Friday, January 11, 2013

Sidekick Love

Pictured above: Actual flawless human being John Watson.

(I found that .gif on Life in Publishing, where you should spend your Friday afternoon today if you like laughter.)

I am deeply in love with all things Sherlock Holmes. My bookshelf prominently displays that giant compendium of all the stories, which could probably kill a man if I threw it fast enough. I also not only have Holmes-inspired blends of tea (mmm, earl grey with hazlenut and caramel), I also have Holmes-inspired perfume oils. I wouldn't call myself an all-knowing superfan by any means, but we are approaching serious geekery levels over here. Arthur Conan Doyle is my hero, even though he totally forever bitter that his Serious Fiction didn't get as much attention.

But anyway. Like most fans, I have been slowly working my way through all those adaptations, pastiches, homages, and Doyle estate-approved fanfics that are out in the world today. And I'm not actually very picky! As long as its own merits are strong, I don't care if it's particularly faithful to the original stories. The basic idea if the brilliantly observant social maladjust genius is so prevalent, especially on TV today, that you can go at it many ways.

The way Holmes and his multitudes of TV clones are written and played is a dealbreaker, especially since it's easy for writers to veer overenthusiastically in one direction or another. But lately, I find that even if the central character is brilliantly done, I can't get behind an adaptation without a great Watson.

John Watson might be one of my favorite characters ever: a good, honest, ordinary person who somehow catches the attention of this larger than life personality, and as the stories go on, the narrative shows us exactly why he is worthy of Holmes' (and our) notice. Not to mention he's a total badass, as well as the POV character of the entire series. There's so much you can do with that character type.

And plenty of adaptations have completely effed that part up. Adaptations and Holmes-inspired fiction lately has generally been a lot better about that, but others write the sidekick character as a complete non-entity, there to emphasize the brilliance of the protagonist.

No matter what the genre is, the development of the best friends and sidekicks is vital to how much I enjoy a piece of fiction. If he or she exists purely for the protagonist to bounce off of and then ignore when the love interest comes along, it kind of makes the protagonist seem like a bit of a sociopath. Who you choose to associate with says a great deal about you as a person, so what does it say about the protagonist if he or she spends so much time with a blank slate? When you leave a best friend underdeveloped, you leave the protagonist underdeveloped, and you miss out on having a potentially great character and a really interesting relationship.

So in conclusion, remember to love your sidekicks. They will love you back!

(This post is brought to you by my WIP, in which I took a Watson character type and made her the protagonist of the whole damn story. I'm telling you: serious levels of geekery going on here.)


  1. I love the new BBC version of Sherlock, and even though hubs likes the American version, I'm a not a fan of a story that portrays Watson as a female. Lucy doesn't do it for me.

    Martin Freeman on the other hand is a great Watson. I am more of a purist than you, I guess. You're right about sidekicks, after all, they cover your MC's back and provide an opportunity for dialogue.

    1. Haha, I am probably the opposite of a purist - I really enjoy Lucy in the part, and I'm still waiting for the version in which Holmes and Watson are both women. But I can be a purist about other fandoms, so I understand completely ;)

  2. I love sidekicks - often I find I love them much more than the main characters. My favourite 'sidekick' right now is Kenzi from Lost Girl. She's awesome and I wish she had even more screentime than she already does.

    1. Awww, I loveloveLOVE Kenzi! And she's an excellent example, too, because she has her own stuff going on, she has an interesting role in the group, and she gets to save the day on more than one occasion. And she and Bo make the most adorable best friends. (More female best friends who don't end up in love triangles, please!)

  3. Couldn't agree more - it's great to find another Kenzi fan! I love her relationships with the other characters on the show. Her friendship with Bo, her big brother/little sister thing with Dyson and, of course, the developing romance with Hale (so sweet!). She's such a fun character and it's great that she and Bo are proper friends and aren't in competition with each other.


  4. Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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