Netflix’s new brainchild is splashy as hell, sweeping across the internet like a color-soaked tidal wave. What can’t be determined for certain is what pulls people in to the Wachowski sibling’s extravagantly imaginative world. Is it the action-packed, unstoppable movement of the series? The unique premise? The absorbing characters? Whatever it is, this viewer feels gratified by the attention Sense8 is receiving. Now she’ll tell you why.
The concept is deceptively simple: empathy. Eight strangers, dotted around the globe, discover that for them, empathy takes on new meaning. These people literally share emotional and physical feelings, skills, visceral and intellectual experiences, and can even communicate on some primordial level.
In Sarah Hughes’ Independent.co.uk interview with co-creator J. Michael Straczynski, the inspiration behind this was identified as the idea “…that what binds us – the common coin of our shared humanity, our dreams and hopes, is stronger and more important than what divides us.” Thought its easy to get caught up in the novelty and excitement of the series, I think it’s that “shared humanity” that lies at the crux of what makes Sense8 important to the world.
Spanning seven countries and eight languages, the show defies boundaries of “foreignness” by asking: what if we could communicate with something other than language…pure empathy? What results is a sharing of cultures that is open, not divided. There is no discrimination or fear when these different people discover each other — only a joy, a curiosity, a glee in connecting.
Add to that the expanse of race, gender, and social class the series covers. Admittedly, it fails to address differences in age, but we can hope for that development in the coming season. To me, the outstanding facet of the show’s construction is the lack of any center to Sense8‘s world; there is no indication that any one country or group is the lead or star here. Every group (as they are represented by each character) is equalized by the central concept of sharing.
Therein lies the beauty of this clever and challenging series. Despite the flash, pomp and circumstance of its presentation (a fun ride in itself), Sense8 is inescapably just about people discovering “the common coin of our shared humanity”.