Gay love theory as fans relish Sherlock in China
It was not just British fans who had been waiting anxiously to find out just how Sherlock Holmes dodged death in the final instalment of the massively popular BBC drama Sherlock.
"I tore myself away from bed early this morning just to watch 90 minutes of my Curly Fu and Peanut," said one online comment. "The gay-citement has finally returned. PS: Thank you, Prime Minister Cameron, for visiting China."
"Curly Fu" and "Peanut" are the names given by Chinese fans to Sherlock and his sidekick, Dr Watson, because they resemble the Chinese pronunciation of their names. The "gay-citement" tag? Well, that is used to describe the excitement of seeing what Chinese fans like to think of as the love between the two characters.
When UK Prime Minister David Cameron visited China in December and opened an account on weibo, China's version of Twitter, the top request for him was to speed up the release of the new series of Sherlock. That day finally arrived.
The show was launched on Youku, a Chinese video-hosting website similar to YouTube, just two hours after its premiere in Britain. It got almost 3m hits overnight, and weibo has been lit up by fans discussing the new episode.
There is a particular affection for Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock, with even an online forum dedicated to Curly Fu.
"The human race cannot stop the invasion of Curly Fu," posted one commentator.
"Curly Fu is the sexiest when he plays violin," said another. "Curly Fu is my only male god. He represents beauty and wisdom, but better with his clothes off."
But the most fervent fans are those intent on finding a gay subtext to the relationship between Holmes and Watson. There are numerous Chinese sites that host Sherlock fan fiction, depicting the detectives as a couple. And among this group of fans, many identify themselves as funu or "rotten women" - young women who like gay stories.
"I have to say, this show is catering to our rotten girls' taste more and more," said one fan.
"Sherlock tortures Watson a thousand times, and Watson loves him like his first love," wrote another. "I've waited two years, and it didn't disappoint me."