Last night, after my husband and I finished watching the last episode of ‘Sense 8,’ I rushed to the computer, Googling the show to see when to expect season 2. Maybe never! Wait, what? According to Think Progress and other sources, the diverse show featuring eight characters from different countries around the world may not be appealing enough to white males. Main characters also include a trans woman and a gay man.
“Sense 8” is visually stunning. Scenes represent places all over the world including Nairobi, Seoul, Mumbai, Reykjavik, and San Francisco. I live in San Francisco and the location scout nailed it. I’ve seen favorite places around town including Dolores Park, Twin Peaks, and Atlas Cafe. The opening sequence featuring cityscapes and landscapes is so gorgeous, my husband and I never get bored of watching, never fast forward the montage the way we usually do when we watch a series. The series is created by the Wachowski siblings of Matrix fame if that helps to explain the film quality.
The actors glow as vibrantly as the scenery. Whoever did the casting must’ve been looking for luminous. But what I love most about the show is watching the women in action. First there is Nomi who is transgender and like no other trans character I’ve seen on TV in that she happens to be trans. Unlike Sophia, played by Laverne Cox, on “Orange is the New Black,” Nomi isn’t passionate about hair or make-up. Her character doesn’t show concern with her appearance or her body, she just is. Nomi is a computer hacker and political blogger, totally in love with her girlfriend, Amanita.
I got into the show early on because of the relationship between Amanita and Nomi. Crazy shit was happening to Nomi. She was seeing things, talking to invisible people, and thinking she was crazy but at the same time, knowing she wasn’t. Surprising me, Amanita doesn’t flinch. She believes and supports Nomi 100%, bravely risking everything to support her lover’s truth and safety.
My favorite character in Sun. She is from Seoul, the daughter of a powerful man, practically invisible because she is female. Her loser brother gets all the coddling and adoration.
If you read Reel Girl, you know I’m not much interested in seeing sexist fantasy worlds. Been there, done that, live it every day. I’m much more interested in witnessing artists use their imaginations to create new ways of being. “Sense8” delivers this scenario with all of its characters, but especially with Sun. In action scene after scene, she kicks-ass.Her facial expression often shows the submission expected by her culture and her fiery refusal to accept it.
Riley is a DJ from Iceland. I enjoy traveling all over the world while I watch the show, but Iceland is my favorite place to see. It’s different than anywhere I’ve ever been, and now I’m dying to go.
Kala is a pharmacist who can mix all kinds of chemical concoctions. She prays to Ganesha, is a Bollywood fan, and also struggles between being the woman her family expects her to be and taking the risks of being who she wants to become.
The male characters are also compelling. Capheus is from Nairobi, totally dedicated to his brave mom who is sick with HIV. His talent is driving, he can hotwire any car and make it go like a madman. Wolfgang is from Berlin, he’s a scrappy fighter with a big heart. He’s got a crush on Kala. Lito lives in Mexico City, he’s a sexy leading man who is also gay, in a loving relationship that’s tested by his fear of coming out. Will is a police officer from Chicago, haunted by an unsolved mystery from his past.
So what’s the show about? From the New Yorker:
The premise of “Sense8” is that Nomi, Lito, Wolfgang, and Will—along with four other “sensates” in Nairobi, Seoul, Mumbai, and Reykjavik—are telepathically linked. They are able to feel each other’s emotions, appear in each other’s minds, and even control each other’s bodies…
In sci-fi speak, “Sense8” is about transhumanism—the idea that in the future, as a species, we might become more than we are right now. Julian Huxley, the brother of Aldous, coined the term in a 1927 book called “Religion Without Revelation,” in which he wrote that transhumanism was “man remaining man, but transcending himself, by realizing new possibilities of and for his human nature.”…
Really, though, the point of “Sense8” is to revel in the broadening of empathy—to fantasize about how in-tune with each other we could be. In its own, low-key way, therefore, “Sense8” is a critique of sci-fi. It asks whether, in tying our dreams about human transformation to fantasies of technological development, we might be making an error. The show suggests another path to transcendence: each other.
“Sense8” has gotten some bad reviews for being cheesey and meandering. Maybe part of my love for the show is that I happen to be watching it at the perfect time in my life. I have a strong sense of how we are all connected, that humans are not objects/ subjects but verbs, constantly changing and transforming, affecting each other, magical. “Sense8” depicts the highs, lows, and intensity of this feeling perfectly. It’s funny because when I was a kid, I didn’t even read much fantasy. I was into Laura Ingalls because that was “real.” The older I get, the more I lose my cynicism and skepticism and believe in magic. “Sense8” inspires me. I hope you watch it, and love it as much as I do.
Reel Girl rates “Sense8” ***HHH***