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Sense8 (Griot Vine Approved)

Written by Greg Anderson-Elysee on Friday, August 28 2015 and posted in Columns

Sense8 (Griot Vine Approved)

How Sense8 showcases the representation needed for a satisfying portrayal of diversity and evolution of humanity...



Okay, so this article is a bit late, later than I originally planned to have it up. And that being said, I also don't get to watch as much TV as I should... that's a funny statement, actually. But yeah, most of the critically acclaimed shows are still on my personal query and I'm heavily behind on so many things. I've still only caught the first episode of Games of Thrones (I know, I knoooow) and I'm seasons behind on The Walking Dead (though not too pressed anymore with all the feedback I've been hearing about the portrayals and representations of the black characters not named Michonne).

All that said, there has been some shows that I have been glued to, three Netflix shows in particular. Daredevil, Orange is the New Black, and now Sense8. While I can laugh and praise about OITNB, I want to gush over my love for Sense8. When I say I loved Season One of Sense8, you have NO idsense8ea how much I actually loved Season One of Sense8! Ambitious, raw, flawed, sexy, slow in some places, unfiltered, uncompromising... This is the type of show that excites me as both a viewer and a griot – a storyteller! Sense8 is about a cluster of people through out the world, 8 to be in fact, who all develop a strange ability to connect and share one single mind. Due to this ability, they are able to share thoughts, experiences, feelings, conversations, and - in a very creative and fun way - physical skills and abilities by "switching" places with each other.

Sense8 comes from the mind of the Wachowski siblings and JMS of Babylon 5, who also wrote some fun Spider-Man comics where he ties Spider-Man with African folklore hero Anansi the Spider! I see you, JMS! I see you! And you have had to be living under a rock to not know the Wachowskis with their massive successful franchise of The Matrix. I myself am really only a fan of the first film and the Anamatrix, but the ambition of the franchise itself you can't sleep on. And that said, you could always count on this brother and sister pair to create some type of wild, ambitious movie. You may be in the camp to love it or hate it, but I have total respect for their craft. I'd rather see ambition and fall short than fall short due to not being ambitious enough. Cloud Atlas had to possibly be one of my all time favorite movies in recent times and it excited the hell out of me as a director, but I know plenty of people and reviewers who found it confusing and hated it while others I know also praised it and thought it was fantastic.

I've yet to see Jupiter Ascending to really judge on what I'm about to say next, but one thing that has made me want to continue to support the siblings with their films was the racial diversity within their work. You can't watch any of the Matrix trilogy, NOR Anamatrix, and say the Wachowskis didn't care about representing different people racial-wise. Sure, Neo, the Savior, was a white man (the white chosen hero trope) BUT also bear in mind they did want to cast Will Smith originally until he chose Wild Wild West over The Matrix... sighs... we can't all be perfect. Cloud Atlas was also hugely diverse to the point where it was a little controversial. We had actors playing different characters throughout the movie and often playing different races. Instead of choosing some actors to portray the proper race, you'd find a Black actor playing an Asian or White character, or an Asian actor portraying a White or Latino character. Many people found this decision to be problematic, and I can very much understand so as a fighter for diversity in comics and movies. But I did feel with the central theme of the movie, of the complexity of the passing of DNA and reincarnation and the soul, I felt as problematic as it could be, it was a perfect decision. Hate me for it, I'm gonna continue to love this film and stand by it. Hmm. It's about time I watch it again. Be right back...

(HOURS LATER...)

Sighs. Still a perfect movie. So yes, the topic at hand... Sense8!

Sense8 is categorized as an action-packed, sci-fi story. 0b070fefffd1d37ca2a28f140590d7daNow I have never seen a teaser or trailer for the show before giving it a watch. All I heard was that it had great diversity and I was already a sucker. I'm sorry, but diversity means a lot to me when it comes to my time and interest. When people say, "I don't care about color or diversity, I just want a good story"... why is it that to so many people, it's as if they're unconsciously saying that the need for diversity is asking for too much and that it would hinder the storytelling? I find it telling that people can try out so many forms of comics and movies and TV shows, but if it's something with racial or queer diversity, you hear, "I just want a good story." Like us "minorities" are incapable of entertaining you. Whatever... I digress and rant... Reading some accounts, a lot of people were disappointed with Sense8. It wasn't what they expected. It was often slow paced and the action was sparse (besides the final few episodes). There wasn't that much explosions but when there was fight scenes, holy hot damn! While I was tense watching a lot of the suspenseful moments, it was the diversity of the characters – from race to personality to sexuality... that was what initially grabbed me. But what kept me was the empathy between each of these characters. 06-sense8-preview-capheusThese clusters are seen as the next step of evolution for human kind. It could be seen as either subtle or beating you over the head (depending on what kind of reader or watcher you are to catch and analyze things). But the constant moments and scenes of each character bonding and being there for each other during tender and often scary moments, and being there for each other when they were in need... that's the evolution we need to reach as human beings. None of the characters felt lesser about each other, whether they were rich and privileged, poor, etc. Gay, straight, white, black, transsexual, whatever our religious beliefs are, the evolution of man is to have empathy and help each other rather than using our differences to hurt one another. The themes are prominent not only through the story and the abilities of the characters, but also the casting. It's why I would be more excited for another Sense8 story than X-Men who use the plight of so many "minorities" but have a hard time actually showcasing said "minorities" as important unless they're second stringers.

As a sci-fi series, it was a pretty grounded show. tv sense8 jamie1aBut it was high in concept. What should have probably have been the main plot with the hunting of the Sensate Cluster was essentially a developing side plot while the characters' story and lives were their main plots. It was a perfect way to get us to see how different they all were and how differently they lived their lives; a violent thief taking on the family mob from Berlin, a poor driver getting involved in gang warfare from Kenya, a daughter of a rich business man who is an underground fighter and takes the fall for her family's disgrace in Korea, a white trans woman who is on the run from a secret government group out to lobotomize her with help from her amazing black ride-or-die wife (probably my favorite character in the whole show!), a popular and famous Mexican actor hiding his sexuality and the effect it'd have on his career, an Indian doctor with a strong religious faith who struggles with her upcoming marriage to a man she doesn't love, a DJ from Iceland on the run from her past, and a Chicago do-gooder cop who will stop at nothing to actually uphold the law and protect and serve – and that's not counting the diverse supporting cast. All diverse in not only race but their own story and it's a joy watching each character interact with each other and comment on whatever it is they're going through while also helping them and encouraging them to persevere and keep on going and see things in a different light. CKUMRsRWUAALZa9.jpg largeIt's also fun to see a few of these characters fall in love with each other while trying to make sense of these new abilities prospering; one particular memorable moment being the orgy a majority of the Sensates experience together that lead to a closer bond but hilarious awkward reactions and moments from some of them (from some accounts I've read, you either love or hate this scene. Can you guess which camp I'm in?).

So yes, I fux with The Sense8 and with JMS and the Wachowskis! And I am more than ecstatic to hear about the renewal for Season 2 from a few weeks back! Here I am now, entertain me!

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About the Author - Greg Anderson-Elysee


Gregory Anderson-Elysee is a Brooklyn born and based filmmaker (director and editor), playwright, comic book writer, model, and part time actor. He was one of the first writers and interviewers of The Outhouse. He is the writer and creator of the upcoming book Is'nana the Were-Spider. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.


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