TV Review – Sense8

Sense8 Season 1 and 2 (2015-2018)
Written by Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski, J. Michael Straczynski, David Mitchell, and Aleksandar Hemon
Directed by Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, James McTeigue, and Dan Glass

Sense8 was one of those shows I missed out on when Netflix when it premiered in 2015. It had two seasons and got canceled due to its expensive budget since they filmed on location. I toyed with the idea of watching it for the longest time. Due to my lack of commitment to some things, I sometimes hesitate to go into things people love or find great comfort in. Word of mouth can be so grand that when you finally get you can feel like a jerk for perhaps not enjoying it as much as others do.

I am not the biggest fan of the Wachowskis, although I do have respect for them. Sense8 is one of those shows that, in the end, are very important on a spectrum of diversity and representation. It gives us something missing from a lot from shows, a sense of a community, and people leaning on each other. Especially when it comes to found family.

It’s a cluster of people who are connected through a mind-link of sorts. The story itself can be convoluted at times. Since the show was canceled and they had to wrap it up in a bow for the final movie, some things just ended up a little bit of a mess story wise.

Since I will not go episode by episode or season by season, I will just put things into neat little piles and help you understand my thoughts, much like how the storylines were tangled together at the end.

The Good:

A group of people who would have never had met come to work together over time. When things go wrong, one person might know how to bail them out. One person left to fight a group of baddies? Sun Bak (Bae Doona) is trained in martial arts and can come in to bring you to safety. Need to know what chemicals are in something? Kala Dandekar (Tina Desai) has that knowledge.

They’re a community. They can communicate, bring strength to one another and fulfill the gaps the others may have. Over time they care for one another.

The Bad:

I honestly want to know why there was a need to have everyone speak English to then be like, “Oh no, they’re speaking Korean.” I understand that this was done not to alienate American English Speaking audiences but to be authentic. I think having everyone speak their native tongue would’ve pushed home just how different everyone else’s lives are.

The Good:

A complicated and interesting plot about how a secret program seeks to eliminate or control different clusters around the world.

The Bad:

A complicated plot about a secret program that seeks to eliminate or control different clusters around the world: they kept flip-flopping about if this program was bad. It started good! Now it’s bad! They can be good! But right now, they’re evil. Since they were stretching it out and were forced to conclude everything into one movie, we never got all the answers.

The Good:

Diverse representation. This blog here does a great analysis of how Sense8 is vital for trans/lgbtq+ characters. We had Nomi Marks (Jamie Clayton), who is trans and in a loving relationship with Amanita Caplan (Freema Agyeman), and their chemistry in this is magnificent. They have sex scenes, adoring longing looks, Amanita threatening arson for Nomi. Lito Rodriguez (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) who is a Mexican action stare who has a closeted relationship with art professor Hernando Fuentes (Alfonso Herrera).

The Bad:

I am not a fan of how by the end, the way Lito saves his career is by moving to make films with Hollywood. There’s this awkward white-savior complex that dangles over this. I understand that Latin America has some work to do when it comes to masculinity and being anti-lgbtq+. Pedro Almodóvar has been making movies for years, is openly gay, and would’ve swept in to take an actor who was exposed like that. Yes, Pedro Almodóvar is from Spain, meaning he is white, but if we’re going to play up a fantasy, don’t just tell me Hollywood will take Lito with open arms just like that.

The Awkward:

Alright, it’s 2021, and the tricky thing about watching Sense8 now is how Will Gorski (Brian J. Smith), a white cop, takes up so much screen time. He’s the guy everyone was supposed to relate to. He’s a good cop.

I can’t believe there are any good cops. Mariska Hargitay could slap me as Olivia Benson, and I would not say thank you. I’d spell ACAB on the wall, gesture to it wildly. I don’t need to sympathize for the police.

Sense8 remarks on socialist art. It has socialist ideas brimming through it. It’s this idea of a community we’re all dying to have. How many times have we wished for someone else to take over? For someone else to understand us fully without ever having to utter a word? It brings family bonds, impossible yet possible love.

Am I saying I am more willing to accept the poly relationship between Kala, Rajan, and Wolfgang being a thing despite how they were setting up Rajan being in some sketchy shit in season two over a white cop being good? Yes. Thousand times, yes. I know that Will technically isn’t a cop in season two, but everyone keeps reminding us he is one.

There’s also this wild thing that Will is on drugs and magically recovers when the drugs aren’t needed anymore. This show was like, ‘no time, Netflix will take ten minutes away from us if we dare explain further.’

Does this mean Sense8 isn’t worth the watch?

No. It’s a lot of characters. It’s a lot like watching a Marvel film where you’re asking who is who and why is this important. The difference is, they aren’t queer-baiting you. We need more shows with representation like this; I wish they had done it a little cleaner. It’s still worth it; it’s just that Will is entirely unrealistic. Everything else I can believe in, even in a bad guy named Whispers.

One thought on “TV Review – Sense8”

  1. Pingback: Summer 2021 Digest

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