If you give me a show that has a small group of people with special abilities against some kind of conspiracy shadow organization, you’re gonna hook me. Any abilities. Any shadow organization. Scifi. Urban Fantasy. Whatever. This is basically my sweet spot of television. That said, while it doesn’t take much to hook me, you’re going to have to work to keep me because I am such a devourer of this subgenre whether television or books.
I hadn’t heard much about Sense8 except that it was by the Wachowskis and on netflix, but that predisposed me to be excited. If I’d heard that J. Michael Straczynski was involved beforehand, I’d’ve done a little jump of joy.
So I sat to watch the first episode right when it came out and was very happy with it. Yay! Diverse characters: Indian, African, Icelandic, Koren, Mexican (as in from those countries)! Two gay couples! Lots of pretty to look at! Daryl Hannah! Only telepathy between them for a power, but well, that’s cool too if not as exciting as, say, Heroes was when it started.
And then friends came over from Germany and work got insane and I didn’t get a chance to get back to it. Until one of my German friends who I’d told about the show whined at urged me to hurry up and finish so that she could squee about the show to me.
Now, in the intervening weeks between seeing the pilot and having a chance to get back to it, Sense8 had picked up some negative press. No one could figure out what it was about. Nothing really happened. It was too confusing and slow. But my friend liked it and she’s a pretty good gauge of what I like, plus the pilot had given me a favorable leaning anyhow so I set aside this long weekend to plow my way through the episodes no matter how bad they were.
Only they weren’t bad. They were pretty flipping amazing, to be honest.
This is where I tell you how big of a character whore I am. For me, story begins and ends with character. You can have the most amazing plot idea in the universe but if the characters are one dimensional you will not be able to keep me as a reader/watcher. And this is the heart of Sense8: the characters. What is human? How can some people be such monsters? Why do the richest people often have the least heart? Why do people who grow up in poverty share the most and open their homes? These are generalizations, of course, because people are people regardless. But Sense8 takes the time to explore more than just the surface of each character.
I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that’s why people don’t like this show. All the ‘action’ takes place in the contect of their lives. Instead of using just the pilot to give the audience an overview of the characters, they do so every single episode. We’re a culture that’s been conditioned to have our tv in a certain way every week, to follow a formula and to imagine the depths of the characters we see and Sense8 is a show that makes us work for it. I’m not going to get spoilery, but for ‘regular’ action, you’ll have to wait until the middle of the season. But when they really get going? Hot damn! “Smart money’s on the skinny bitch” isn’t just an episode title. ;o)
This is not a show to watch if you’re impatient or demand to have a central plot dominate every episode. There is a central plot, but it’s spread out so skillfully over the first season that you don’t really get it until about episode 4. Sense8 is ultimately about people and their relationships, and we spend the entire season watching it play out. Also, each episode is a tether to the next one, there aren’t really any stand alone episodes. It’s a very organic show and you really do need to start at the beginning. But this is Netflix, so that’s not really a problem.
Also, if you have a problem with gays, lesbians, or gay sex, this show will make you uncomfortable because, being in committed relationships, the gay characters do have actual sex. OMG! (In case you can’t tell, the sexlessness of gay characters is a pet peeve of mine)
I’ll sum up my happiness and satisfaction with Sense8 like this: PLEASE HIRE ME TO WRITE FOR YOU! /squee