Just finished Season 1 of Sense8
and was blown away by how well written, acted, and produced this show truly is. It may well be the best sci-fi and/or superhero series that I've seen on television. By far the most innovative, not to mention positive.
Why didn't you tell me about this? No, wait you did. I ignored you. Hardly your fault.
Yes, it's far from perfect, the villain (Mr. Whispers) is a bit of a cliche and I keep wishing someone would just kill him off so we can go about our business. The conspiracy plot with the evil government funded corporation, I could do without. Because that's in every show to date, and hello, overdone. I actually think the show would have worked better without that.
Backing up a bit...Sense8 is a story by Lana and Lilly Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski. The Wachowski's are transgender and were the same team that did The Matrix series. J. Michael Stracznski did Babylon5, possibly the tightest sci-fi series, because he plotted it out ahead of time. Which is why this ambitious piece of art works - because Stracznski knows how to build character and multiple plot threads that connect with each other. He's a planner.
Anyhow, the story is about eight people who have the gift/curse of being able to share thoughts, abilities and bodies with each other. They can visit each other, share emotions and feelings and senses, and even occupy each other's bodies utilizing each other's skills or aiding each other, when someone needs help. There are eight of them, and they are intricately connected by spirit, heart and mind.
1, Sun - Asian Female, South Korea, Martial Artist, Business specialist, lost her mother to cancer.
2. Leto - Hispanic Male (incredibly hot), Mexico City, Top-rated action movie star/romantic hero, gay, and in the closet. Lies for a living. In love with Herandez.
3. Will - White Male - Chicago, Cop.
4. Riley - White Female - Iceland/London, DJ
5. Naomi - White Female (transgendered from male), lesbian romance with Almamita (whose black), hacker extraordinaire.
6. Kalia, Indian, Female, Mombai, India, chemist, struggling with her upcoming marriage to Raj.
7. Wolfgang, German, White Male, Gangster, fighter/killer,
8. Van Dam - Nairobi - Kenya, Black Male, driver, struggling with gansters to get medicine for sick mother.
I loved all eight characters, which is rare, and the people they loved and cared for in their lives. (The only characters I didn't like, I'm not supposed to.) Usually there's at least one main character I don't like, and that's not the case here.
Sensie are grouped in clusters, and there eight in a cluster, who can share emotions, sense each other. They are an advanced form of human. There are the humans who can no longer feel empathy or feel for others, and as a result can kill without remorse and cause pain, and those who can feel connection with others, and cannot.
This has a large caste. And jumps from various places around the globe.
There's some beautifully moving moments within it...one in which Riley is listening to her father's concert in Iceland, and it triggers a flashback of when she was born, which triggers everyone else in her cluster to remember their births. Another moment in which the German has to get up to sing karakoke in front of people and is terrified, so they all sing the song with him, giving him the support to do it. And get past the negative flashback.
In one scene...Sun must make the difficult decision on whether to take the blame for something her brother has done, which would put her in prison. She discusses this with two of her cluster, Riley and Van Damn...and both share their own versions of similarly difficult decisions.
Each problem is resolved collaboratively, people aren't alone, and the underlying message is love and kindness can still and often does triumph in a painful, nasty world run by people who are dead inside. In a way, much like the Matrix before it. Also like the Matrix, it is a scathing critique of our society.
It's hard to describe, because it really should not work, but somehow it does. Each story building and flowing into the next. Each character building and supporting the next character and informing them. Also watching it is a bit like watching five different genre television series at the same time. One a gangster movie, one a Bollywood film, one a London grunge film, one an American cop film, etc. It's amazing that it works at all. (Clearly it didn't for everyone or it would have done better.)
Also there's some great throw-away lines that resonate long after the screen grows dark...with a soundtrack that sticks with me.
And amongst the many themes...these stick out...
* Be careful with choices, if we do not make the choice, the choice will often make us.
* Worse than losing your career or all you worked for, is continuing to not let yourself be who you are, to live that lie.
Season 1? Overall rating? A solid A.
Best television series I've seen in ages. I'm told S2 is better, hard to imagine.