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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
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Sense8 is an American science fiction drama TV series on Netflix. It was created, written, and directed by Lana and Lily Wachowski — known as The Wachowskis. The show was cancelled less than a month after the release of season 2, but was brought back for a two hour long finale episode due to the large fan outcry.



  • Sun Bak: A Korean businesswoman and martial artist living in Seoul, South Korea.
  • Riley Blue: An Icelandic DJ living in London, England.
  • Wolfgang Bogdanow: A Russian-German locksmith involved in organized crime living in Berlin, Germany.
  • Kala Dandekar: An Indian Hindu pharmacist.
  • Will Gorski: An American cop.
  • Nomi Marks: An American trans woman, activist, and hacktivist.


In Sense8, there are two different species of humans, one being homo sapiens sapiens, and the other being referred to as homo sensorium — or sensate. Sensate are different to other humans in that they have psychic abilities, especially to those who are a part of their cluster, although their psychic abilities are dormant until they are birthed by another sensate.

In the first episode, the August 8 cluster — Sun, Riley, Wolfgang, Kala, Will, Nomi, and Capheus — are birthed by Angelica Turing, who then kills herself.


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.


In 2018, fans successfully crowdfunded for a Sense8 mural in San Francisco, California, home to 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.[1] Unfortunately, the mural was canceled. However, it was mentioned in a Facebook post that they were working on getting things set up for murals in Portugal and Spain.[2]


While F/M is the most common category on Archive of Our Own, there is a good amount of M/M, F/F, and Multi ships. The most popular ship on AO3 is Wolfgang Bogdanow/Kala Dandekar, which is a canonical ship. Popular canonical ships also include Amanita Caplan/Nomi Marks, Riley Blue/Will Gorski, Hernando Fuentes/Lito Rodriguez, Wolfgang Bogdanow/Kala Dandekar/Rajan Rasal, and Sun Bak/Riley Blue/Wolfgang Bogdanow/Kala Dandekar/Will Gorski/Nomi Marks/Capheus Onyango/Lito Rodriguez.


Sense8 received criticism from viewers due to the desexualisation of characters of color, inclusion of copaganda and white savior narratives, and perpetuation of racist stereotypes. Additionally, they were criticized for lacking tact when it came to the sexuality of characters and how that interacted with the sex scenes.

Capheus' season 1 actor, Aml Ameen, was reportedly fired after transphobia towards Jamie Clayton, the actor for Nomi and a trans woman.[3]

Fan Comments

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).[3] 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.


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.[4]

The Problem With Sense8 by Andrea Merodeadora


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.[4]

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.[4]

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.[4]

The Problem With Sense8 by Andrea Merodeadora

Racism & 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.[5]

"Sense8" and the Failure of Global Imagination by Claire Light






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