Should You And Eight Strangers Watch Sense8?
Cops and DJs and Daryl Hannah, oh my!
What Is This Thing
In the new sci-fi series from The Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski, eight disparate strangers from across the globe share a mysterious vision that connects them in mysterious ways.
When Is It On?
Netflix released the entire season on June 5.
Why Was It Made Now?
The Wachowskis are on probation from making movies after releasing back-to-back commercial failures (Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending). J. Michael Straczynski is a sci-fi legend who hasn't worked on a show in eleven years. The Wachowskis' love of interlocking narrative pairs quite nicely with Straczynski's meticulous plotting as seen in Babylon 5, and his many years as a comic writer, and since all are creators with grand visions and hard-to-spell last names, naturally they had to collaborate.
What's Its Pedigree?
In addition to the above-named flops, the Wachowskis directed The Matrix series. J. Michael Straczynski created and wrote most of Babylon 5, a very influential show in terms of storytelling and structure. Since then, he's been focusing his time on writing comics and screenplays.
Naveen Andrews and Daryl Hannah are the most well known in the cast, while Tuppence Middleton and Brian J. Smith will cause you to open up IMBD and go, "Oh, they were in [project you know]." Wachowski muse Bae Doona returns for her third collaboration with the directors.
This show is almost agressively confusing. Daryl Hannah opens the series wailing in pain on a mattress in an abandoned cathedral, then having a touching conversation with Naveen Andrews, then another guy who is a villain, maybe, who is both behind her and walking toward her. And also Naveen Andrews isn't there. But he is. But not really. Then Hannah's character shoots herself in the head. AND THIS IS THE COLD OPEN. I applaud the line in the sand drawn so early in the series. This is going to be a weird-ass show that doesn't make any sense: join us, or piss off.
The remainder of the pilot acts as an introduction to the "8" while also introducing the shared experiences between them. So far, all of the characters have collective migraines and can hear sounds from the other characters' surroundings.
Gorski is a hot cop from Chicago whose opening scene features him shirtless. If I'm going to be confused while watching a show, I'm going to need some man candy to keep me going.
Riley is a DJ in London who likes to smoke meth and listen to The Antlers.
Nomi is a trans blogger who is a little too obsessed with Pride. Dear Sense8, gay people do not tell each other "Happy Pride" over and over. Everyone knows Pride was invented by Bud Light to get gay people to drink their shitty beer.
Sun is a Korean businesswoman facing company troubles. There wasn't much for her plot in the pilot, but she did get hallucinate a chicken, so that's pretty cool, I guess.
Lito is a Mexican actor with a deep, dark secret that is affecting his ability to perform.
Kala is an Indian pharmacist who is being pressured into marrying one of the owners of the company at which she works.
Wolfgang, the character I kept forgetting existed between the times he showed up on screen, is a bank robber in Germany who is really into singing competitions.
And finally, Capheus is the just the best. He owns a struggling bus called Van Damn, named after Jean-Claude, and spends all of his down time taking care of his sick mother in Nairobi.
Sense8 is unnecessarily dense, The show needs to take a cue from United States Of Tara and Orphan Black or even Orange Is The New Black and trickle the characters out. Or if the show insists on showing every character from the get go, at least make better use of the limited screen time. Sun, Lito, Kala, and Capheus get shafted while we're treated to a solid fifteen minutes of Wolfgang meticulously breaking into a safe. Safe cracking is second only to computer hacking as the most boring activity anyone can ever do on screen. Show me more of the feud between Van Damn and Bat Van!
For the most part, the pilot is just boring. After a ballsy opening that honestly made me want to watch more just to figure out what the hell was happening, I fell asleep about twenty minutes in, and about twenty minutes after waking up, I needed to pause and take a shower so that I wouldn't fall back asleep. The only interesting characters were the ones all but ignored. According to my friend Wikipedia, where I read some synopses of upcoming episodes, there's so much more that could have been revealed Lito and Nomi that would have been way more interesting than watching Gorski spend forever rescuing a gunshot victim.
Like most Wachowski projects after 1999, Sense8 is a bit of a mess, and not in a train wreck sort of way. I admire the scope of the project, but it just goes to show that a high concept does not a good show make.