Sense8, beyond being a truly interesting premise, tackles a wide number of issues. It touches on homophobia, transphobia, mental illness, abusive relationships, drug use, poverty, crime, violence, government corruption, morality, love, I mean it casts a wide net but not in a way that removes anything from the story elements (apart from a few times in the 2nd season). So for once on this blog I’m going to have a positive rant. The focus being on Sense8 and why I love it. For the most part, I’m going to focus on the first season as I’ve just re-watched it whereas I haven’t seen the 2nd season since it was released. There are likely to be spoilers here and there but I don’t focus too much on the plot as a whole.
The Basic Premise
Sense8 is sort of hard to explain but I’ll try my best to cover the overall idea. The show follows 8 main characters who all share one consciousness hub (so to speak). They can learn from each other’s experiences, connect to memories, experience what another member of their “cluster” (the word used to describe each group of 8) is feeling and much more. The first season essentially covers the group getting used to this new part of their lives. It also introduces us to the villain of the show: Whispers.
The 2nd season isn’t as great as the first (in my opinion) but tensions are certainly higher and with much more at stake. The 2nd season of Sense8 is more of a battle against Whispers. One important aspect of the show is that while there is this threat casting a show over the group’s lives, they all have individual battles to face as well.
Sense8 was cancelled after the 2nd season…but fans rallied together (myself included) and signed a petition to the Netflix to continue making the show. Unable to make an entire season, Netflix will be releasing a finale episode which will be two hours long. Essentially fans are getting a Sense8 movie that doesn’t have to appeal to a wider audience. Personally, I think this adds merit to the benefits of Netflix (I’ll be posting an article soon about my predictions for the future of the company). I’ve lost so many shows to cancellation…like so many. Most of which ended on cliffhangers, leaving questions unanswered and essentially opening up a door in my mind that will never be closed. So while I would have preferred a full season, I’m just happy that the show will be wrapped up.
One thing that makes a great TV shows is the characters. Whether you watch Game of Thrones, Lost, Rick and Morty, Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Criminal Minds or Still Game, what makes these shows great is the characters. If the characters in a show suck or aren’t consistent (for example, The Path) then no matter how good the premise of a TV show is, you’ll never get hooked on it.
Luckily, Sense8 has a character for everyone. Whether you like Riley (Tuppence Middleton) the Icelandic DJ, Capheus (Aml Ameen/Toby Onwumere) the legendary Van Damme bus driver of Nairobi or Sun (Donna Bae) the bad-ass martial artist from Seoul, there is someone who we can all relate to in some form or another. Some characters are funny, some are romantic, some are brave, some are smart…the whole purpose of Sense8 is that while all these characters may be one, they are still unique and individual in their own ways.
Sense8 has characters (or more importantly, actors) who are able to portray all the necessary emotions. No matter how tense the situation is some moments are funny not through forced comedy but actually just by characters being themselves. Like Sun who responds to the news that there are 4 guards on that floor with “is that all?” It’s hilarious because she’s totally right. 4 guards to her is nothing.
Unique and Interesting Storyline
I think that Sense8 really does add something to the world of television and for the life of me, I have no idea why it isn’t more popular. As soon as I heard the plot for it, I was hooked. I think I binge-watched the entire season in one day actually. You get all the drama and thrill you would from any other show but with such a compelling idea, I think it’s great.
One thing they do really well is explain some of the science but never all of it. Many characters even describe what they are doing or feeling in such a vague sense as to leave something to the imagination. So while they touch on theories as to what sense8’s actually are, they don’t go too far down the rabbit hole which I think is important. I mean we don’t want another mitoclorian incident, do we? Or even worse: Lost, where there are too many loose ends to keep track of. I think for the most part they make you feel like you are indeed just watching a phenomenon that is completely legit.
Sense8 very much plays into the social commentary domain and sometimes it’s a bit on the nose. I think this might be why the audience doesn’t grow. I happen to think it works really well because you feel a certain realism inside this fictional world. For example, you can believe that in parts of the world, being gay could end your career. You can believe that cops are alienated for helping gangbangers or that Gods and religion are standing in the way of a marriage. I wouldn’t question someone telling me that gangs are a problem in Africa or that being a woman in the business world can start you off disadvantaged. It is this level of realism that allows the fiction side to seem possible.
I think they tried to top Game of Thrones for sex scenes which by the 2nd season had become a bit stale. Sense8 tries a little too hard to shove certain views down your throat (no pun intended). I personally don’t care, as long as its consensual, I don’t care who fucks who. It’s a free world and people should do whatever makes them happy. That doesn’t mean I want to watch a gay sex scene every episode.
Drugs also play a major role in the show. Riley seems to be the main consumer: weed, ecstasy and DMT are some of the substances she takes on-screen. I have to admit that I love a show’s willingness to show drugs in a positive light. I mean I wish the DMT scene hadn’t ended in a bunch of murders…but it did work very well. I think one base idea the show tries to push is acceptance: accept people regardless of their sexuality, regardless of their gender and regardless of what drugs they use.
It did appear that there was some controversy on set. Aml Ameen who plays Capheus in season 1 was traded out for Toby Onwumere in the 2nd season. I’m personally a big fan of Aml Ameen’s acting. I remember watching him in the film Kidulthood when I was younger but he’s great in Maze Runner as well. It seems that he didn’t agree with certain scenes: whether it was gay scenes, trans scenes or just the group sex scenes in general is anyone’s guess. Many entertainment news sites were eager to label it but as the full picture is being kept under wraps (for the most part) we can only make assumptions.
Given that the show is so open in terms of sexuality, it sort of makes sense that showrunners wouldn’t keep Aml Ameen on if anything homophobic or transphobic was going down. Given that Jamie Clayton tweeted about it, we can only assume she was involved to some extent.
I think it always sucks when an actor is switched in a show or movie. Some of the time it doesn’t matter greatly: Game of Thrones or Harry Potter but other times it’s more noticeable: Dumb and Dumber (the prequel). While I don’t think that Toby Oneumere is a bad actor by any means, I think the character of Capheus has changed drastically between seasons.
Overall, when you include the excellent direction of the show and the limit of 12 episodes per season (which stops things getting boring), you get is a great show. I think season 2 should have been a bit more story driven than it was but overall I still thoroughly enjoyed it and cannot wait for the finale! If you have some spare time and need something to watch, I’d recommend Sense8. Give it one episode and if you’re not remotely interested then you’ve wasted less than an hour of your life and it’s no big deal.
Thanks for reading! Are you a fan of Sense8? Who is your favourite character and how do you want the show to end? Let me know down below! Similarly, if you’re not a fan, let me know why!
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