I have a new all-time favorite science fiction series.
Snese8, which I binge watched over the last week-and-a-half on Netflix, has ousted Babylon 5 from the coveted #1 spot that it held in my heart for over 15 years. J. Michael Straczynski had a hand in both, and there are some similarities in what I love about each, though they are entirely different concepts.
What is Sense8?
First and foremost, Sense8 is a character story. And you all know by now that I am a character girl. In fact, for much of the series the speculative element (the scifi or otherworldly component for those who are not familiar with the lingo) took a backseat to the development of characters and connections.
The premise is not simple, but let me do my best: Eight unique individuals from around the world are suddenly reborn into a cluster. They can share one another’s thoughts, feelings, and memories. They can “visit” with one another (mentally). They can even share one another’s bodies and in so doing share skills.
So there are 8 main characters?
Yes, and dozens of important secondary characters! When I first read about the concept for this show I didn’t know how they could pull it off. How would I keep the characters straight? And how would television portray a largely mental connection?
With these doubts in my mind, I watched the first episode. And do you know what? By the end of the first episode, I didn’t know all their names, but I knew all 8 characters and a little something about them. There aren’t any two who are remotely alike. The creators used a bit of a cheat at first — something I’m familiar with from writing fiction. When you want to introduce a large number of characters at first, you find one important, distinctive characteristic to start from and build upon that. You can even start with something stereotypical, although to avoid cliches you need to build on that. And they did!
It is now important to give some credit to Netflix, the one place a show like this could have possibly happened. The show is accused (somewhat accurately) of having a slow pace. Well, there are 8 different primary viewpoints!
But let’s face it, if this show had needed to string viewers along from week to week, it never would have worked. This show is the epitome of what binge watching is for. In fact, if you don’t have time to finish it within the next 2-3 weeks, don’t start watching! Ideally, you could watch it in a weekend, but some of us have jobs and kids and things. 🙂
This isn’t a show you can judge on any single episode. This season was chapter 1 — forming connections. By the end of the first season I know all 8 characters extremely well and I care deeply about their problems. And finally, by the end of season 1, the sense8 are working together, giving us a sense for what it means to be a sense8 cluster.
I told you — it’s not a simple concept. It wasn’t simple for these characters to suddenly belong to a cluster either. It took them time to be fully reborn and understand what they are (although there are still some questions there).
Twelve episodes. One long chapter. But they’re all right there, waiting for you.
Much like HBO, there are no rules regarding content on Netflix. So be prepared to see things you never imagined you’d see on TV. Aside from cursing and violence (which are sadly mainstream), there is sex, nudity (as in full frontal female AND male — kudos for being fair!), and other intimate details you might not have expected.
To be fair to the show, they are presenting the concept that a group of 8 people have somehow just become like one, sharing even the most intimate and private moments. Believe me, this came across!
Watch this show!
What are you waiting for? If you have kids, make sure they’re asleep, if you don’t, just go watch it!