Sense8 is over. The show which brought us one of the most diverse and represented casts ever to grace the television stage has been cancelled by Netflix, and we’re pretty gutted.
The Wachowskis, known for creating The Matrix series, conceived the show years before its first premiere in 2015, with the intention of bringing a larger understanding of human empathy to television. Undoubtedly, life and the general human condition is at times incomprehensible, but Sense8 strived to highlight the duality of our beings – the inherent greyness of our morality. Despite having to tackle complex, existential issues, the Wachowskis managed to pull it off effortlessly.
The series focuses on eight integral characters, populating all four corners of the globe, who suddenly become reborn as ‘sensates’ in their adulthood’. Through their rebirth, their senses become interconnected and they are able to link with one another in impossible ways. Memories, emotions, weaknesses and strengths become part of a sensate database which ensures that all bases are covered in the inevitable struggle against the villainous Mr. Whispers. I get that it all sounds quite complicated, but the formula is addictively fun and perfectly binge watchable.
Our eight core characters come from extremely different backgrounds, from Sun in Seoul to Nomi in San Francisco and to Capheus in Kenya and back. Their respective cultures are celebrated and explored, without ever becoming too stereotypical or offensive which is a large feat to achieve, as roles like these could easily have become a bit too ludicrous if not treated with the right level of respect. Sense8, however, managed to represent these stormy personalities more honestly.
Representation is not only present for the many cultures, but for the LGBT+ community too. One of the sensates is a young transgender woman named Nomi (played by Jamie Clayton) who is in a same-sex relationship with Freema Agyeman’s Amanita. The relationship is one which has never been seen on mainstream TV and particularly on a stage as big as Netflix’s. Also a part of the sensate cluster is Lito who, in season 1, is a closeted gay man struggling to come to terms with his own sexuality and relationship with Hernando. The character resonates with so many who find themselves in similar positions and the moment in which Lito finally exclaims “I am a gay man!” feels sensitively heartfelt.
The fun of Sense8 really comes from how downright preposterous it is. I mean, the premise of strangers suddenly gaining a shared consciousness is in itself pretty weird but there are moments in the series that have and will shock viewers. Shocked because it’s oftentimes intense, or shocked because of its genuinely more freaky sci-fi moments – the scene in which the sensates share skills to escape from Mr. Whispers calls to mind.
The show has been criticised pretty widely for its pacing, it’s generally accepted that it isn’tt a show which packs all of its drama into every episode, but neither is it a slog to get through. The first half of the first season is slow for a reason, and that’s character development. Instead of fight scenes abound from the get-go, we’re given the opportunity to fully explore the characters we’re spending the next 8 hours or so watching. The amount of exploration into the sensates lives at the beginning makes sure that we actually care about what happens to them at the end. There are countless films and tv shows out there which lack necessary character development and Sense8 was not one of them.
Netflix’s decision to cancel Sense8 after two seasons has been met with some huge social media uproar. Once again, petitions have reared their head, with fans of the show going absolutely mad on Twitter. Sense8 will be sorely missed, but the cultural impact will not be forgotten easily.
“After 23 episodes, 16 cities and 13 countries, the story of the Sense8 cluster is coming to an end,” Cindy Holland, Netflix exec said. “It is everything we and the fans dreamed it would be: bold, emotional, stunning, kickass and outright unforgettable.”
Words by Joseph Coupe