I may be bending the rules ever so slightly here, because yes, I have seen The Matrix. Meaning the Wachowskis are not new artists to me. That being said, I hadn’t seen any of their work since they came out as transgender women. And when I heard that one of the main characters in Sense8 was a transgender woman, I knew I had to check out this show. It’s certainly not the first piece of media I’ve seen with a transgender character, but it is the first I’ve seen that was written and directed by transgender creators. Therefore, I was curious to see what difference that made, if any, to the way the story was told. I had also read a plot summary, and to be honest, it sounded completely bonkers. So naturally, I had to give it a go.
In a nutshell, Sense8 is about eight strangers around the world who suddenly find themselves connected in increasingly strange ways. They can hear what each other are hearing, access each other’s skills and knowledge bases, and appear to each other around the world. And naturally, there’s an evil, shadowy organization that’s intent on hunting them down. After watching the first couple of episodes, I’m ready to add a lot more adjectives to its description. It is epic, ambitious, beautiful, and so very very expensive. Seriously. Those eight characters literally live around the world, so I don’t even want to know how much it cost to film this show. Luckily, Netflix has very deep pockets.
I will admit to feeling a certain sense of fatigue with shows like this. It seems to have become the standard for this golden age of binge-worthy television that there has to be some sort of overall menace. This usually comes in the form of a shadowy organization with unlimited resources, and every character has to be in peril at all times. Maybe most people enjoy this type of storytelling. Me, I find it exhausting. I’m much more interested in watching characters simply be. Watching how people with different lived experiences navigate their way through life. I don’t want some big conspiracy. I just want to get to know interesting characters.
I think that’s why it took me so long to give Sense8 a try. The trailer certainly emphasizes the action and conspiracy side of the story, but in actuality, that’s almost the B-plot. The Wachowskis spend far more time getting to know these characters, and exploring their lives and how they interact with each other. Sure, most of them spend a lot of time in peril, but it’s often because of circumstances within their own lives that have nothing to do with the show’s big bad. And it’s fascinating to watch how many ways having access to each other’s skill sets comes in handy. One character doesn’t know how to drive? Boom. Another character who does is ready to appear and whisk them away. I know that sounds bonkers, but I swear it works within the context of the show.
I watched the first episode of this show for my daily hart. I watched the next several episodes because I couldn’t help myself. After just one episode, I cared deeply about all eight characters, and that is no easy writing feat. There is also an exchange between two characters later on that is easily one of the funniest I’ve seen on television. I know my description of this show so far doesn’t scream comedy, but it’s actually pretty funny when it wants to be. Action, drama, comedy, mystery, and sprawling locales? Sense8 has it all. So long as it keeps going on the trajectory its going, I’ll be hooked. Obligatory shadowy organization and all.
Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!