Sometimes shows are way ahead of their time, and they suffer for it, whether the audience isn’t ready for it or the company that broadcast it had no idea what to do with it. Thankfully, now we have Netflix, which like an overactive toddler, throws everything at the wall and just sees what sticks. One such project takes a project from the sometimes-beloved sci-fi visionaries The Wachowskis and the more well-received J. Michael Straczynski, wherein the human limits are stretched in fantastic ways.
Let’s take a look at Sense8.
What do a San Franciscan transgender hactivist, Mexican movie star in the closet, a Nairobi van driver, Chicago cop, Korean businesswoman, Indian pharmaceutical researcher, German mobster, and Icelandic DJ have in common? A psycho-physical bond that connects them together. Sense8 essentially asks “What would happen if you linked eight random people from different parts of the world?” and then goes on weird tangents. Nomi, Lito, Capheus, Will, Sun, Kala, Wolfgang, and Riley have the two loaves of their brain merge together to the point where they can visit each other and share skill sets, which comes in handy when they’re fighting off an evil organization out to kill them all.
Now it would be so easy just to say that the writers basically just took several pages from the Heroes playbook…and I will say it. That’s the kind of critic I am. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing because they grabbed all the good pages. A cast full of diverse figures from around the world with a diverse skill set, awesome locations, great chemistry between actors, and bespectacled villains with shady organizations pulling the strings all find their way into the show. However, Sense8 also manages to throw in good humor, strong and diverse female characters, stable and healthy romances, truly touching moments, and way better cinematography.
The humor in this show is unmatched because of the weird situation that the characters find themselves in. For instance, Lito becomes connected with Sun while she’s on her period, answering the long wondered question of “What would it be like if men had their period?” and creates of the most memorable and hilarious scenes of the show. These moments are very necessary to cut through the very thick, and sometimes heavy handed, drama. There are constant threats of lobotomy, warring gangs, being forced out of the closet, business intrigue, and drug deals gone wrong. You know, all the genres wrapped up into one show.
As for sex and romance, there’s plenty of it. And yes, this show is famous for having a 4-way…between three men and a woman so it might be the four way you’re imagining. There’s also, far and away, the two most positive representations of gay sex (both between two men and two women) I have ever encountered on TV. There are two in-cluster pairings, though, and only one who I think is inherently interesting (Kala and Wolfgang, clash of worlds, all of that jazz) and the other is bland white bread.
All the characters are fleshed out incredibly well, to the point wherein you feel like they could be real. Everyone who watches the show typically has their favorite characters, though it’s hard to say that any one of the characters is better than any other objectively. They have different backstories, which at times makes it feel like the show is trying to cram in eight different genres all at once, but each are handled with care and preciseness. The dialogue is fresh but not the witty, over-fused group banter most people have come to know as screen dialogue, and certainly not carbon-copied for each actor, which is especially surprising.
The cinematography is spot on for this show, and you know it’s because the Wachowskis love beautiful backdrops and settings. Almost all the scenes are shot in the geographically correct locations, meaning that the cast and crew have to go on one big road trip across the world. The camerawork is particularly skillful and shows that even TV shows can have beautiful shots and have high quality shots and story.
All in all, Sense8 is the kind of show I have wanted all my life and yet never knew how to ask for it. It has fantastic characters, great visuals, strong writing, and manages to be incredibly diverse and include without coming as like an afternoon special. It may not be great sci-fi as we know it, but it is certainly great human drama.
– Great humor.
– Fantastic writing.
– Excellent visuals.
– Some parts of plot lines are unconnected and boring.