I have posted previously about the extraordinary Netflix action drama that is Sense8, the thrilling, sexy and profound show by Lana and Lily Wachoswski that wrapped recently with a 2 and a half hour series finale. I have in those posts also noted the timidity, prudishness and arrogance of critics who responded to this artful show with scorn and condescension. In many cases, they trashed it without having even watched it, which helped lead to its premature cancellation after only 2 seasons.
And yet, in response to that sudden cancellation, vast numbers of Sense8 fans around the world responded angrily and vocally, insisting that Sense8 was a groundbreaking masterpiece. They claimed that it presented an ambitious, compelling, and brave vision of humanity’s future, wrapped in a slick and sexy action-packed package. And in making this case they were right. Remember: the Wachowski sisters (formerly the Wachowski brothers, both having transitioned from men to women) made The Matrix Trilogy and V for Vendetta. They are masters of insanely cool action scenes. But beyond their cinematic skill, Sense8 enacts a truly visionary commitment to the transformative power of empathy as the key to human survival, and to a peaceful and sustainable future. In Sense8, feelings are essentially superpowers!
As a result of the outcry, Netflix agreed to produce a series finale. This was far from the 5 seasons that had been planned originally, but much better than nothing at all. And since I wrote about how great season 1 and season 2 were, I feel compelled to wrap up my own critical response to this series with a few final observations, especially since, as usual, many critics had their heads up their asses in regard to Sense8, or at best offered backhanded compliments while being essentially dismissive.
Yet I can honestly say that I have never seen a dramatic television program that was as beautiful, as profound, as smart, as sexy, as cool and as revolutionary as this finale. If you haven’t seen Sense8, it is worth watching the entire series just so you can experience it in full effect.
Sense8 has been a gut-wrenching tapestry remapping identity, community and humanity with awesomely cool characters, stories and action and love. The series answers the question: what would happen if 8 strangers from all different corners of the globe could suddenly feel and see what each of the others is seeing and feeling? And the answer that the Wachowskis enact so brilliantly and beautifully, is at once obvious and utterly astonishing: they begin to care for each other, to support each other, and even to fight for each other. Not against one another, but against those who are threatened by their solidarity, their compassion, their feelings. In a world dominated by differences of class, of race, of nationality, of tribe, of gender, of sexual preference and more, nothing could be more subversive than to posit that that which unites us is far greater and more powerful than that which divides us.
By creating such compelling and lovable characters, and then by asking those characters to transcend all of their fears and their prejudices, the Wachowskis effectively invite us along for a thrilling ride of self-discovery, in which what we discover most of all is our own fears and prejudices, as well as our ability to overcome them as we accompany the show’s heroes into new dimensions of identity, of community and of love.
I know this will sound hyperbolic, but I am convinced that Sense8 is not only one of the best TV shows ever made, but also one of the most fully realized and revolutionary artistic statements of this young millennium. I think it should be shown in schools and jails and houses of parliament. It is, to my mind, about as good as art gets.
Thank you Lana. Thank you Lily. Thank you to all of the actors and the production team.
What a great trip it’s been.