Sense8: The Show for Humanity

Sense8: The Show for Humanity

This review is SPOILER FREE.

About 8 months ago, just before the summer break from university, I was scrolling through Netflix with my father when, quite by accident, we came across a show called Sense8. I had scrolled past it a number of times, seeing in the presentation of the title and poster what I assumed to be seemed to be a fairly run-of-the-mill sci-fi series. On this particular day, however, we were bored. We’d completed all the series we’d previously been watching together and felt curious enough to check this out. Perhaps I could even say we were mysteriously and intuitively pulled to watch it. Whatever the case, we decided to give it a go and see if it could grab us in the first one-hour episode.

3 hours later, we could only stop watching after we were dragged away from the TV by a hungry and bemused mum. From the very first episode, we were hooked.

Sense8 is a show quite like any other. Made by the Wachowski’s, the same dynamic sibling duo who created the incredible Matrix films, this series is the philosophical, sensory, emotional smorgasbord the likes of which has never been seen on TV before. In my opinion, it is the pair’s best work yet. One of the first things which struck me was its rewatchablity. After we were about six episodes in, mum decided she wanted to know what all the fuss was about and started watching too. Dad and I were so enthralled in this show that we didn’t even mind going back and rewatching the episodes we’d only seen a week before (although this didn’t stop us from steaming ahead with new ones when she wasn’t around). In fact, as I am writing this review, I have just finished the show again for the 3rd time and loved it. The richness of the characters, the beautiful cinematography, the tight, intelligent and detailed script culminate in an experience at once epically fulfilling and yet leaving you ravenously hungry for more.

To give the briefest and most basic of story outlines (skip this paragraph if you prefer to go in without a synopsis), Sense8 follows a group of main characters (eight to be specific) who live all over the world, from Seoul to Los Angels, whom are mysteriously, telepathically and emotionally connected to one another after they all experience the same traumatic vision. Slowly coming to terms with their new situation and the visitations they recieve from one another, and realising that they are not going mad, the eight characters learn to work together via this new ability, both to help solve each other’s plethora of personal problems, and to defend each other from a much larger and more dangerous threat which looms over them as their special connection is discovered by sinister forces.

The show does not let up, each episode ending at a point which leaves you desperate to know more. Sense8 is far from being all action and no emotion however, and rarely, if ever, relies on cheap thrills. Packed with moving and complex personal stories, romances, heartbreaks, personal growth and heroic moments of courage in the face of both physical, emotional and social conflict, the show crafts a set of scenarios and character arcs which are somehow relatable even if you have never experienced anything like that character’s personal struggle. Sense8 does something amazing, which I believe no show has ever done before, in that it creates not just one incredible, relatable main character, but eight of them, all of whom I felt equally and delightfully connected to every time I watch the show, and for some time after. In some miraculous way, Sense8 makes you feel as if you yourself are the ninth member of this cluster of people, connected to them in the same way and at the same moment as they are connected to each other. Going back an rewatching this show is truly like going to see a group of your nearest and dearest friends. This is no small or unimportant feat; for these eight characters represent eight very different types of person, separated by sexuality, gender identity, race, religion, and morality. Yet whether you agree with their actions and choices in the beginning or not, by the time the show has you in its grasp you will realise that despite these differences, you will recognise them in yourself, because of the things that they share with you. In their flaws, strengths, dilemmas, emotions and desires you will find things you now, consciously or not, to be a part of you too. And even in those things to which you cannot relate, you will find yourself drawn in, like gravity, to the one thing which is greater than any number of differences between you and them; your shared humanity. I do not exaggerate when I say these are eight of the most gorgeously, tragically, hilariously, wholeheartedly human characters you will ever meet.

It is hard to describe every little thing which makes this show so great, in fact, I believe to do so I would need to write a short book. Instead, perhaps what is more effective is if I say what this show does for me. Sense8 is a pure and unadulterated celebration of life. Watching it I tasted a rich emotional banquet, a buffet of experiences so potent that at the end it almost feels like I have lived 8 other lives. While watching this show I have soared with joy and been shaken by loss, I have screamed with anger and indignation and shouted with relief and triumph. I have shed tears, I have laughed out loud, I have smiled like an idiot while walking down the street just thinking about events of the show after the fact. I have grown to love every one of these eight characters to the point where I don’t even have a favourite. If you let it, this show grips you and pulls you into its world like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. It’s at the same time delicious escapism and yet more real and truthful than any other series I’ve ever seen. I learned many things from it, I was inspired and had my eyes opened in many ways by it, and after the fact lessons and words of wisdom have stuck with me and been truly valuable in my life. I cannot say more about what Sense8 is, because at the end of the day it is something which has to be experienced by each person for themselves. What you get from it may be different to what I got from it. Perhaps you will not find it as overwhelmingly beautiful and important as I do. Perhaps you will just find it an interesting and entertaining ride. However, all I can say is that if there is even a chance that you will, that you can find in it even a fraction of the power in it that I do, then I would implore you to watch it. You will not regret the time spent, and it may just make a positive impact on your life. After all, in honesty, Sense8 is not a show about 8 individuals who learn to love each other. It is an allegory for all of humanity, and how we can do the same.

Watch the show, take the red pill, and see how far the rabbit hole takes you.

Peace lovers,

Rhys

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