Bear with me now, as I am not a native speaker and my explanation might lack eloquence, especially when it gets lengthy.
Canonical John Watson was a medical man and as such had some analytical skills, but he hardly got to use them in canon - only several times and often wrong, especially as far as his analytical skills are concerned. (His knowledge of medicine was also used only sparsely, but nobody says John will not use it in the future, as they are still early in the story). Therefore I see nothing wrong with John getting similar (not same) treatment, although I honestly do not think there is a lack of give/take balance. He assists Sherlock in other ways and he can impress him at times, for example at Baskerville Base. I understand one may find more appealing the more equal dynamics between Elementary Holmes and Joan, but that’s a different interpretation of the canon. ACD’s stories always had unequality between Holmes and Watson, it was a part of the whole narrative - and at the same time it did not demean their friendship, which is what BBC Sherlock displays well IMO.
Mrs. Hudson and Sherlock share a backstory which was not yet explored fully, but from the events of ASiB it’s quite obvious how dear she is to him and how relaxed he feels in her presence. Yes, she accepts a lot of his antics (that’s the thing about friendship - you can teach someone to be better and still accept the person’s bad side), but does not hesitate to tell him off when necessary. He is changing only very slowly, but his behaviour towards her varies with the situation they are in. He can be a prick under some circumstances, but he is also willing to humour her, he is tender to her when she’s distressed and ultimately - he is willing to risk his life for her. Sherlock will probably never be terribly polite to Mrs. Hudson under all circumstances (for example when he is annoyed, bored, etc.), but why do you think the show presents is as an excuse? The viewer can see it is not right. Yet it sill happens. IMO that’s what life is all about.
You ask why should an “intelligent…. young woman be so infatuated with a belligerent, rude” etc. man?” Maybe because it does happen all the time IRL? We all make bad choices - and Sherlock is Molly’s bad choice. He is using her, sure, but as the creators stressed so many times, he is not a full developed character yet. He only gradually comes to realize how he should or should not treat her - and how important he is to her. That is a part of a process we are likely to see developing in the next episodes. Sherlock is on his way to appreciate her for her friendship and Molly will most probably grow out of her obssession with him, which is only good for her.
As for Lestrade - I only have to repeat myself. Yes, indeed, relationships do not just happen, they form. Even Lestrade has some sort of past with Sherlock (there is also this hint about Sherlock’s possible drug addiction) and it is coming up only slowly and subtly. I personally appreciate the viewers are not spoon-fed everything.
Also, there is nothing wrong with these characters being white. Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson were white (and probably heterosexual - though I doubt ACD gave it a single thought) in the canon and Molly is white because Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat wanted to give this role (originally very little) to Louise. Hardly a crime.
Your last paragraph - no, I cannot agree. The creators never mean to say Sherlock is better than anyone - they often show him flawed in many ways. There is no justification in this, you can see him criticized and (understandably) unloved by many, and he is often being told off by his friends. Indeed, he is shown solving everything through his special skills, but that is what Sherlock Holmes is about! He is supposed to have special skills, he is supposed to be unlike others - and better, at least in this one aspect.
Besides, Sally is never painted as stupid or horrible (neither Anderson - he is doubtlessly smart, he just overlooks things - as all people except Sherlock, but that’s the point of the story). As I have said elsewhere, I suggest wellingtongoose’s metas on Sally, which comment on her character very well.
Also, why do you want everybody to have healthy, happy, equal relationships? That’s unrealistic - and not what the show is about. It shows flawed people doing mistakes, even Sherlock. For a time he gets out with being rude to everyone, yes, but in the end he is very much punished for his treatment of people. That’s what TRF is also about - it is his downfall and we can see how it partly happened because of his previous attitude. And it is surely going to be a part of his future development.
I was not commenting on the shows as respective adaptations to Conan Doyle’s canon, but rather as narratives in themselves who flesh out real characters, yes, based on certain materials, but should still stand on their own. John being able to occasionally surprise Sherlock does not indicate a “balance” in their relationship. Further, I never stated that Elementary’s Watson and Holmes did have an even 50/50 give and take (hint: they don’t, but they progress toward it, and Joan expresses continual dissatisfaction over this and refuses to let Sherlock act like a child, while in return Sherlock accurately calls out her sometimes inappropriate decisions or actions).
Also, speculation as to what the show might do with John rather than what the show has done with John is irrelevant to this criticism of the show as it is. The show’s potential and the show’s credentials are definitely not the same, and potential should not be used in a critique of the show, unless it is to point out that the show is not living up to it. John’s assistance to Sherlock is not one of a colleague, but rather an often-exasperated admirer. Joan in Elementary is actually employed to personally help Sherlock with coping with sobriety etc., and she quit her practice because of medical error on her part and yet she is given much more credit as a an intelligent, autonomous person who is actually learning analytical skills from Sherlock.
Moreso, ACD disliked his character Sherlock and the series itself; he believed Sherlock to be an arrogant jerk and wrote him with a specific person in mind whose personality he detested. Though Sherlock in the books only really is rude and affronting to the rich and corrupt (making him much more sympathetic than BBC Sherlock), any disparity within the Holmes/Watson relationship was probably deliberate on his part to convey his distaste for the pomposity of his former colleague who had inspired the character. And make no mistake, Elementary’s Holmes is rude, arrogant, and pushes people away, but he’s also complex beyond just being bored or misunderstood and feels genuine compassion for and empathy with people.
Some viewers can see that it’s not right. The narrative does not call out Sherlock’s behavior toward Miss Watson through any repercussions. As for the rest of it, those are feeling one gets by filling in the blanks the show leaves. While I don’t have anything against getting the utmost enjoyment from a show you can (I was in the Glee fandom; I KNOW what it’s like to fill the void through fanfiction, headcanons, and metas), if the show does not actually show it or prove it, the message is not strongly conveyed.
As for Molly, yes I realize that it does happen in real life, but my point is that BBC Sherlock does not point out that Molly’s behavior is sad, not because Sherlock rejects her advances or even because he is rude to her, but because she holds an unrealistic idea of who Sherlock is in her head, and it’s not healthy. And though her initial infatuation is not entirely unique, a continued infatuation with someone so rude and uncaring toward her is a bit unrealistic, especially when Molly gets so little development to explain any emotional context for latching onto such a man. It’s implied he reminds her of her father, but without fleshing out Molly’s character, it’s speculation.
Again, the future development of Sherlock is not what is being discussed right now, and he has been the principal character of the series which collectively adds up to around nine hours of screen time (18 episodes of development focused solely on him to give context). Sherlock’s underdevelopment can only be attributed to the shows continual romanticism of his rudeness/intelligence combination and its prioritization of dynamic, clever, plots over characterization (as pointed out in an earlier reblog).
As a MODERN adaptation of the series. Note: Conan Doyle wrote these things back in late 1800s to early 1900s, and he was probably racist. Excluding PoC is racist. There is no reason that in London, a hugely diverse city, the main cast is derived of white people. Shows should make a conscious effort to include people who are not cisgender, heterosexual, and white because the world is surrounded by those factors. What is the point of creating a modern adaptation if you can’t fix some of the source material’s archaic flaws i.e. lack of PoC and LGBT+ representation?
I don’t mean to claim that the show doesn’t present Sherlock as flawed, but it’s obvious through the way people treat Sherlock, paralleled with John’s amazement and acceptance (and tolerance of Sherlock’s rudeness) that they are portrayed as wrong and misunderstanding of him. When people do criticize him, he is still the hero in the story, his actions aren’t presented as indelibly cruel, and the viewer is not urged to reject Sherlock’s overall demeanor and arrogance from the narrative’s standpoint. The most instrumental piece of evidence is John Watson’s implementation into the plot as the voice of reason who believes in Sherlock Holmes.
I have never had a problem with Sherlock’s powers of analysis or deduction (in either modern adaptation). I do take issue with how Sherlock handles his skills in the BBC show and with how the narrative treats him. His genius is often conveyed to be his saving grace because of some elemental truth in his deductions (though they can be wrong and often are), while the show loses its own message that Sherlock’s saving grace is not his genius, but the humanity and compassion that he holds despite his set of special skills. The show acting like Sherlock’s genius somehow elevates him over the other characters’ moral accountability is the issue.
Sally is painted as rude with poor judgement. Regardless of whether you love her character when you read between the lines, the narrative still pits her at odds with Sherlock continuously with little insight into her side or attempts to make him sympathetic. She’s shown as seeing a married man, and the show heavily implies she dislikes Sherlock because he can guess her bad secrets, and that she’s in the wrong for detesting being exposed.
Metas are great, and many of her few lines can be pieced together to show more depth into Sally’s character, but the show never gives the viewer the benefit of providing significant and sympathetic shows of her viewpoint. Also, Sherlock pointedly said to Anderson that he was lowering the I.Q. of the people in proximity, obviously played for laughs. It may be evident through his profession that he is intelligent, but that is not expressed in the show as important or of any worth.
Elementary does not have everyone happy and healthy; it simply just portrays relationships better. Sherlock is a recovering addict with trust issues who closes off and shuts down conversations by waving his intellect around often and commits various microaggressions of misogyny. The difference between Elementary and BBC Sherlock is the dynamics of the relationships are more fairly portrayed, and the viewer is more apt to hold Sherlock accountable for what he does as well as see real development in characters. The Reichenbach Fall does portray Sherlock as being overly rude to some people, but it insists that the world is being worse to Sherlock than he is to the world. It’s not really poetic justice but rather more than he deserves in an attempt to push a sympathetic frame on Sherlock’s character.
I’m sure that BBC Sherlock will continue to portray Sherlock as insufferably insensitive to others and sure of his own intellect and judgment in almost all situations, but I would not presume that he will learn much from it in the preceding episodes to come; whether or not this comes to be, as the series stands, it unfairly presents Sherlock as misunderstood man whom the world hates for revealing truth, rather than a rude and uncompassionate man who many people do just tolerate because of his skills.