Devised by The Matrix masterminds the Wachowskis and Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski, Sense8 launched on Netflix in June 2015 to rather mixed reviews: some critics called it muddled; others felt it slipped into cringey self-importance. But this didn’t stop the show from building a loyal following who realized, quite rightly, that Sense8 is truly original, gradually pulling you into its fascinating and richly emotional world.
Here are 10 reasons you should try season two, which debuts on Netflix today (May 5).
It has a genuinely brilliant premise.
Sense8 centers on eight people from eight different parts of the world who discover they have a strange mental and emotional connection: these so-called “sensates” can communicate with one another telepathically, and also share each other’s knowledge, language, and skills. Lucky them, right? Well, yes, but their otherworldly bond also makes them a target for a mysterious and seemingly powerful organization that perceives them as a threat to the global status quo. So they’re blessed, but also under threat.
It’s visually ravishing.
Sense 8‘s chief cinematographer is the legendary John Toll, who won Oscars for his work on Legends of the Fall and Braveheart. He really makes the most of the show’s dazzling array of global locations including Nairobi, Mexico City, San Francisco, Amsterdam, London, São Paulo, Berlin, and Los Angeles.
This is a show with no hang-ups.
Because Sense8 doesn’t have to worry about network censors, its storytelling can be as sexually explicit as it needs to be. That’s not to say the show features gratuitous nudity or shamelessly titillating love scenes — because it doesn’t. It’s more that the writers are given full creative license to create an intimate, pansexual, and wonderfully libertarian world for their characters.
It’s horribly binge-able.
Netflix said that 70 percent of viewers who watched the first three episodes of season one went on to devour the remaining nine. So if you have a relatively quiet weekend coming up, Sense8 could be perfect.
And it’s worth getting invested.
Because according to Deadline, Netflix is currently finalizing deals for a third season with the main cast members.
It uses some great music.
Season one included an ensemble rendition of 4 Non Blondes’ alt-rock classic “What’s Up?,” while last year’s Christmas special featured a re-imagined version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” called — wait for it — “Happy F*cking New Year.” We’re excited to see which classic tunes get reinvented in season two.
Sense8 features a properly multinational cast.
Some shows pay lip service to diversity, but because of its planet-spanning premise, this show includes a wonderful range of actors and characters with a mix of backgrounds and nationalities. And look out for former Doctor Who actress Freema Agyeman, who plays an ally of the sensates called Amanita.
The cast also features a proper sci-fi icon.
Blade Runner‘s Daryl Hannah pops up throughout as Angelica Turing, a zen-like matriarch figure for the sensates.
Sense8 explores LGBT themes beautifully.
The show’s first season won plenty of praise for its three-dimensional and relatable selection of LGBT characters, including a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Drama Series. Perhaps most affecting is Lito Rodriguez (played by Miguel Ángel Silvestre), a successful Mexican actor who initially feels he has to hide his sexuality from his fans.
It always has its heart in the right place.
Even when Sense8 feels a little stilted and overwrought, there’s no doubting its good intentions. This is a show about love, freedom, and nurturing your own self-worth. “The real violence, the violence I realized was unforgivable, is the violence that we do to ourselves, when we’re too afraid to be who we really are,” says Jamie Clayton‘s character Nomi, a trans woman, in season one.
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