sense8: a damaged masterpiece

Note: This post is rated G, but the show I talk about is rated R. Definitely NSFW!

I want to talk about Sense8, which got cancelled after two seasons, way before its plot lines were resolved. The Netflix original series is about eight people who come to learn they are all linked through psychic powers. They can borrow each other’s skills and memories. Not only does Sense8 have a neat premise, but the execution is superb. The Wachowskis, who direct and write the show, were able to shoot in *eight different cities* and seamlessly integrate the different story lines. They also recruited an amazing cast of actors, many international stars to fill out the series.

Not only is Sense8 a masterpiece of photography and production, the Wachowski’s reach new levels of maturity in their writing. By allowing the eight characters to see through each other’s eyes, they can explore identity and emotions in novel ways. For example, while I have seen many excellent films and television shows with LBGT themes, the show is the first, for this straight male, to effectively communicate the difficulties of LGBT people from a very interior perspective. In other words, when I watch a show with strong LGBT characters, I can appreciate the struggles and challenges they face. However, for me, Sense8 is the first show that provides straight viewers with rich metaphors and an emotional language for thinking about the first person experiences of people who have a non-heterosexual identity. That’s a real testament to the skill of the writers.

Another deep issue is that Sense8 is truly global. It has great American characters, and America is depicted in a great way, but it is not *centered* on America. We can see beautiful people living amazing, but connected, lives all over, from Kenya to Seoul. In another testament to the writers’ skill, the show rarely, if ever, veers into an uncritical multiculturalism. Rather, Sense8 excels when it grounds a story in multiple, simultaneous locations, suggesting that the story plays out in specific ways for each character, but still nods to the fact that people form a true global community, even if it is conflicted and tense.

Sadly Sense8 got cancelled after two seasons, so this uncanny story of eight linked empaths might never get the proper treatment it deserves. The good news is the Netflix allowed the team to do a wrap up movie and, if it proves popular enough, maybe a final  third season. But still, I don’t think it will be enough, given the major issues that were raised in the first two seasons and the format where each of the eight major characters gets a lot of attention. Still, I am glad we have this work and if you are a fan of ambitious art and television, I suggest you check it out.

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Written by fabiorojas

November 20, 2017 at 5:01 am

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