As the world continues in its seemingly endless state of lockdown, streaming services and Blu-rays have become sanity preservers, providing entertainment to keep the homebound busy. While our isolation provides the perfect opportunity to watch marathons like Game of Thrones The Western world, there is one show that is aptly designed to remind us of our connections to the rest of the world: Netflix’s latest, lamented and historically ambitious sci-fi series, sense8. If you have never seen it, now is the ideal time to binge.
The series centers on a group of eight disparate individuals, played by a multinational cast: Icelandic DJ Riley; the Kenyan matutu driver, Capheus; Korean kickboxer Sun; Indian chemist, Kala; the Mexican actor, Lito; German thief, Wolfgang; and the Americans, Will, a police officer, and Nomi, a white hat hacker, who awaken to a psychic link between them. This allows them to enter the lives of others and share skills or knowledge from afar.
It is the brainchild of the Wachowskis, creators of the influential and ahead of its time, Matrix, and J. Michael Straczynski, creator and writer (almost single-handedly) of the equally notable space opera series, Babylon 5. Without your participation, sense8 It could have easily become a typical genre show, with case-of-the-week dramas and a barely evolving status quo. Instead, it is an ode to humanity itself.
The opening credits
This is immediately apparent in the opening credits sequence, which eschews any focus on the central cast, excluding their names, setting the scale of their ambitions early on, and signaling their foreknowledge. Instead of focusing the lens on individuals, the filmmakers assemble images taken from the show’s filming entirely on location and invite us into a global travelogue: snippets of cultures, cities, landmarks, and people from around the world; a clip-show of lives lived, our global connectivity and the thriving hearts of communities.
The credits alone are a lesson that whether you live in London or Nairobi, Seoul or Mumbai, people are, by and large, driven by the same needs and desires. There is a similarity that should connect us. Before this international crisis, the growing division threatened the peace and intolerance seemed to be growing. Who knows what will happen once the crisis has passed, but many people are taking the opportunity to reassess and really look at what has been happening in the world. “Kindness is sexy,” reads a homemade cardboard sign glimpsed towards the end of the opening titles.
Watching the show in today’s global climate, the credits alone are a glorious refresher on what bustling cities look and feel like (how easily we forget in our socially distant ‘new normal’), and the beauty of how it is. really live together with each other. And then there is also the seductive and often overlooked interweaving of people with nature that underscores the importance of our relationship with the planet itself, reminding us of our place on it and our responsibility for it.
Writing and Themes
The globetrotting cinematography is a treat for our travel-hungry eyes and powerfully presents a concise and resonant way to reconnect with the world we miss, encouraging us with new enthusiasm to look at people and places with new eyes. But it’s the writing and the themes of sense8 that make the series essential to watch during confinement.
The evolution of the characters, known as ‘sensibles’ for their abilities and their telepathic link, referred to as a ‘group’, as they awaken to their powers, encountering strangers from a distant world in their thoughts, or telepathically teleporting themselves to unknown places . , reflects the fears and insecurities that many people may experience in real life when they meet people from different cultures. But as the bond between the group develops, each sense realizes that their humanity is a shared constant that helps them feel almost one. They begin to help each other.
Theirs is a symbiotic relationship, but it is also a metaphor for the way that us they should further behave. The common experience of being human should be enough to foster empathy in most of us and compel us to act altruistically. As these slow and uncertain times force us to stop and think of others, as the world shines a spotlight on those who help (key workers, health professionals, volunteers) and those who desperately need it (the vulnerable, the dying, families losing loved ones on a daily basis), behavior and priorities are undergoing a change. sense8 knows the importance of love and compassion, and now the rest of us are starting to wake up.
Straczynski explored the power of connection and understanding in his comic series, rising stars, but these are put front and center in sense8. Whether gay or straight, trans or cisgender, whatever your ethnicity, whatever your class, the senses realize that they are one and the same, that connection and empathy are integral to the human experience. Regardless of our backgrounds, we all have the same emotions and the same human needs: we hunger for love, understanding, security, compassion, sex and sense8 it unswervingly acknowledges these similarities and asks us to do the same.
As our isolation continues in these unprecedented times and many of us begin to reassess, sense8 reaffirms the importance of such lessons. See sense8 in the current climate is to multiply your messages tenfold. As we recognize that we are lucky to be able to broadcast television at this time, we also remember that it is a privilege that many people around the world will not have. sense8 It proves to be a strangely powerful reminder of the injustice of inequality, at a point in history where everyone is experiencing the same crisis but won’t necessarily be able to get through it with the same comfort.
sense8the lost potential
Beyond its window onto the prosperous world from which we are all currently cut off, and its potent reminder that we have more in common than divides us, sense8 It’s still worthy of a lockdown watch, or rewatch, because it’s still one of the best shows Netflix has ever commissioned. It’s densely plotted, and any one of the eight main characters has enough to host their own show.
Sun’s personal story is a revenge thriller that could stand shoulder to shoulder with the cutting edge of Korean cinema, appropriately so, given that actor Bae Doona had previously appeared in Park Chan-wook. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance – while Lito’s arc of being a closet action star is the main fuel for the telenovela. Wolfgang’s story would fit in with the grittier European crime films, while Will’s need to crack an unsolved murder is a staple of crime films. Yet here we have all those arcs and more, interwoven with a high-concept sci-fi thread that delves into the origins and evolution of the human race.
Unfortunately, sense8 it never found the audience it deserved when it originally appeared on Netflix. While the first season garnered guaranteed praise upon its June 2015 premiere, there were long gaps between seasons: It took until Christmas 2016 for the feature-length special to be released. happy fucking new year, another five months for Season 2 proper, coupled with Netflix’s model of releasing entire seasons in one sitting, saw viewers dwindle to levels that didn’t justify the cost of production.. While those gaps were necessary due to the show’s intense location filming and arduous editing, Netflix canceled the series after its second season, though passionate fans rallied to secure another special movie as the finale, titled Love conquers all – appropriately, “love conquers all.”
Ironically, the very factors that make sense8 a show so perfect for the lockdown era would also currently make it impossible to produce, even if Netflix hadn’t canceled it. When even smaller-scale series like the CW’s Arrowverse quintet have stalled production due to the COVID-19 crisis, a show based on its global shoots, international casts, and use of real-world locations instead of sets closed would not have a chance to be filmed right now.
sense8 remains Netflix’s cruelest cancellation, robbing the world of an ongoing and much-needed expression of universal humanity. But at least we have the entire show to review at a time when it couldn’t be more relevant or powerful. When we emerge from our shared isolation, we would all do well to assume Sense8 lessons in empathy and the importance of connection as we face what’s next, together.
you can stream sense8 and Netflix.