‘Sense8’ breaks down borders, promotes inclusivity

Normally I am very hesitant to start a new show. It doesn’t matter if that means tuning in once a week at the same time and on a real television, or plugging in my headphones at the library to watch Netflix when I should be doing homework—I’m just skeptical of new things. Recently, however, I decided to watch the first and only season of “Sense8.” Although I’m of the belief that it’s usually most satisfying to start a new series knowing it already has several seasons, I took comfort in the fact that each episode is about 50 minutes long. The first episode had me hooked.

Looking behind the scenes, it is clear that one of the obvious strengths of this show comes from its creative team which (for season one) was spearheaded by Lilly and Lana Wachowski. These trans women are sisters who have both shared the roles of creator, showrunner, screenwriter and director for “Sense8’s” first season.

A not-so-short list of reasons to like (but most likely love) this show includes:

“Sense8” is a poster child for diversity among both cast representation and narrative. Both the leading and the supporting actors all represent a large variety of identities. Unlike many other television series which typically focus on only a couple of main characters, “Sense8” balances the lives of eight leads. If you need another reason to love this show, just think about the casting. For instance, I was beyond happy to see the character Nomi Marks, a trans woman, being played by an actual trans woman (American model and actress Jamie Clayton). In a number of recent films and television shows, trans people have been played by cis-gendered actors; in this case, “Sense8” shows that the industry can and should do a better job with representation.

While a cast list isn’t typically the most exciting thing about a show, I think it is very important to know that the show also stars Spanish actor Miguel Ángel Silvestre; Aml Ameen and Tuppence Middleton, who are both from London; Indian actress and model Tina Desai; German actor Max Riemelt; Brian Smith, an American actor from Dallas, TX; and Bae Doona, who is an actress from South Korea. I think it is special that this show can boast not only an international cast, but also an international setting. The variety of identities represented is just as wonderful as the number of locations used for “Sense8” which range from Nairobi, Kenya, to Reykjavík, Iceland. Fun fact: because the main cast constantly traveled together to film in these locations, extras and crew were hired from all around the globe. For instance, scenes shot in South Korea were filled with some of Seoul’s best actors.

Another special thing about this show is that it’s neither a sequel, nor a reboot of something any of us have seen before. There is a lot to this series that makes it feel so original. While a sizable part of the story is rooted in a science fiction-type plot, “Sense8” does not make the supernatural elements the sole appeal of the series. Knowing that episode titles such as “I Am Also a We,” “Art is Like Religion” and “Death Doesn’t Let You Say Goodbye” exist, I would hope you believe me when I say that “Sense8” is a show that is as much about the human condition as it is the more-than-human connection between the eight main characters. Even though not all of us can claim that we are businesswomen by day and ultimate fighters by night, or closeted gay actors, or even German thieves, “Sense8” remains extremely relatable because of the true-to-life way these characters are written. I will admit that as much as I love the writing in this show, it can get a bit corny at times.

I recommend downloading Shazam before watching this show. “Sense8” is so full of great music. I swear, if there was a CD of all of the music used in this show, I would buy it. There truly is a song for everything. Electronic tunes and instrumental scores alike find their way into scenes including (but in no way limited to): bloody fight sequences, eight-person orgies, raves, weddings, prison riots and international flights. Speaking of the wonderful variety of music-informed scenes, I have to take this moment to praise the way “Sense8” consistently balances what sometimes feels like a music video-esque compilation of very hot sex scenes with suspenseful chases, violent fights and heart-to-heart conversations.

The show was picked up for a second season, due in early May, but if you plow through the first season like I did, have no fear—they released the first episode of season two already, a whopping two-hour Christmas/New Year’s episode.

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