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Why Netflix cancelling Sense8 is a step in the wrong direction


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One of the most talked about Netflix original series, Sense8, has been cancelled this month.

Created by the Wachowski sisters and J. Michael Stracyznski, it features several compelling storylines, interlinked narratives and mind-blowing visual sequences (some of a very steamy nature). It’s no wonder that fans have been devastated by this news.

There have been several hashtags and petitions aiming for Netflix to reverse their decision, but to no avail.

It seems that what has sparked so much anger from fans was the fact that said cancellation was announced on the first day of Pride month, something at the very heart of the series.

It seems, however, the choice may have been down to expenses and popularity, with each episode reportedly costing $9 million. One of the most expensive Netflix originals, Baz Lurhman's The Get Down, has also been cancelled in the last month, reportedly at $12 million an episode. Yikes.

If you’ve never watched Sense8 before, it is a complicated story to get your head around at first. Essentially, the show is about eight people who are emotionally and mentally linked to one another across the world. Through this link they can access each other’s thoughts, languages, feelings and even be with that person at their location, helping each other through difficult situations.

The show has been commended for tackling several issues, including the idea of identity and being transgender, being gay and coming out (or feeling unable to, trapped), escaping a troubled past and losing loved ones, and even the typical drama tropes revolving around love, family and friendship in sensitive and nuanced ways.

Personally,  Sense8 was very good at making you care about every single character, which when is a very hard thing to do with eight main characters. Of course, the nature of the sensate plot means that we see a lot of interlinked narratives: each character was given the same amount of screen time, each given their own personal and detailed plots, ensuring that by the end, everyone had a different favourite character within the cluster.

This is what I feel made the show resonate with so many people; being able to recognise themselves within characters and be able to get know each character in enough detail. Each character has a relatable story, even if their plot may not seem ordinary on the surface.

Take Wolfgang, for example. While you may not be embroiled in a gang war in the middle of Berlin yourself, you may be able to relate to his total disconnection and abusive relationship with his father, or his frustration at being unable to be with the woman he loves, Kala.

You may not be being hunted by someone trying to capture, experiment and wipe out your cluster, but you may be able to relate to being transgender and not being accepted by your family once you’ve made a change, like Nomi. You may feel like you’re unable to come out due to what others will think of you, like Lito.

What Sense8 offered viewers was something different. It combined several different genres with a typical Wachowski, philosophy and science-filled plotline, creating something no one had ever really seen before.

It offered an escape away from all the usual paranormal teen dramas, from the sitcoms that usually include a token gay or female character, and took the audience into a whole new world.

It’s such a shame that we won’t find out what happens to the cluster following the recently released second season, especially as it ended on a very dramatic cliff-hanger - usually the norm for shows that didn’t expect to be cancelled - and that we won’t get to see the Wachowski’s and Straczynski’s visions for these characters’ futures come to fruition.

With news that Netflix have seen the upset fans, including the petitions, and are still sticking by their cancellation decision, the Sense8 door seems to be firmly shut for the time being.

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