Culture Television

‘Sense8’ Series is Matrix-Weirdly Good

A sci-fi drama TV show created by the Wachowski sisters that is strange and binge-worthy.

Photo: Netflix

“Sense8” is a peculiar TV show imagined and realized by the Wachowskis; brains behind the “The Matrix” movies. It is an integrated sci-fi drama with succeeding mysteries, Matrix-worthy action sequences, intense emotional episodes, and convincing adult scenes.

The series follows the lives of eight individuals from different backgrounds and pursuasions, including: bleached blonde Icelandic DJ hopeless and melancholic, German James Bond without a license to kill, trans woman hacker with conservative parents, Chicagoan cop exhibiting a bit of the savior complex, closeted Latino actor who lives with his boyfriend and girlfriend, Hindu pharmacist indecisive when it comes to matters of the heart, Korean businesswoman capable of disarming security in her heels, and Nairobian matatu driver with a sunny smile.

These eight people, called sensates, become inexplicably linked and share a psychic bond. This connection enables telepathic conversations across oceans, and the ability to possess or take over the body of another member of the “cluster” in situations where a particular skill or expertise is wanted; to wit, it is very helpful to have a matatu driver “jump in” during a fast and furious car chase to elude the clutches of the grossly unethical Biologic Preservation Organization (BPO); the head of which, Mr. Whispers, while an appropriately creepy villain, would have withered under the killing gazes of Eva Green.

Though an unlikely group of friends under normal circumstances, the shared bond and expanded perspectives that the sensates now have, allows each to empathize with the reasons and actions of the other; albeit sometimes at the expense of compromising their own principals; as is bound to happen, for instance, when a policeman as honest as Clark Kent and a wrongly imprisoned inmate seeking justice outside of the courtroom share thoughts.

Script wise, “Sense8” is ambitious but deliverable; the lines are crisp and to the point, the settings real, and the storyline logical for its world. There are many memorable exchanges; especially when between persons from vastly different cultures, be it added for comedic effect or to demonstrate the relatableness of human suffering. The actors act well, and a few supporting roles do even better.

The cinematography of the series is blockbuster quality; and no doubt, among the chief reasons Netflix decided to prematurely cancel the show after “23 episodes, 16 cities and 13 countries.” Production costs must have been stratospheric. The show’s opening title sequence alone, a phantasmagoria of places and habits from around the world, must have taken a pretty cluster of diamonds to produce.

To wrap-up, “Sense8” is a stimulating show that addresses multiple human themes with a worthy international cast. It appeals to an open-minded audience, and in particular, to viewers with perhaps a more voyeuristic inclination. While it only lasted two seasons, the series made a mark on the fabric of popular culture and accrued a cluster of passionate fans to boot. Meanwhile, we may look forward to the next projects by the Matrix sisters.

By Boripat Lebel

Boripat Lebel is a research coordinator at the Unit for Social and Environmental Research at Chiang Mai University. He authored the eBook “A Vomit of Diamonds.” Boripat can also be found on LinkedIn .

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