Pride month started with a blow to the LGBT+ community with the cancellation of one of the most pro-LGBT+ shows around—Netflix’s ‘Sense8’. However, by the end of pride month, fans of the show had successfully won a 2-hour finale, now planned for release in 2018, through twitter campaigning and online petitions.
The show follows the lives of eight people who had never met each other. By living in various parts of the world and leading different lives, they were never have meant to have met. However, after being “birthed” by a woman called Angelica, these eight people learn that they are part of a different species of human beings, sensates, who share a telepathic connection with each other. They share emotions, skills, language and knowledge enabling them to work together to deal with individual problems and to fight a common enemy, the Biological Preservation Organisation (BPO) who are trying to hunt them down. Together, they become a ‘cluster’ and form a family-like bond.
The 8 main characters are:
- Will (a cop from Chicago, USA)
- Nomi (a trans-woman and hacker from San Francisco, USA)
- Sun (a businesswoman and skilled kickboxer from Seoul, Korea)
- Wolfgang (a locksmith and safe-cracker from Berlin, Germany)
- Riley (an Icelandic-born DJ living in London, England)
- Kala (a pharmacist from Mumbai, India)
- Capheus (a matatu driver from Nairobi, Kenya)
- Lito (a closeted actor from Mexico City, Mexico)
While sci-fi shows are increasingly popular, Sense8 is atypical of its genre and reaches new heights and crosses all boundaries. It explores many topics, like sexuality, politics, religion, family, love, identity, drug and gang culture. It has, in particular, been praised for its diverse representation of different races, cultures, sexualities and gender identities. Many upcoming shows have also actively tried to portray more representation. However, with Sense8, it is not something that is just vacantly present, but also a core component of the story. This inclusion is also active behind the screens as the Wachowski sisters, creators of the show, are both transwomen themselves. Meanwhile, Nomi, is played by transgender actress, Jamie Crayton, rather than a cis actress; as is the case in other shows. So when Crayton’s character, Nomi, says “For a long time, I was afraid to be who I am”, you can feel the sincerity of those words and the connection Crayton must feel with her character.
The range of diversity is key in the show’s overall message that despite all the differences between the sensates, friendship and love transcends all. The sensates are able to ‘visit’ each other telepathically in their respective countries and cities despite being thousands of miles away. They often find themselves ‘visiting’ each other during emotionally poignant moments in their lives, and it is through the mental sharing of these emotions that their differences turn into empathy and understanding. It is these emotions and their connections that are the driving forces of the story of Sense8.
The show also deals with sex in a mature manner. It does not shy away from showing it explicitly or artistically, nor does it shy away from showing intimate homosexual scenes. This does represent a cultural shift in western media to be increasingly acceptable of homosexual relationships; a reflection of western society itself. At the same time, it continues to be more progressive than most TV shows we watch. But of course, the sensates are from different countries and cultures and thus Sense8 also represents different attitudes towards sex. While Wolfgang is seen having casual sex, having proclaimed himself that “Germans aren’t so uptight about nudity”, Kala is, in contrast, a virgin and nervous about sex. It is portrayed as more than just a physical act as the sensates are able to experience each other’s emotions during sex through their emotional and mental link, resulting in two orgy scenes in the series.
Admittedly the first 2-3 episodes are harder to process and get through. But having been shot in 17 different cities and accompanied with a stunning soundtrack and breath-taking cinematography, the series contains some of the most beautiful scenes I have witnessed in TV show history. The editing is slick and clever, with many of the scenes being two interconnected to one, and the (numerous) action scenes are truly thrilling and entertaining to watch.
I, like many of the show’s fans, was very disappointed at the show’s cancellation. It is highly unlikely that anything more than the promised 2-hour finale will progress, but help keep the show alive by watching it and tweeting to Netflix about it!
I highly recommend this show!
SUBCULTURED Score: 10/10
All Sense8 episodes are available to watch on Netflix.
Text and picture research by AK Gurung; featured image from spoilertv.com.