Finally, a sci-fi show that’s not afraid of tackling sex and gender issues! With a positive representation of the LGBT community, boundary pushing mental orgies, and openly gay main characters (including a lovely trans mtf lady), it makes the Wachowskis’ strange obsession with filming birthing mothers almost forgivable. (Seriously, who wants to look at a stretched, bloody vagina with a baby’s mushy head poking through it?)
Speaking of the Wachowskis, Sense8 is the clear next step on the podium of their work. It combines Cloud Atlas’ twisted and confusing plot devices with V for Vendetta’s startling alacrity to depict government conspiracies around every corner. Add a dash of Matrix-like multiple realities, and you’ve got an idea of what you’ll see in Season 1. Now, if we can ignore Straczynski’s prolific character exposition, the show is actually pretty good. In my opinion, it spends a little too much time defining the individual stories of each character. I mean, when you have upwards of ten main characters, it does take time to develop their backstories, but usually simpler is better when you already have a plot involving 8 psychically linked people trying to avoid a government conspiracy.
Let’s take a quick look at our 8 mentally-intertwined (and slightly incestuous) siblings: I really enjoyed the variety of characters, and the high quantity of strong females. The quality of their relationships with one another makes me hopeful for humanity. Here is a group of basically decent people, (Wolfgang doesn’t turn trigger happy until close to the end of the season), who stick up for each other regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. You can’t ask for a better overall message than that!
SUN BAK: She is definitely my favorite! She is one sexy, smart, badass chica! Those Muay-Thai moves of hers would fit right in in any Van Damme or Jackie Chan flick. I loved every serious-faced second of on-screen Sun time.
“I take allllll that emotion, and I push it down into my fists.”
CAPHEUS: I love Capheus’ attitude and respect for family. His sunny disposition and sensible optimism made me smile every time he came onscreen. And the Van Damme Van—I mean, who couldn’t love that??
NOMI: I *love* the fact that Sense8’s character roster included a badass trans woman. This show took a brave step in the direction of positive LGBT community portrayals. Using Nomi’s character to illuminate and target some serious discrimination issues against the LGBT community was a pleasing change in the attitude of major network PR. I suppose we really shouldn’t be surprised at this exceptionally modern viewpoint, given the proclivities of one Lana Wachowski. (Previously, the Wachowskis used to be known as the Wachowski Brothers, until “Larry” underwent the change to “Lana”.) Still, it was nice to see.
WOLFGANG: Oh. My. Gawd. Excuse me while I fangirl out a moment. I’m fairly certain Max Riemelt is one of the sexiest men on television, and not just because he isn’t shy about showing off his pecker on screen. That scowly face of his is just so cute when he gets all serious and gangsta! Gotta love that sex-appeal factor. His interplay with Kala makes me so happy—“Oh god, you are a demon!”.
LITO: Speaking of sexy men….Between Lito and his boyfriend Hernando, I’m not sure who’s sexier. Add in Daniela’s ass, and holy cow! That’s one heck of a trio of hotsimama! But anyway, Lito’s character is kind of hilarious. I mean, Latino Soap Opera star? You can’t get more dramatically awesome than that. And Those Pants! I seriously cannot get over Those Pants…They’re so tight, it makes me wonder how he fits all his junk in there. If you watch closely enough, you can actually see that they make him walk funny. Epic.
KALA: Tina Desai is such a beautiful girl! I loved watching her in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and I loved seeing her again in Sense8. Kala’s character is so sweet, and her clothes are GORGEOUS!!! One of her dresses has become the object of a future sewing project for me, because I just cannot get over how fabulous it is. But I think what I loved best about Kala was her sweet nature. She’s the Belle to Wolfgang’s Beast, and the gentle conscience of the siblings. I really enjoyed her monologue about science and faith being intermingled.
“My love for science doesn’t preclude my faith. It’s only that science is another language we use to talk to about the same miracles that faith talks about.”
“But one language makes sense, one doesn’t…”
“Sense? Like quantum physics? Like a particle that can be here, and not be? Or sense like gravity? A force no one knows why it exists. Only that, if it didn’t exist…if there wasn’t this mysterious attraction, this pull between objects…none of this would exist either.”
“Thank god for gravity.”
Next to Sun’s badassery, Kala’s intellectualism and gentleness makes her my other favorite character.
WILL: Cute. Hoo-RA, Chicago Police! Buuuuuut, a little lack-luster in the character department. He basically seems to be there to bring the team together when Riley needs help. I’ll admit his handcuff picking skills are handy, but hey, anyone can learn that from a 5 minute youtube video, or a kink 101 class… His one redeeming moment is that interchange between himself and Lito in the last episode. (“Do I know you?” “We had sex.” “Uhhmmmm…” “It was special.” “Ah…”)
RILEY: Oh, that poor, poor broken girl. Quel dramatique! Our little emo dj… Well, I think we can make a pretty good guess that she’ll be the one to give birth to the new sensate in future episodes. The mother motif that runs through her script is so strong, I’m surprised it didn’t slap me upside the head while I was watching the show. Despite that, I think she’s almost as inconsequential a character as Will. (Again, her biggest moment is in the season finale when she becomes the target of rescue.) I’ll be interested to see how her character develops through the next season, but I’m hoping they’ll give her a bit more personality, and maybe some backbone.
While I enjoyed the show, the only episode that truly wowed me was the season finale. I think I may have kept watching the series waiting for that moment when the team would come together and start using their powers effectively, with panache. It was gratifying to see it happen. Finally. After 12 episodes. Despite the drawn out and convoluted story development, I think that Sense8 does a fantastic job of bringing up important gender-related social issues in a positive light. Because of that, I give it a 8/10 rating. If I were just basing my rating on plot, character development, and script, it would be a 7-7.5/10. Still very good, but not the best show I’ve ever seen. There’s room for improvement in future seasons, and it definitely has potential for becoming a mind blowing series. I think the writer(s) just need to be careful about putting too much detail into the script. With 8+ main characters, simpler is better.
For another highly funny take on the show, here’s a link to UPROXX’s “Confessions of A Sense8 Viewer Who Has No Idea What Is Happening So Far”. It’s seriously funny, and points out the script prevarications and character confusion which lowered my score down to a 7-7.5. Enjoy!