I mean, there’s six thousand reasons. This post could be the longest one I’ve ever written, so I’m going to narrow it down to three things that I keep coming back to over and over: the characters, the plot, the queerness. Sense8 is truly one of my most beloved shows, and
though I haven’t rewatched it a long time LIES I’M REWATCHING IT RIGHT NOW, I probably think about it at least once or twice every week. It’s just above and beyond anything else that’s ever been written, and it still baffles me that Netflix just shoved it under a rug until it died. If they’d promoted it like they did literally any of their other big shows, Sense8 would have been huge. But it was weird, and it was queer, so it would have taken actually giving a shit to promote it, and they didn’t, so we’re instead left with an amazing first season and a rushed second one. They still managed to tie everything together, and though it was batshit fast at the end, it did all make sense, and we still got a last little fuck you in at the end with that rainbow dildo after a full-cast orgy. YES YOU HEARD ME RIGHT, THAT’S A REASON, TOO.
There are eight main characters in this show, and I’d like to spend half of this time talking about the love of my life, Hernando Fuentes. NAME A SINGLE CHARACTER YOU LOVE MORE, I DARE YOU. Truthfully, Lito is my favorite, and I fangirl shriek at the screen every time he does literally anything, but Hernando has my heart until the end of time. Whenever I think about DOSAB, I love to just randomly shout KAROUUUUUUU, and the same thing started happening in The Thief whenever Eugenides had a scene, so it seems only fitting that I should find a third to round out that–I’m sorry, it’s a fourth, I forgot about my JamSHIIIID moments–weird little cluster of characters because yes, whenever he has a scene, I just go oh HerNAAANdo like a total dweeb, I can’t help myself.
Really, though, the characters. There are a lot of things that might have made this show amazing, and we could have done with subpar characters with all the rest of the wonderful things, but they really went hard on the characters. From Will’s total Dad™ aesthetic to Riley being an absolute badass that’ll break your heart. From Lito’s villain mustache drama to Nomi’s sheer furious will to live and love. From Wolfgang’s actual solve all my problems with a bazooka attitude to Kala’s insanely big heart. From Capheus’ beautiful wonder and awe at everything to Sun’s get away from me hard exterior that hides the softest love ever. And that’s not even to start in on Diego, Felix, Amanita, Bug, Daniela, Jela, and Rajan. When even the side characters that only see a little screen time have got you yelling, you know you’ve done it right. I mean, Diego’s got, like? Three scenes in the entirety of season one? And I was still hollering every time he came onscreen during my rewatch. And when Diego gets to meet Riley for the first time? Y’ALLLLLLL WHAT I WAS NOT READY.
These characters. There is not enough good in the world that I can say about them. Forget Netflix–if this show had had subpar characters, but a fantastic plot and queerness to boot, it probably would have fizzled out eventually. But with these characters? This show would probably still be running if it wasn’t for Netflix intervening. They made this show what it was, and it’s lived so long in so many hearts because of them.
Real talk, though, the plot in Sense8 is off the damn chain. It’s chaotic in a way that reminds me of Interstellar and how closely I had to pay attention to make sure I was getting everything because it’s wildly complex, but so, so good. One of my favorite things is that, despite the plot being insane, when Netflix did cancel it and we were only given a single extra long episode to wrap everything up, the Wachowski’s freaking did. They took that challenge to heart, and they really ran with it.
Is that last episode next level crazy? Yes, but it works! They pulled all the loose threads together, braided in happy endings and closure, and gave us the absolute most out of that episode. That they were able to do that meant that they’d had such tight storytelling to begin with, and though there were definitely still questions at the end that they could have gone on for seasons exploring, they also gave this incredible show as perfect of an ending as was possible. I felt so satisfied by the end of this, and that we clamored so loudly for that ending and then had it delivered so amazingly is just–wow. Wow.
The writing in this show is impeccable, and I think one of the biggest things that stands out to me, time and time again, that when you dig beneath the layers of science fiction, the basis of the entire story is hope. It’s the same reason that I love LOTR so much. Beneath the elves and the magic and the superhuman villains, LOTR is about hope. It’s about ordinary people put into horrible situations that should strip them of all hope, but still rising up despite that, still finding hope in those moments. And the same thing applies to Sense8. I’ve just finished season one as I’m drafting this, so it’s fresh in my mind, but when one of them inevitably crosses paths with Whispers, the antagonist, the only way forward seems to be suicide. And yet, and yet, each of these eight characters has so much hope, or just potential for hope, inside of them that they don’t give up. They never give up. They are always willing to fight for themselves, and for each other, in order to see another day. And that, more than anything, is what makes this show so powerful.
Honestly, gonna be real here and call Netflix out on its homophobia. Because you cannot convince me that they a) on purpose did not promote this and b) was forced to keep responding to its attempts to cancel with more episodes because they aren’t homophobic. And yes, times have changed, and there is a lot of queer representation on Netflix right now, but when this came out? I can’t think of a single other TV show with queer main characters on a major service. There was nothing on cable TV in 2015, nothing else streaming on Netflix or any other services, no queerness front and center except for Sense8. And Netflix let it die. They refused to promote it, they hid it beneath other new releases, and, when they were called out for cancelling when views were up and fans were clamoring for it, they were forced to produce a second season a full two years after the first one and then again forced to produce a series finale. The fact that there was enough noise that Netflix had to reboot this twice until the Wachowski’s ended it with a godsdamn orgy and a rainbow dildo? Mhmmmmm.
Don’t even come for me, I’m right, and you know it. This had a main trans character, a main gay character, a main poly relationship, and arguably several main bi or pan characters just based on the fact that the entire cluster often has sex with each other. And though there is some queer drama in this during season one with Lito & Hernando, this is resolved with the most queer joy possible in the world. Like, give me relationships falling apart only to come back together at one of the world’s biggest Pride parades in a public display of queer love, YES PLEASE. Also, the fact that Lito & Hernando came back together with Daniela? DON’T EVEN TALK TO ME! I am not okay, and I never will be. This show deserved eight seasons.
Also, this show fucking won a GLAAD award & was nominated for two Emmys, you can’t lie to us, Netflix.
The queer joy in this is unparalleled, though. Never once is there ever an issue between Nomi & Amanita. Their love for each other is unshakeable. I’m talking not even batting an eye when Nomi starts to reveal that she’s hearing voices. Nah, instead, Amanita literally threatens to burn down a building so that she can save Nomi’s life. We’re on the run now and need to do some illegal shit? Amanita’s over here decked out in all black ready to be a spy. The amount of strength and resilience in these two characters love for each other has never been seen again in television, and the only film I can think of that echoes it back is The Old Guard, so that right there pretty much tells you everything you need to know. Nomi & Amanita are our modern equivalent of Joe & Nicky, goodbye.
Rajan’s alright okay I can work with this vibe toward Wolfgang? STOPPPPPP, I truly cannot. Lito’s we had sex and it was very special while Will is just short circuiting because YA BOY LIKED IT. Hernando????? (You knew we’d end up here, don’t act surprised.)
The level of queerness, period, not even starting in on the queer joy, is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, and probably unlike anything we’ll ever see again. Thank you, Lilly & Lana Wachowski, for the great gay service you did for us.