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I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. Thursday night, Netflix crept into my house, ate all my food, and punched a hole through my heart. Last night, Netflix cancelled Sense8.
My love for this show runs deep and proud and true. It is, objectively, the greatest television show of our time.
But instead of renewing a show with heaps of potential, Netflix has decided to fund a self-congratulatory show with no more story left to tell, a bunch of Adam Sandler films, and a second season of Miranda Sings’ Haters Back Off.
So here’s 13 reasons why this is a terrible idea. Netflix, welcome to your tape.
1. There was more story to tell
Sense8‘s season one was a slow burner. It focused on characters rather than plot because that’s what it needed to world build. But when the second season finally got going, Sense8 went hard.
And when the season finale hit us, we were all ready.
We were ready for Nomi and Amanita’s wedding, we were ready for Lito to tell Hernando about the sensates, and we were ready for them all to be in the same damn room together. It is obvious that a third season was planned — and, damn it, we deserved it.
2. It showcased original sci-fi
Sci-fi is the one genre with almost no limitation. It expands to wherever your imagination can take you. But it’s also the genre that sees itself so bogged down by reboots and sequels that in 2017 original sci-fi is practically extinct.
Sense8’s creators, the Wachowskis (for all their flaws) know this. They have always been confident to take risks, with some like The Matrix paying off, and some like Jupiter Ascending not so much.
Sense8 paid off. The show, about eight strangers around the world finding themselves in one another’s minds, was as ambitious as any film-making project ever. The concept was daunting, production surely a near nightmare, but they made it work with a film-making finesse unlike television has ever seen.
It was just damn good sci-fi.
3. It represented a diverse group of people
One thing the show was most lauded for was its representation. The cast is made to represent eight human beings chosen at random, and (though only two Asians is not statistically accurate) Sense8 tried to represent people from many walks of life.
The show features, among others, a closeted gay Mexican actor, a Kenyan bus driver who goes into politics, a South Korean woman unfairly imprisoned, a lesbian transgender woman, and a wealthy Indian biochemist navigating her identity within an arranged marriage.
As a reminder, Netflix has canceled Sense8 and The Get Down, and instead renewed The Crown (an expensive show about the British monarchy) and 13 Reasons Why (a show that grossly and voyeuristically displays gendered violence.)
When I watched Sense8’s pilot and saw Capheus, an African man with a complex story line given the room to be a hero, I knew I was going to fall hard for the show.
And, boy, did I.
4. All of its characters are likeable
Because the show’s diversity is so refreshing, so too are the characters — and it takes but one episode to fall madly in love with every sensate.
Each character is so well-written that, even in a cast of eight, there is not one core member I don’t like. Sure, favourites are natural (and being bored by Will inevitable), they are all rounded characters whose motivations and actions make sense, and never leave you screaming in frustration.
The writers also treat their characters with respect: their trauma is not sensationalised, their choices never demonised, and they aren’t thrust into unnecessary storylines — which leads me to my next point.
5. Sense8 trusts its characters
In a lot of fiction, characters and their relationships are put under unnecessary strain for the sake of drama. Think love triangles, secret pasts, or exes brought back from the dead.
Sense8 never does that.
Nomi and Amanita’s love never wavers for a second — despite how easy it would be to have Neets grow tired of the sensate drama. The Lito/Hernando/Dani trio in lesser hands would be wrought with jealousy and confusion, but here it never is.
The drama comes naturally; heartache is never forced, and emotions are never contrived.
6. Its cast is wonderful
Because diversity is so important to the show, casting directors made a point of finding a real transgender woman for Nomi, someone from South Korea for Sun, an Indian for Kala.
But that’s not all the cast is: they are also a group of actors who clearly care about the show they were making, and are invested in the people who care along with them.
Around the world with our Sense8 family. 🌏🌍🌎 pic.twitter.com/s8r0nBCeHS
— Sense8 (@sense8) May 19, 2017
We are all heartbroken.💔This show was the DEFINITION of global, equal, groundbreaking, diverse. TV at its most representational & inclusive. https://t.co/hfHxzEE54b
— Freema Agyeman (@FreemaOfficial) June 1, 2017
7. It showcases themes of love, family and humanity
Sense8 was, at its core, a show about human connection. It told of a different way to feel, to interact, to love — and how it can be clumsy, but how it’s imperative to do it all the same.
The reason the first season didn’t need that much plot is because it was enough to watch the sensates find themselves within each other. They were forced to renegotiate their own identities in the context of how it included others’, and what a joy it was to watch.
8. It explored the healthy aspects of sexuality
It would be impossible to ignore sex in a show about human connection, but Sense8 was determined to not just address it, but promote it.
A good deal of time is spent depicting sex as a natural phenomenon that need not be feared or discussed in the dark.
And sure, some shots of dildos didn’t necessarily need to be there, but I could never hate on something determined to open up the way we talk about and engage with our own sexualities.
9. It is masterfully shot
Now that we’ve established why the story is important, let’s move on to the fact each season is ten hours of pure eye candy.
You like vibrant colours? We got them. You like sweeping locations? Got that, too. Lens flares? Rich set design? Compositions that will make you weep? Sense8 is your one-stop shop, my friend.
There is no show on TV that is as visually rich or cinematically shot. And there is no show that has even an inch of editing ground over it.
10. Its editing is unparalleled
First consider the sheer amount of footage editors must bring in. Every single scene is shot multiple times in different locations with different movements and action.
Then consider that not only does the editing team have to sift through all of that footage, but they also have to put it together in a cohesive, entertaining and emotionally compelling way. And they do. Every single time.
The editors weave a story that on paper seems impossible to tell, and they do it in the most natural, easy-watching manner.
Netflix’s favourites could never. Not even once. Not even in a dream.
11. The third season would be way cheaper
[This is a spoiler for the season two finale.]
The argument that Sense8 is too expensive definitely holds weight. But The Crown (which Netflix has renewed) is the most expensive TV show ever and has cost them US$20 million more per season.
But even if we disregard that information: Sense8‘s season three was going to be infinitely cheaper, with the sensates uniting in the UK. That means fewer locations, fewer crews, shorter shoot times, and shorter post-production time. There is no way that wouldn’t take a significant chunk out of the season’s budget.
12. People want it
The outcry from Netflix users after the announcement has been loud, and a quick search of @netflix on Twitter — days after the cancellation — shows a barrage of users calling for Sense8’s return.
— Lala lolo (@Lalalol34230053) June 5, 2017
— #RenewSense8 (@mariella_rnd) June 5, 2017
— JOTA (@Jorgesinmas) June 4, 2017
I’m sure it won’t be as good as sense 8 #BringbackSense8
— Denecia (@Denecia2) June 5, 2017
— Aneli Rubio (@analurvesbway) June 5, 2017
ABC has already brought back a show from the dead this season, Netflix. There is no shame. We promise.
13. The show is hopeful
The best part of Sense8 is that it was never a show that used sadness or drama to prove its worth. It always knew that love and humanity were not only causes for pain: they also bring with them the one emotion the world has been lacking recently. Hope.
It’s easy to feel like the terror of the world is all-consuming. Trying to come to terms with increasingly hostile world leaders, climate change, and terrorism feels like a daily ritual. The horror of humanity is oftentimes overwhelming.
But Sense8 served to remind us of the good. To put the horror into perspective. To remind us what we’re actually fighting for.
And that’s more than enough reason to put the show back into production.
Edited to amend that the sensates are in the UK, not the US as originally written.