An Ode to Sense8

Published on The Indiependent

Netflix’s latest phenomenon that is set to sweep the world by storm, Sense8 has become the necessary viewing to engage in conversations in both the real world, as well as our online social spheres. More often than not, it becomes a series that is watched in a multi-hour stint, whilst the viewer wallows in their chosen snacks, a vast array of duvets and blankets and an adornment of our comfiest clothes. It has become an overnight hit, and rightly so.

To contextualise the entire show in just one sentence seems ludicrous, but I am going to attempt this feat so as to provide enlightenment. The concept centralises around a ‘cluster’ of eight very different people who are become telepathically linked and begin to share their lives with those who they are linked with, culminating in a reliance upon themselves to survive numerous personal battles. It is, arguably, the perfectly chaotic programme that we have all been waiting for.

Containing a ridiculously attractive cast, including a familiar face or two, there are erotic moments aplenty throughout the season – meaning this is maybe one to watch as a lonesome viewing experience. Yet, the sheer vividness of the scenes provides a sense of true artistry, and a definite talking point. One scene in particular (episode 6 if you’re intrigued) invokes a true moment of theatrical excellence and, strangely, becomes a sensory viewing experience. Much more than mere erotica.

However, it is the characters themselves that really provide depth to the season, hooking our interests and awakening our empathy. Each character brings something unique and individualised to their cluster, as well as a richly vivid storyline and personal life. Perfectly balanced, what one character lacks, another exudes in abundance; situations can often require the entire cluster’s assistance to ensure the very basic human necessity of survival can be achieved. An unlikely combination of people work succinctly as one, embodying the show’s tagline: “I am we.” Interestingly, the characters could not be more different, with the show boasting everything from an underground kickboxing champion from South Korea to a Kenyan bus driver who idolises Jean Claude van Damme. It effortlessly combines eight different walks of life, eight very different life attitudes, eight very different situations into one, tightly-fit season that just works.

Sense8 needs extra commendation, especially in its adoption and presentation of very modern issues. After the success of Orange is the New Black, Netflix once again demonstrates an understanding and maturity in its approach to the issues of sexuality and gender. The treatment and issues of a transgender woman are depicted both delicately and with realism. Closeted homosexuality becomes an internal battleground, much like in the real world. It also seeks to present the modernisation outside of the Western world. The conflicting interests of religion and secularisation in India culminate in a bloody climax. Feminism is given a new backdrop when inequality reigns within the business life of South Korea. The very real struggle of obtaining effective AIDs medication within Kenya is brought to our attention. The show becomes much more than viewing pleasure, but rather a platform for the struggles that our world faces – both close to home and thousands of miles away.

All in all, Sense8 is a show that doesn’t shy away from anything. Vivid sex, graphic violence and sheer terror are balanced alongside presentations of humanity. Feminism and trans issues share airtime with religious and drug problems. Nothing appears to be off-limits, adding an extra dimension of realism and excitement to the show. Sense8 is one not to be missed.

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