BBC’s "Sherlock" and Europeanness: A Case Study on the Circulation of a European TV Crime Series in Italy
Keywords:Sherlock, TV Series, Cultural Encounters, Europeanness, Britishness
This paper considers BBC’s Sherlock (2010-2017) to intervene in debates on European identity and the transnational circulation of popular culture. The series, one of the most recent and successful television adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, is set in contemporary rather than Victorian London. It represents an example of both ‘quality’ international television and ‘prestige’ British popular culture. As noted by other writers, among the characteristics that enabled the commercial success of the series is its capacity to merge nostalgic elements deriving from the widespread imagery of the ‘original’ Sherlock Holmes with new and innovative textual components (e.g. use of digital technology, social media). The paper considers how Sherlock negotiates between tradition and innovation by bringing together past and present. It argues that such negotiations could perhaps be considered a mark of Europeanness, understood as a process of negotiating national identities. The paper then looks at the reception and circulation of Sherlock in Italy through the lens of cultural encounter theory. The series can be considered a success in terms of ratings and audience share. To some extent Sherlock has triggered both reflections on British television and self-reflections on Italian culture. Nevertheless, from the data we have collected, we observe that such reflections, however significant, remain limited.
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