Sense8

From Fanlore
Jump to: navigation, search
Fandom
Name: Sense8
Abbreviation(s): N/A
Creator: Lilly and Lana Wachowski
J. Michael Straczynski
Date(s): June 5, 2015 – June 8, 2018
Medium: Streaming
Country of Origin: USA
External Links: at IMDb and Wikipedia
Official Website
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Sense8 (a play on the word sensate /ˈsɛnseɪt/) is an American science fiction drama streaming television series on Netflix, created, written and direct by The Wachowskis.

The show begins when the psychic connection of eight strangers of a variety of walks of life from different parts of the world is "birthed" by a woman called Angelica, who kills herself to avoid capture by a man called "Whispers". The eight discover they now form a cluster of "sensates": human beings who are mentally and emotionally linked, can sense and communicate with one another, and can share their knowledge, language and skills.

Characters

The Cluster

  • Capheus, a compassionate Matatu van driver in Nairobi who is desperately trying to earn money to buy medicine for his mother, who is suffering from AIDS.
  • Sun Bak, daughter of a powerful Seoul businessman but also a star in the underground kickboxing world.
  • Nomi Marks, a trans woman and hacktivist living in San Francisco currently in a relationship with Amanita.
  • Kala Dandekar, a university educated pharmacist and devout Hindu in Mumbai engaged to marry a man she does not love.
  • Riley Blue, an Icelandic DJ with a troubled past that made her run away to London.
  • Wolfgang Bogdanow, a Berlin locksmith and safe-cracker, he participates in organized crime.
  • Lito Rodriguez, a closeted gay Mexican actor living in Mexico City.
  • Will Gorski, a Chicago police officer haunted by an unsolved murder from his childhood.

Regulars and Recurring Characters

  • Amanita "Neets" Caplan, Nomi's girlfriend
  • Whispers, a Sensate turned against his own kind who leads an organization determined to neutralize or kill sensates
  • Diego Morales, Will's police partner on the force
  • Jonas Maliki, a Sensate from a different cluster-of-eight who wants to help the newly born cluster of sensates
  • Angelica Turing, a Sensate from an older cluster who becomes the "mother" of the cluster of eight new Sensates as she activates their psychic connection
  • Hernando Fuentes, Lito's secret lover
  • Felix Bernner, a locksmith who is the childhood best friend and partner-in-crime of Wolfgang
  • Daniela Velázquez, is Lito's cover to hide his sexual orientation, her ex-boyfriend Joaquin Flores is jealous and violent stalker
  • Jela, Capheus' best friend and partner in the "Van Damn" bus service.
  • Silas Kabaka, a crime lord who approaches Capheus to work for him.
  • Joong-Ki Bak, Sun's younger brother.
  • Kang-Dae Bak, a businessman and Sun and Joong-Ki's father.
  • Detective Mun, policeman, who wants to clear Sun's name
  • Bug, Nomi's old friend who ran with her in their younger hacktivist days.
  • Sanyam Dandekar and Priya Dandekar, Kala's parents.
  • Manendra Rasal and Sahana Rasal, parents of Rajan.
  • Rajan Rasal, Kala's fiancé and then husband.
  • Gunnar, Riley's pianist father.
  • Yrsa, an Icelandic sensate from an older cluster.
  • Sven, Riley's friend in Iceland.
  • Sergei Bogdanow, Wolfgang's rich uncle and Steiner's father.
  • Steiner Bogdanow, a villainous Russian mobster in Berlin who is at war with his cousin Wolfgang and Felix
  • Anton Bogdanow, Wolfgang's father.
  • Lila Facchini, a sensate from another cluster that works alongside Fuchs and is in collusion with Whispers.

Fandom

This article or section needs expansion.

When the series was canceled by Netflix on June 1, 2017, less than one month after the release of its second season on May 5, 2017, due to the cost of how much the series takes to produce—an estimated $9 million per episode—the fans immediately fought back against it by signing petitions such as this one[Dead link] and posting videos and discussions on how to save the series. In response, Netflix eventually agreed to give the series a two-hour finale to tie up the loose ends that Season 2 ended with. A heartfelt letter from Lana Wachowski was released on the Sense8 Twitter and other official social media accounts on June 29, 2017 to let fans know the good news.

Lana Wachowski announced in a Facebook Live video with a few Sense8 cast members on August 5, 2017 that she believed fans would produce more fans, and therefore would be writing a third season of the show.

The show has been praised by many for its LGBT representation, and has been nominated for and won multiple awards, including some for its main title theme music and use of location as an integral part of the story.

Additionally, in 2018, fans successfully crowdfunded for a Sense8 mural in San Francisco, California, home to sensate character Nomi and her girlfriend, Amanita. An idea that originated from fans, actress Maximilienne Ewalt, who plays as Amanita’s mother, Grace, in the show, took on the challenge to make the mural a reality with the help of her muralist friend Diedre Weinberg. Unfortunately, as shown in an update on the SFsense8Mural Facebook page, the mural was canceled. However, it was also mentioned in the post that they were working on getting things set up for murals in Portugal and Spain.

Shipping

Due to the various sexualities canonically displayed in the television: slash, het, and femslash shipping are aplenty. Most of the pairings are canon, such as Wolfgang/Kala, Riley/Will, Hernando/Lito, Amanita/Nomi. A few fanon pairings have appeared: Wolfgang/Felix, Will/Diego, Sun/Kala. The group pairing of all eight characters: Capheus/Kala/Lito/Nomi/Riley/Sun/Will/Wolfgang aka cluster ship or OT8 also appears. In Season 2, love interests for Sun and Capheus were introduced and they are also cherished by the fans of the couples: Sun/Mun and Capheus/Zakia.

Some works are even gen.

Fandom support for all of the pairings were fairly unanimous with the first two seasons, fans often respected each one's pairing. However in Series Finale, two pairings were confirmed by the end that not everyone is supportive of: Kala/Wolfgang/Rajan and Lito/Hernando/Daniela. Of the fans that are supportive, find them great endings and excellent way to finish the series without breaking anyone's hearts (For example the love triangle with Kala, Wolfgang, and Rajan) and great examples of polyships. Others that are against it, in Lito/Hernando's case because they are romantically involved with each other and are not interested in women (even if Word of God says every sensate is pansexual).

Criticism

The show received several criticisms from collectives for the perpetuation of racist stereotypes, whitewashing, White Savior narratives, demonization and desexualization of people of color and the terrible treatment of characters of color and copaganda.

The Wachowskis sisters were also criticized for his lack of tact in addressing issues such as gender and sexuality. Sources cite that "transforming gay canonical characters into heterosexual or bi/pansexuals for OT8 orgy scenes would hurt their sexual orientations and those of viewers. In addition, we have the hypersexualization of Lito and Hernando. While we have Daniela who doesn't care in the least about the privacy of gay couples, whom she shoots and photographs without permission for pure fetishism.

While the actor Aml Ameen (Capheus – season 1) was fired after transphobic episodes against the also actress Jamie Clayton (Nomi – season 1-2).[1] It is said that he was not satisfied with the scenes where his character interacted with the actress who is a trans woman, as well as the character she plays.

Whitewashing

The show’s issues begin when the demographics of its main cast don’t align at all with its basic premise. If eight people are randomly selected from around the globe, it doesn’t make sense that five of them are white and only three are people of color. Depending on the source, the estimated percentage of white people all over the globe is between 10% and 25%. Black people are between 15% and 20%, and most studies coincide that Han Chinese people alone make up 19% of the world’s population. If “Sense8” wanted to be true to the racial realities of the Earth, only one person out of the eight leads should have been white.

The white people are the ones with the most screentime and the ones that move the plot forward and, of course, the majority.[2]

The Problem With Sense8 by Andrea Merodeadora

Desexualization

The lack of screen-time is somewhat patched in season two, as is a major issue with the desexualization of Kala, Sun and Capheus that runs all through the first season. The show, which has a sex scene within the first few minutes of its first episode, and made some headlines due to having a telepathic orgy in its first season, is very open about sex, but in season one it seemed as if white people were a must-have of romantic or sexual scenes.

Kala, of course, is the prime example, terrified and anxious about the idea of having sex with her fiance all through the season, only showing arousal or attraction when around her white love interest. They’re a neat dichotomy: traditional Indian man who she feels no passion for; sexually liberated white man who prances around her dreams naked and makes her feel things. Even in season two, when Kala finally has sex with both her now-husband and her telepathic side-guy, her sex scene with Wolfgang is beautiful and lasts a couple minutes on-screen while her kisses to Rajan are dry, seconds-long pecks to the lips.

With Sun and Capheus, the issue isn’t as noticeable, because it’s easy to see the problems with an offensive story but it’s harder to spot the fault if the story simply isn’t there. In season one, while every other character is falling in love, having sex, wanting to have sex or participating in telepathic orgies, Sun gets speeches about how she channels her emotions into fighting and Capheus gives everyone else naive, nearly childish pep-talks.

Now, of course having characters that are not interested in sex or romance could have been an interesting element in today’s sex-obsessed media landscape but, when the two characters who are shown as completely detached from such relationships also belong to two of the most desexualized racial groups in media, that doesn’t make for positive representation. It just adds to the endless images of Asian and Black people as emotionless, infantilized and desexualized.[2]

The Problem With Sense8 by Andrea Merodeadora

Copaganda and White Savior

The stories of the sensates of color have issues, but so does Will’s. Will Gorski, the white American cop and the character with the most screentime in the show, is from his very introduction a White Savior..

In the first episode, Will and his partner Diego, who’s a Black Latino, are on a shots fired call when they find a bleeding, wounded Black kid at an abandoned building. The child, who seems to be around 12 years old, has been injured by a bullet and obviously belongs to one of the gangs that caused the confrontation, so Diego (the Black cop) wants to leave him to bleed out there, while Will (the white cop) wants to take him to a hospital..

What follows is a deeply uncomfortable scene where Diego and a Black nurse at the hospital tell Will that he should just leave the kid (Deshawn) to die because he will probably grow up to shoot Will at another gang-related squabble.

Will (who is white) has to convince a Black cop and a Black nurse that this Black child’s life is worth saving.

The next episode, we get some emotional talk when Will, who by now we must know is a Good White Cop, goes to visit Deshawn in the hospital. They have a chat that shows that he, the Good White Cop, is not so different to this Poor Black Child From A Bad Neighborhood, and we’re all human, and Will doesn’t see color, and everyone can rise above their circumstances and blah, blah, blah.

Will is a cop and very proud of it, as such, we’re supposed to empathize with him when the show presents the idea that people calling cops “pigs” is comparable to calling gay men the F-word or calling Black people the N-word.[2]

The Problem With Sense8 by Andrea Merodeadora

Treatment of characters of color

In the Christmas Special (s02e01) there’s a scene where Lito arrives at his house and finds that the F-word has been spray-painted on his home as a response to his forced outing to the media. This is followed by a montage where each of the sensates is faced with a word that they perceive as violent, prejudiced or oppressive. Lito sees the actual graffiti, the F-word. Nomi sees the word “freak”. Kala sees “virgin”, Riley sees “slut”. Will sees the word “pig”. Capheus sees the N-word. Wolfgang sees “Nazi” and Sun sees “bitch”.

The initial problem is, well, that some of these make no sense. Particularly Capheus’, who, as many Black fans pointed out, was born and raised in Kenya and has no real reason to feel particularly connected to the N-word, as it’s hardly used in such context.

Less obvious, but still questionable, is the use of “virgin” for Kala, which is a word with no real negative connotation, especially in her context. Maybe “prude” would have been more appropriate.

Wolfgang’s word is also muddy, as he’s first established to be from a Russian family and we’re shown that kids used to call him “commie”, so the fact that “Nazi” is his word, as a Russian German living in Germany, doesn’t make much sense. Pairing that word with homophobic and racist slurs when Nazis were both those things makes the choice not just senseless, but downright offensive.

But the fact that the Good White Cop takes offense to being called “pig”, and that this is compared to homophobic and racist slurs, is plain disgusting. The show proposes that anti-cop sentiment from the very people who are marginalized by police as an institution is oppressive, and as audiences we have to accept this.[2]

The Problem With Sense8 by Andrea Merodeadora

Racist & Stereotypes

Ehrgeitzversagensschoene? I mention this, because this is one of the primary failures of the show: it attaches itself to Americans’ perceptions of how things are in other idioms, as much as, or more than, it attaches to how things actually are.

To put it plainly: Sense8’s depiction of life in non-western countries is built out of stereotypes, and of life in non-American western countries is suffused with tourist-board clichés. The protagonist in Nairobi is a poor man whose mother has AIDS and whose life is ruled by gangs; in Mumbai we have a woman in a STEM career marrying a man she doesn’t love and engaging in Bollywood dance numbers; in Korea we have a patriarchally oppressed wealthy corporate woman who also happens to be a kickass martial artist; in Mexico City we follow a telenovela actor. London and Reykjavik are filmed using tourist locations and anonymous interiors.
Worse, the filmic clichés of each country are brought to bear on the production in each location — each organized by a different director: Nairobi is sweaty, garish, earth-toned, radiantly shabby; Mumbai is multicolored, and Hindu iconned, full of the jewelry, silks, flowers, and jubilant crowds that burst out of classic Bollywood; Seoul is clean to the point of sterility, with little patches of grass and mirrors and windows everywhere, a grey, hi-tech aesthetic; Mexico City is jewel-toned, rife with skulls, full of melodrama deliberately reminiscent of the telenovela; etc. I believe, quite literally, that the filmmakers primarily learned about these other cultures through their films, and considered that enough.

And finally, the pop-cultural elements of the show are all American. There’s no evidence of local or national culture influencing how the non-American characters view themselves or live their lives. The Kenyan sensate idolizes Jean-Claude Van Damme (who is, granted, not American, but known for his role in American action films). The German sensate claims Conan the Barbarian quotes as his personal philosophy. The Icelandic DJ in London puts on 4 Non Blondes’ hideous anthem “What’s Goin’ On?” and infects the entire cluster with a dancing/singing jag. Where there’s no American cultural lead — in Korea and Mexico, and even in the Ganesh-worshipping Indian sensate’s life — the characters’ life philosophies are a blank.[3]
"Sense8" and the Failure of Global Imagination by Claire Light

Fanworks

Fanfiction

Fanarts

Fanvids

Character specific:

Kala/Wolfgang:

Riley/Will:

Nomi/Amanita:

Lito/Hernando:

Meta

Archives, Communities & Resources

References

  1. ^ Nellie Andreeva; Mike Fleming Jr (April 26, 2016). "'Sense8': Aml Ameen Replaced By Toby Onwumere In Wachowskis' Netflix Series". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation. Archived from the original on July 27, 2018. Retrieved July 27, 2018. 
  2. ^ a b c d "The Problem With Sense8. Or How Sense8's Faux-Progressive… by Andre…". 2017-08-12. Archived from the original on 2022-03-11. 
  3. ^ "'Sense8' and the Failure of Global Imagination – The Nerds of Color". 2015-06-10. Archived from the original on 2022-03-11. 
  4. ^ ""I Thought I Was Alone": Thoughts on Sense8". 2015-07-28. Archived from the original on 2022-03-11.