Now that you’re finishing off those final episodes of Orange is the New Black and settling into the lazy days of summer, you may be looking for a new show to binge on before fall rolls around. The good news is that Netflix’s new series Sense8 may be just what you’re looking for.
The basic premise of the show is this: A group of eight people find themselves mentally linked with one another from across the globe. It turns out that they are among a very small group of evolved people called sensates. The show is written and directed by the Wachowskis, the team behind The Matrix and Jupiter Ascending (but we won’t hold it against them).
Above all, Sense8 is a seriously character-driven story, which doesn’t get bogged down on overly complicated narratives. It weaves together the main cast well and gives us a rich look at the world around them. If that doesn’t convince you, here are eight reasons why Sense8 should already be on your must-watch list.
There’s a strong LGBTQ presence
Television has come a long way in the past few years to better represent the LGBTQ community and Sense8 reflects that. Two of the main characters, Lito (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) and Nomi (Jamie Clayton), identity themselves as gay and in fact, Nomi is transgendered. Much like Laverne Cox’s turn in Orange is the New Black, Nomi’s character is portrayed by a real-life transgendered actress, and the show doesn’t shy from delving into the struggle of growing up with gender dysphoria. Both Lito and Nomi also have partners, Hernando (Alfonso Herrera) and Amanita (Freema Agyeman), that get a heavy dose of screen time and are an essential part of the series.
The season starts off with San Francisco’s Pride Parade, where Nomi delivers one of the season’s most unforgettable lines: “I’m not just a me, I am also a ‘we,'” which is part of what sets this show apart. Thanks to their connection to the rest of their sensate group, their sexuality and gender identity aren’t obstacles, but an already accepted part of them. That’s not to say that they don’t have problems connecting with the outside world, but having a main cast that is unquestionably inclusive and supportive is a breath of fresh air. On that note…
Sense8 boasts a diverse cast
The show spans four different continents, with locations varying from Chicago to Seoul to Mumbai to Nairobi. There’s a big audience out there looking for shows that reflect the world in a real and diverse way, and Sense8 strives to accomplish that. Similar to how the other sensates aren’t judgemental of Lito and Nomi, we don’t experience culture clash as much as we get to see people explore a new part of the world for the first time. When characters like Kala (Tina Desai) and Wolfgang (Max Riemelt) interact, they seem in awe of their surroundings, opposed to being afraid of it. It brings them closer and, even better, it makes our own world feel that much smaller.
Nomi and Amanita
There are a lot of wonderful and moving relationships in Sense8, but Nomi and Amanita really take the cake. Within the first couple of episodes we immediately get the sense that they are truly devoted to each other. Not only does Amanita accept Nomi’s new gifts as a sensate, she doesn’t hesitate to jump into danger to help her. Clayton and Agyeman have perfect chemistry together and they really offer a window into a beautiful relationship that some people may not initially understand or accept. It’s impossible not to fall in love with them.
The sensate’s ability to help each other
While the emotional connections between the sensates is the heart of what drives the show, some of the most exciting moments are when they are able to help each other in tight spots. In fact, Sun (Doona Bae) and Will (Brian J. Smith) become major assets, thanks to their ability to fight. Each sensate brings a different skill to the group and as the show progresses they are able to intervene more and more, leading to some great action scenes throughout. At the same time, it also heightens the emotional connection, when you see them reach out into order to save the other.
Obviously, some abilities are more useful than others, but each person does get a chance to help someone out one way or another. That ability becomes a lot more fluid and powerful as the season progresses, which equals to some great action sequences near the end.
The show moves slowly… but that’s a good thing
The Wachowskis really took their time with the first season to properly introduce both the concept and the characters, which is a gamble that has luckily paid off. Sense8 has a relatively large ensemble, so the slowed pace at the beginning of the season helps to make sure we understand who the characters are and why we should care about them. It takes awhile before the sensates really interact with each other, beyond awkward looks and confused double takes, but watching them slowly get to know each other adds a lot of depth to show as it goes on.
By the finale, we’re so engrossed with the characters that it ends up feeling that much more powerful. As much as the sensates are connected to each other, we feel like we’re connected with them too.
There’s a lot of humour in spite of some pretty dark moments
Make no mistake–Sense8 is a pretty violent and sexual show, thanks to its Netflix status. There’s a lot of blood and death, but there’s also a good amount of humour to keep us from falling into a pit of despair. Yes, I’m talking about you Game of Thrones.
Lito in particular is one of the comedic highlights. Underneath that tough action star persona, is a big, awkward softie who just wants to please everyone. The lighter moments are what give life to the characters and make us root for them that much more.
Don’t get me wrong–all of the sensates are great characters, but Capheus (Aml Ameen) is a real bright light of the show, in spite of some of the terrible things he endures throughout the season. From his obsession with Jean Claude Van Damme, to his unyielding devotion to his mother, to his superhero-like sense of right and wrong, it’s easy to be drawn to him. Who can resist such an optimistic guy?
Ultimately, Sense8 is about love
Corny as it may sound, Sense8 is a show that is about the relationships and connections we form with the people around us. It’s a universal theme that we can all relate to and it’s what makes the show so compelling, far beyond the growing mystery of its premise. There are so many close relationships that develop over 12 episodes, romantic or not, it’s impossible not to find something to fall in love with.
So what are you waiting for? Sense8 is ready to stream on Netflix right now. If you’ve already tuned in, share some more reasons why you love the show in the comments below.
Associate Editor Kelly Townsend always had strong opinions on TV growing up, so it was only natural to evolve from couch musings to online journalism. She can't ever choose a favorite series, so please don't ask. Her writing has also appeared on IndieWire and Tribute.ca. You can find her on Twitter at @kellybtownsend.