Does Netflix’s Sense8 Measure Up?

If you have Netflix you won't be let down by Sense8. Photo Courtesy: Freemanukem
If you have Netflix you won’t be let down by Sense8. Photo Courtesy: Freemanukem

By Connor Risenhoover

What is humanity, where are we going, and what are the threads that connect us? Netflix’s new original series Sense8 attempts to answer these deep philosophical questions that are inherent to the condition of human life.

The show’s premise focuses on eight completely unique individuals whose consciousness and senses are becoming merged. They are what the show calls sensates, the next step in the evolution of humanity.

The show was created by former Spiderman writer J. Michael Straczynski and written by himself and Andy and Lana Wachowski of Matrix fame.

The creative fingerprints of each of these people can be felt on the product as a whole. It has the feel of a comic book premise as well as the out there mind bending that earned the Matrix trilogy so much praise.

Each of the main characters is drastically different from each other. They include a Chicago cop, a London DJ, a transgendered hacktivist, closeted Mexican action film star, a Korean business woman, a Nairobi bus driver obsessed with Jean-Claude Van Damme, a German burglar, and an Indian pharmacist.

These characters slowly begin to experience each other’s lives as they become intertwined as a group of sensates. Their differences help to establish who they are and they each feel very different and unique from the others.

This is where the show is at its most interesting, when it is doing a character study and looking at the completely different struggles, religions, and lives lived by each. It is fascinating to watch as the show moves from continent to continent seamlessly through each episode to shift the spotlight from one character to another.

About halfway through the season, each character gains the ability to enter the consciousness of another and appear to them. This allows for people who would never have any contact with each other to share experiences and advice based on their own history and living conditions.

The characters are the strongest part of the show and discovering their motivations, hopes, and desires feels real and is the most rewarding and sometimes heartbreaking moment provided.

The overarching plot of bad men hunting the sensates is forgettable and at its worst a minor annoyance that must be navigated through to watch the characters use each other to deal with the immediate problems that they face daily. It feels convoluted and make this character study of humanity feel too much like an espionage film.

Another problem is that the show really doesn’t get going until the fourth or fith episode which is to its detriment. It’s hard for people to devote four hours to decide if they like it or not.

The slow pacing and confusing story have already put many people off of this Netflix offering and that is too bad. It is a very interesting character driven look at the humanity that connects each of us regardless of how different we may be.

Though it appears that it will not be receiving the praise of House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, or even Arrested Development, Sense8 is a solid Netflix offering that should be given a chance.