This past week I finally got to watch the Netflix show Sense8. I was hesitant to watch it at first because, though the premise of the show was intriguing, I hadn’t heard what the show was actually about. True to Netflix fashion, the brief tag attached to the show didn’t help make its case; but regardless to my lack of knowledge of the show, I knew, for I am a sucker for shows I can absolutely binge through, I would eventually come to watch it. And I’m happy that I did, for as I am a sucker for binging shows, so too am I a sucker for Wachowski projects.
As many others, the Wachowskis absolutely blew me out of the water with the Matrix, and I’ve been hooked every since. Originally, I had no idea that Sense8 was their brain child, so when the opening credits sprawled across the screen with their name, I was hooked . Now, I will be the first to admit that I’m the kind of guy who tries to find the silver lining in everything, even the sequels to the Matrix, much to the chagrin of other film enthusiasts. As a result, I’ve also really enjoyed other Wachowski projects that have been panned or failed at the box office. I loved Jupiter Ascending; yeah, that’s right, I said it. That shit was explorative and fun. However, I saw what people disliked about it as well.
Like most Wachowski projects, Jupiter Ascending’s depth and scope was large, enormous, really. So have been all of their works, Sense8 being no different, which in turn creates a problem with their films. When I’m explaining to people how to create a story, I say a fully realized story universe is about |____________________________________________________________________________| this big.
What is shown in novels, films, comics, or whatever medium you prefer is about |_________________________________’__________________________________________| this big. The stories that we enjoy are just fragments in time that we are privy to view. There’s a story before the story and there’s a story after the story, ad infinitum.
When the Wachowskis made Jupiter Ascending, they put |____________________________”’_____________________________________________| this much into the movie. For the average movie goer, that’s way too much information. People’s suspension of disbelief couldn’t get established despite having the protagonist of the film also be quite clueless to Jupiter Ascending’s universe. It was like the audience was having a culture shock towards the characters in the movie. It was jarring for most. As a result, the Wachowskis got panned by critics. In fact, taking a look at the Wachowski films that haven’t been received well, they all pretty much suffer from an information overload. The original Matrix film hit the perfect balance of revealing a world not like our own, but its sequels tried to show you too much and people still talk about how they were disappointed by those movies. There was just too much to tell in just a couple of 2-3 hour films. That’s where Sense8 really shines.
With HBO, AMC, Showcase, Netflix, and others producing really stellar dramas, the TV show medium has really started to form a home for the larger than life and eccentric Wachowski projects. What was too much information to cram into 2-3 hours can really flourish in 12-24 hours. Sense8 had some very minor pacing issues, but overall the show really reflects the Wachowski’s talents. The characters are compelling, the drama is griping, the concept is extravagant, and they even manage to brilliantly integrate issues regarding feminism and the LGBT community. The show is shot across the world in the actual locations of each character for authenticity and the dilemmas each character faces seem to accurately reflect realistic issues for each of their cultures. Wrapping all those threads together requires a hell of a mind and luckily the Wachowskis have two to tackle the project.
Saying all that, I don’t think the show is a masterpiece yet, but I do think it had an amazing first season and I’m excited for the second, which was recently approved. My hope is that this show is given its time to shine, but that it has a definitive end as well. And hopefully, if Sense8 goes as well as it has been, it will mean that the Wachowskis keep producing longer running dramas. It definitely seems like their suited for it.