“Art is love made public.” That is what Hernando Fuentes says to his students in the two-hour Christmas special that premiered on Netflix in December. A simple, yet beautifully crafted statement, it also defines Sense8 itself — a show that embraces what it means to be human in the most authentic yet distinctive way.
The brainchild of ‘Babylon 5‘ creator Michael Straczynski and the iconic Wachowskis known for their ‘Matrix‘ series, Sense8 stands out in its masterful and engrossing originality. Featuring a talented, dedicated cast and an undoubtedly ambitious team of creators and producers, the show defies all realms of possibility. Filmed in nine cities in eight countries around the globe, this is the story of eight strangers living completely separate lives around the world until they find themselves suddenly psychically linked together. Lito Rodriguez, a closeted Mexican actor, finds himself staring at a Korean businesswoman who seemingly appeared out of nowhere. Will Gorski, Chicago cop, is suddenly arm’s length from an Icelandic DJ. Political blogger and hacktivist Nomi Marks finds herself seated next to a bus driver from Nairobi. An Indian pharmacist is suddenly in the presence of a handsome German criminal. Thrown together in what could only be described as fate, these strangers must figure out what is happening to them, why, and work together to escape an evil organization hunting them down.
Mythology such as this involves extensive world-building, and while it is initially confusing and complicated to decipher; Sense8 demands the audience’s full attention in figuring out the mystery along with its lead characters. There’s breathing room for toe-curling romance, character building, and even a few karaoke sessions along the way.
The individual character dynamics are intriguing, to say the least, and considerably stronger when playing out together. When the cluster, as the sensates call themselves, are not putting their heads together to discover the expanse of their psychic link, they’re dealing with the mundane problems of everyday life. Episode after episode, the audience feels connected to each character in vastly different ways; discovering that no matter where we come from and what we believe in we are the same deep down, which is an integral part of understanding the depth of this story — how humanity is interconnected, and always has been since the beginning of time.
And of course, there’s the unmistakable diversity of the cast and characters, and the persistence to showcase sex and sexuality as something that doesn’t need to be hidden or sugar coated. In fact, while filming Season 2, the cast and crew of Sense8 marched in the annual São Paulo Pride Parade and filmed an integral part of the show there as well.
Sense8 affords the chance to do what many deemed impossible before: a transgender woman as one of the protagonists, two prominently gay couples, and four POC with just as much character building as their co-stars. This is a show that celebrates race, culture, and most importantly, identity: it celebrates the notion of being comfortable in one’s skin and being proud of the unique differences that make us who we are. It is its own form of art, in that it embraces love and emphasizes it as the force that draws us all together in spite of our differences.