There is a trend in media for strong women who are outwardly so. They are witty, snarky, toned, and know how to hold a gun. The role model being pushed is that of the ultimate woman. It’s progress – I wouldn’t trade River Song for a hundred people from Hollywood’s past – but there’s a silent repercussion, a fortification of the idea that women have to be twice as accomplished to be considered half as good, to deserve this screen time at all. They are always extraordinary, always the one in a million. Importantly, there’s no variety – only one mould to fit ourselves into. A great mould, yes, but not if you don’t fit into it.
Molly Hooper is different. Molly Hooper is kind, thoughtful, always smiling, and intelligent in a way that you don’t really notice until you remember she’s a pathologist. She asks after people and cares about the answers, remembers little details because everything someone says is important. She probably still remembers how Sherlock likes his coffee. Her blog is pink, covered in kittens, and uses Comic Sans. She blunders her way through speaking, has serious foot-in-mouth syndrome, and can’t put on a pair of plastic gloves without making faces. She is one of the strongest women I have ever seen.
She puts up with what can only be described as “total bullshit.” You might say that makes her a bit of a doormat, but for people like Molly (like me), who like kindness and hate conflict, it takes serious guts to call someone on their behaviour and say you’re hurting me. It takes guts to carry that kind of unrequited love and still first and foremost be a friend, to ask what do you need? Molly Hooper makes Sherlock Holmes, a man who can barely articulate anything beyond the scientific, try to be kinder. In the end, Molly isn’t the woman who counts [like Irene Adler], but the friend.