I understand that sexualized female characters on television are a dime a dozen, and for a viewer not familiar with the original source material, the amount of character assassination at work in A Scandal in Belgravia might just go over their heads. It’s a shame, because the fact that the series chose to take its first major departure from Doyle’s characters with Irene says a lot about what our current media expects of women. Yes, women can be powerful, but that power must be expressed in an inherently sexual way. Yes, women can be smart, but they are also more emotional than men and therefore not equally brilliant. And they usually need some rescuing. It’s pretty ironic that these antiquated messages are actually a revision of a text from the 19th century! I gather from his treatment of Irene Adler, as well as the many other smart, capable, and badass women who appear throughout the Holmes stories, that Doyle had progressive ideas regarding gender. What does it say about our current media, that our narratives are taking a step back?