Known for The Matrix and Cloud Atlas, the Wachowski sibling team are professionals at constructing mind-boggling premises that make us question our entire reality. In Cloud Atlas, based on David Mitchell’s novel of the same title, their message centered on the interconnections of humans beyond race, gender, sexuality, nationality…they continue down this line of exploration as they transition from film screens to television screens with Sense8, which debuted on Netflix earlier in June.
So, for the Matrix fans and Cloud Atlas obsessed, is spending 720 hours watching the 12, 1-hour episodes worth the time investment?
If you want to feel your sense of self and reality crumbling around you (think the same feelings post-Matrix), then yes.
Sense8 follows the lives of eight “Sensates” whose minds become interconnected after the mysterious death of a woman. They can share skills, knowledge, feeling, although it is mystery how or why they were chosen to be interconnected (and what the process is behind becoming interconnected). Later in the season, a “hunter” of sorts is introduced, who poses a threat to the Sensates, seemingly because of that typical “special person violated by science that wants to pick apart their brains for evil purposes” dynamic.
Will is a hunky, Matt Damon-esque Chicago cop. Riley is a Icelandic DJ living in London and getting into trouble with the wrong crowd. Wolfgang is part of some sort of German mafia with a penchant for cracking safes. Lito is a South American steamy romance actor who thrives on the red carpet but has some love troubles at home.
Nomi is a transgender woman living in California with her partner, Amanita, (who has the most amazing hair ever!). Sun is a powerful businesswoman in Seoul, trying to managing her irresponsible brother. Capheus is a bus driver in Nairobi who is desperately trying to make money to support his mother, who is suffering from AIDS. Kala is an intelligent and beautiful woman living in India who is facing a big decision about marriage.
So, intrigued yet? This show is carried by the amazing, dynamic characters that span the globe, in the tradition of Heros. In the tradition of Lost, answers to the mysteries are not handed to viewers early on. Critics who panned the series complained that the series was too slow burning — but we don’t love the the series for unraveling the mysteries. We love it because we get to spend time with these characters as they fumble through their lives, trying desperately to figure out if they are going insane or what these new, startling connections to the other Sensates mean.
The series brings up questions of self — what contributes to our identity and sense of self? Are we truly individuals, or all under influenced by collective consciousnesses? What happens when a persons experience of living life from one brain is suddenly shifted, and now they have 7 other brains (or consciousnesses, or identities, or whatever) occupying the same space? Sense8 tackles some seriously deep questions while still maintaining our interest through the daily lives of the characters as they navigate their new realities.
There is adventure, action, love, and drama all encompassed in the series. Fans of Lost, Heros, and other character-based series will fall for Sense — just make sure you have a long afternoon to spend watching the episodes, because it is easy to get hooked! Sit back, don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense at first, and enjoy the show.