By Guest Contributor Sylvie Kim
When I first skimmed Joanna Robinson’s Pajiba post on the casting of Lucy Liu as Watson in Elementary, CBS’ upcoming remake of Sherlock Holmes, and her call to have Liu play the titular protagonist instead, I thought, “Right on.” Though mainly staffed by white writers, I’ve always considered Pajiba to have a fairly critical sense of race and gender in their film and television reviews for a site that’s … mainly staffed by white writers.
But then I really read Robinson’s piece.
Robinson’s main rationale for Liu taking the lead in the modern reboot is that she’s too sexy to play Watson. While I understand her angle that traditionally Watson is the more amiable, less aesthetically pleasing counterpart to a more fly-yet-caustic and emotionally detached Holmes, perhaps there was a cultural competency oversight or two in her analysis of Liu’s sexiness:
Hell, I’m all for Asian women getting prominent roles. Lord knows Grace Park, Sandra Oh and that fake Hot Topic punk on “Glee” could use some company. But this is the most ill-fitting casting news since they announced Jonny Lee Miller as their Holmes. Listen, you TV executards, we all know sex sells, but Holmes is supposed to be the icy, removed sociopath. Not Watson.
Liu is a sexy, charming performer, but sweet she ain’t. Anyone who watched her try to Manic Pixie Dream grind her way through “Watching The Detectives” will understand. You know what Liu does well? Chilly. She’s like sexy ice water in your veins. Seriously, cast her as Holmes, make the doughy-featured Miller your Watson and I am fully on board.
And a new thought replaced my previous endorsement: Again?