bit left field, it's actually not. Sherlock and Doctor Who have both been under the showrunner direction of Steven Moffat for the last decade, and many fans cross over from one to the other -- as well as see similarities in the modern interpretation of Sherlock Holmes with the Mad Mad Timelord in a Box. Fans have even hoped for a cross over episode for some time. But with Moffat taking his leave of Doctor Who this Christmas, that was not to be.
Doctor Who recently broke the internet this summer when they announced the 13th regeneration of the Doctor would be, for the first time, not into a man, but a woman. So why not Sherlock?
The 13th Doctor being cast as a woman technically wasn't Moffat's call. Jodie Whittaker was cast by the incoming showrunner, Chris Chibnall, who worked with her on the hit series Broadchurch. But it's a plot twist Moffat has been setting up since the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi, was cast. So why not set up Sherlock to do the same?
Benedict Cumberbatch, the star of Sherlock, is currently doing the rounds for his latest BBC production, The Child In Time. (It airs over on PBS in December.) He was recently asked about how he felt about the new Doctor on Moffat's other show, and he gave a ringing endorsement.
It's an alien – why can't it be a woman? Why can't it be any gender? I think she's an extraordinary actress and we're lucky culturally to have got her to agree to do it. Just go for it – let's see what happens.
But he didn't stop there. Frankly, he thinks that there should be a female Sherlock Holmes as well. Though perhaps recognizing how badly it be marketed, he joked, "Why not? Sherlockina – it's coming to you soon!"
Jokes aside, gender flipping the lead roles in well known properties is Hollywood's new go-to in rebooting series. There are times when it works. Think Starbuck and Boomer in the Battlestar Galactica reboot at the beginning of the decade. Rey in Star Wars, for instance, has made a huge cultural impact, backed up by roles like Jyn Erso in the stand alone Rogue One movie. And Ghostbusters, despite the Twitter complaints, has also been an influence on young girls.
There are some points where gender-flipping in order to reboot as series is more self evident -- think the new Ocean's Ocho movie, which is the all female spin off of Ocean's 11. While the idea sounds like it might work, despite the obviousness of the ploy, until it shows up, we won't really know. Same with the new Star Trek -- everyone is assume this will work, but until we see the final product at the end of the month, we're going on hope and faith.
But there are times when gender-flipping doesn't work. Recently, Warner Brothers, caught up in a "gender-flip all the things!" moment, greenlit an all-female Lord of the Flies... failing to consider that the entire plot of that novel is based on toxic masculinity. The internet laughed at them for days.
Would a women lead Sherlock work? It would be an incredibly interesting experience, especially if like the BBC version, it set itself in modern day London. It's a time of Brexit, featuring Theresa May versus Andrea Merkel, with the Personification of American's Toxic Sexism lurking across the pond. I'd tune in anyway.