By LAYANN BASILEH
Sense8 is a science-fiction Netflix original that effectively diversifies its genre. Created by Lana and Andy Wachowski, the directors of The Matrix, Sense8 revolves around eight vastly different people who slowly discover that they are all “sensates,” human beings with the ability to connect empathetically and telepathically with other sensates. The eight main characters belong to the same “cluster,” a strongly bonded group of sensates who have the power to share skills and knowledge with each other.
The actual filming of the show is an amazing process. The first season was shot in nine different cities across the world such as Seoul, South Korea, Mumbai, India and Reykjavik, Iceland. The directors included as much culture as they could from each of the cities by using local actors in each city as supporting cast. Some scenes were even filmed during real events: a scene where a character falls off a motorcycle during a Gay Pride Week parade was filmed during the real parade. The entire season was filmed by city rather than chronologically, which forced the cast to film the same scene multiple times in different locations.
Sense8 is a character-driven show. As a consequence, the main plot line, which consists of the sensates being hunted down by a mysterious ninth sensate named Whispers, is often put on the backburner. This plot can seem tedious, especially to viewers who are eager to learn more about the background of the sensates.
By focusing on the main eight characters, the show allows the viewers to experience someone else’s life, just as the sensates do. All the characters have their own narrative arc, with problems that range from recovering from a traumatic past to a loveless engagement to the challenges of being transgender and gay. Sense8 could almost be seen as eight different stories that slowly fuse into one cohesive whole.
These arcs occasionally intertwine with one another. Two arcs in particular cross paths often. One of the sensates, Capheus, is trying to obtain AIDS medicine for his sick mother in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. After the newly bought medicine is taken by a gang, Capheus chases down the gangsters, determined to get the medicine to his mother. Capheus, however, is overwhelmed, and receives help from Sun, a businesswoman in Seoul, Korea who shares her kickboxing skills with him, allowing him to beat the gangsters. Sun continuously assists Capheus, and he, in return, listens to her express her anguish over having to choose whether to save her estranged brother and father from financial ruin and lose her freedom, or to save herself and break the promise she made to her mother. The interlaced arcs also serve to further develop characters, demonstrating how different people can relate to and help one another.
The show is ultimately about empathy and the idea that no matter who we are, where we live, or what we’re going through, we are all connected.