Decoder Ring explores how a conspiracy theory about a gay Sherlock Holmes brought a fandom into chaos.

Who Gets to Decide if Sherlock Holmes Is Gay?

Who Gets to Decide if Sherlock Holmes Is Gay?

Cracking cultural mysteries.
June 4 2018 5:49 AM

Decoder Ring: The Johnlock Conspiracy

The BBC insisted that John Watson and Sherlock Holmes aren’t gay lovers. Fans disagreed.


Benjamin Frisch

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Decoder Ring is a podcast about cracking cultural mysteries. Every month host Willa Paskin, Slate’s TV critic, takes on a cultural question, object, idea, or habit and speaks with experts, historians, and obsessives to try to figure out where it comes from, what it means, and why it matters.

Today: Who gets to decide if Sherlock Holmes is gay? For more than a century, fans of Sherlock Holmes have been analyzing, debating, and creating new texts using Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters. Decoder Ring explores the Johnlock conspiracy, a fan theory about the BBC TV show Sherlock, which posits the inevitability of a gay romance between Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. With interviews from historians, journalists, and fans at the heart of this controversial idea, this episode explores the theory, how it played out in the real world, and whether this kind of fandom is a meaningful way of interacting with fiction.

Links and further reading on some of the things we discussed on the show:

Decoder Ring is produced and edited by Benjamin Frisch.

Willa Paskin is Slate’s television critic.