TV

5Reasons to Watch Sense8

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On June 5, Netflix debuted all 12 episodes of Sense8, its new series from J Michael Straczynski and Andy and Lana Wachowski, to little fanfare. But I blew through it in one weekend. Here are five reasons I think you should give it a chance (with only very vague spoilers).

1. Sense8 is making a statement about diversity.

The number one reason to watch Sense8 is its diversity. The cast is ethnically diverse, the characters’ sexualities are diverse, the series was filmed in diverse locations across the world, and there is a spectrum of relationships on display from familial to platonic to romantic and everywhere in between. Sense8 is so progressive it has been accused of being only progressive or as one misguided commenter said “Sense8 is what happens when someone decides to try and take Tumblr seriously.”

kj3

People who demand diversity in our media should absolutely be taken seriously. Dismissing this series as too diverse, rampant political correctness, or soulless social justice is short sighted in every way. That a variety of races, sexualities, and cultures are represented should be celebrated, not derided. And while there are some tropes in play I would much rather be discussing how the religious Indian woman’s marriage plot stereotype is handled than wondering why there aren’t any Indian women in the story. In order for representation to be good, it has to start by being present.

Kala and Wolfgang

And for what it’s worth, Kala is my precious sunshine princess and I am completely invested in her and her story.

2. Sense8 is incredibly, engagingly, deliciously sex-positive.

A transgender woman and a woman of color share a sex scene within the first 15 minutes of the first episode and it is only the beginning. The series highlights lesbian sex, gay sex, heterosexual sex, sex for love, sex for lust, sex for fun, sex for distraction, masturbation, sexual curiosity, voyeurism, and there is a polysexual orgy that takes place both physically and mentally. And the salient point: no one is shamed for any of it. The politics of LGBTQ rights and relationships is a plot point in more than one storyline, but the series itself is very clearly on the side against bigots. And very clearly pro-sex.

And to make the rainbow even more complete there is also Sun, who I read as asexual.

3. Sense8 is hopeful.

And in a television landscape littered with angry, angsty, anti-heroes who chew scenery and spit out cynicism it feels revolutionary. Sense8 includes plenty of anger and angst and even a few anti-heroes but but they’re the tools, not the message. The message is “you are not alone”. The sensates discover they can share their whole selves with seven other people; they never have to be alone again.

But that message is not only present within the sensates’ cluster. There are established personal relationships such as between Nomi and her girlfriend Amantia, Riley and her father, or Wolfgang and his best friend from childhood. And there are relationships that build during the season like Lito’s loopy triad and Sun’s gang of imprisoned women.

Capheus and Riley

You are not alone and we are all stronger together.

4. Sense8 is accessible.

Love a mystery? There’s a central one. Looking for a strange evolutionary science fiction hook? This is for you. Fan of family drama? Check, check, check. Want romance? Take your pick! Maybe you prefer stories about superheroes? This is their origin story.

Sense8 is a genre series, with lots of bells and whistles and twists and turns and more questions than answers. But at its heart it’s about the characters, and there’s one (or more, or all!) for everyone.

5. Sense8 is fun.

Television drama is so serious these days! It’s exhausting. There is heartbreak and trauma and Batman-voice-drama all over Sense8, but watching it made me feel lighter. It doesn’t always make sense, and that’s a lot of what I like about it. Sense8 is bold and bright and has a sweeping wackiness that stayed with me for days after I finished watching.

Nomi and Amanita

Let me know what you think!

Anika Dane works at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. She is a writer of words. A dancer of dreams. A pop culture blogger. A feminist and a fashionista. A Social Justice Klingon Warrior Princess who fell in love with the Skywalker family when she was seven years old. Mother of girls. Secretly a dragon.

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