I am going to caveat this review by saying that it’s based on me watching season one of Sense8 for the second time because I loved it that much. It’s probably my favourite show of all time. I am not even going to pretend I am not obsessed and maybe biased. So really this is just an explanation of why I loved the show so much.
To be honest it’s not the easiest premise to explain without giving too much away so bear with me. Essentially eight people from very different backgrounds around the world discover that they have a psychic connection that enables them to experience each other’s thoughts and feelings but also to make use of each other’s skills and abilities. As they explore their connection they come to discover that a sinister and powerful organisation called BPO wants to get their hands on them and a race ensues both to find out why and to evade capture.
I think there are several things really that make Sense8 so special. T
he first is the characters. They are all so incredibly different and interesting. Sun (Doona Bae) is a Korean CFO and martial arts expert. Nomi (Jamie Clayton) is an American convicted hacker and a transgender lesbian. Kala (Tina Desai) is an Indian pharmacist on the eve of her wedding. Riley (Tuppence Middleton) is an Icelandic DJ with a dark past. Wolfgang (Max Riemelt) is a Berlin based member of the Russian mob. Lito is a gay Mexican movie star, living a lie. Capheus (Aml Amin) drives a matatu in Kenya and struggles to buy black market AIDS drugs for his mother. And Will (Brian J. Smith) rounds out the group as a Chicago cop who has always had strange psychic experiences. Having such a range of skills and experiences makes their interactions rich and exciting but also means that the element of being able to use each other’s abilities gives them a lot of reach and power against the daunting BPO. I wish I could pick a single one who is my favourite but it changes constantly.
It’s female characters are so powerful and kick ass. Whether it’s physical power, such as in the case of Sun, who is an absolute force to be reckoned with to brain power when it comes to Kala’s ingenious use of chemistry, they are the kind of women that we actually want to aspire to be.
It’s not only the main characters who are deeply developed though. They all have intense connections with friends, family members or partners who are just as interesting and for the most part, as well acted, which means the audience becomes just as invested in their fates and how being involved with a Sense8 affects them.
The second is how the show explores the constructs of society when it comes to relationships and the prisons human beings find and put themselves in. Whether it’s gender, sexuality, guilt, money, tribal affiliation, family responsibility or religion, Sense8 is not afraid to push the boundaries of what it means to be human and to fully embrace who we all are inside.
If that isn’t enough there’s loads of action and intrigue including some incredible fight sequences and heart stopping car chases so there’s never a moment of boredom. Oh, and it’s funny too. The episode where Lito experiences Sun’s period particularly stands out. The way the story unfolds makes it hard not to binge and even harder to know who to trust. Terrence Mann gives us a truly chilling big bad as the mysterious Whispers and some of what BPO gets up to is enough to give you nightmares.
And finally, there’s the editing. Editing is not something I usually think about when watching a TV show but the way the characters jump in and out of each others minds and bodies means that there is a never ending series of moving parts but somehow it appears absolutely seamless. If the editing were not perfect, the entire show would not work. This element is helped a lot by the unifying use of music to pull together scenes that are happening concurrently.
So if you hadn’t gathered by now, I am obsessed with Sense8 and if you give it a chance, I think you will be too.