Should You Watch Sense8? The Answer’s About as Clear as This Show’s Plot

For a while I avoided watching Sense8. It’s a show created by a trans woman and her brother and another guy; it features a really diverse cast of mostly people of color; and it even has a lesbian couple made up of a trans woman and a black cis woman (Jamie Clayton and Freema Agyeman). It should’ve had me hook, line and sinker. But that trans woman who created it and wrote it, Lana Wachowski, comes with a lot of baggage, and by baggage, I mean “racist behaviors and actions.”

Before we talk about the actual show, I do want to spend some time talking about why I was initially reluctant to watch it. Like I said, Lana Wachowski (and her brother) have done some pretty racist things in the past. First, when they made their epic sci-fi film Cloud Atlas, where each actor plays multiple roles throughout time and space, they made the shockingly racist decision to use makeup to put actors Jim Sturgess and Hugo Weaving in yellowface. Seriously, it’s painful to look at pictures of the makeup from this movie. I don’t know how they thought it was okay.

Then, at this year’s Trans 100 event, Lana was the keynote speaker. Her speech started on a rocky foot when she talked about how, when filming this very show, she was in India and people stared at her hair (which is a brightly-colored version of dread locks). Trans POC attending the event started to get uncomfortable at this point. It got even worse when Wachowski tried to equate gender and race, and then started to seemingly blame Black Americans for holding back the rights of trans people. This pattern of actions made me reluctant to get too excited for this show.

So, if you know about those things and decide to not watch Sense8, I’m not gonna blame you. If you did watch it and want to talk about it, Aja, Gabby and I had an awful lot of feelings that we want to share with you.

There Will Be Lots of Spoilers


Things We Liked

Mey

So, Sense8 is basically a show about eight strangers — a white cop from Chicago named Will, a white lesbian trans woman/former hacker from San Francisco named Nomi, a Korean martial artist and daughter of a super powerful businessman named Sun, a Kenyan bus driver named Capheus, an Indian pharmacist and bride-to-be named Kala, a German safecracker named Wolfgang, an Icelandic DJ named Riley and a Mexican actor named Lito — who all start to develop a psychic connection. They start to get hunted down by this mysterious guy named Whispers who seems to have lots of money and lots of international power and who really doesn’t like the Sensates (that’s what they’re called). I think that was the plot.

The dialogue in this scene is literally "She said no problem using her back entrance."

The dialogue in this scene is literally “She said no problem using her back entrance.”

It was nice seeing such a diverse cast. Like, it wasn’t just one character of each race or ethnicity, they each had supporting casts around them. I especially loved Lito’s supporting cast and definitely Nomi’s. I even spotted trans actor D-Lo, an activist and writer who played a friend of Nomi’s who helped them escape.

Honestly, there are some good, and even great moments. Right away we see Nomi and Amanita having sex, I don’t think I have to tell you how revolutionary it is to show an interracial lesbian couple, where one of the women is trans, fucking on a mainstream TV show. A couple other early scenes with Nomi are pretty powerful as well. When Amanita defends her at Pride in the flashback scene and when she gives her own speech about her feelings about Pride, I was genuinely moved.

Ugh, look at these TERFs trying to ruin a great afternoon.

Ugh, look at these TERFs trying to ruin a great afternoon.

Gabby

The love thing between Nomi and Amanita hooked me right away. Like it’s already been stated above how revolutionary it is to see their love on screen, but let’s add to that for a minute. I hear so many lesbians, not in my Autostraddle groups, but like just out in the world, talking about how they’d never be able to date or love a trans woman. They talk about trans women with the same disregard and hatefulness that has generally been reserved for bisexual women. All of it is gross. And this opening sex scene between Nomi and Amanita was like a huge beautiful fuck you to all those hate-filled feelings and ideas about bodies and who’s allowed to be a lesbian and who’s allowed to be a woman, you know? And they love each other. It wasn’t just some curious, fetish-baiting fuck session. They love each other and I believe them. So I kept watching and you should start.

sense8-MARTHA

I wasn’t really sure what the rules were for what my screengrab could show from this scene, so this is what I went with. (Ed note: Nailed it! I even brightened it up for you!)

Mey

Another highlight was watching Sun kick some serious ass, and just be really awesome in general. I did like the show most of the time when she was on screen. I was already a big fan of Doona Bae, the actress who played her, from the awesome Korean Monster Movie The Host, so it was fun watching her be the most kickass character on this show.

Aja

Sun was one of the most perfect depictions of a tough, feminine fighter I think I’ve ever seen. Her performance refuses to even acknowledge the existence of a “fighting fuck toy” trope — she’s too incredibly intelligent, beautiful and lethal, and while I’d have loved for the show to do more than hint at her complexity, there’s no question it exists. On a material note, Sun’s baller shower is baller. I want her Seoul apartment.

Look at how cool Sun is.

Look at how cool Sun is.

Gabby

Also, can we give a shout to Capheus. He’s driving a van around Nairobi to stack up funds for his mom’s HIV meds. He’s got the best damn smile. Also, his van is called the Van Damme, as in Jean-Claude Van Damme, who sucks as a person but made the most amazing/ridiculous action movies in the ’90s. Capheus’ accidental rise to a super hero in his village is one of the best moments in this series. Like he’s such a dreamboat, I’d marry him and help him drive his Van Damme Van.

No one messes with the Van Damn or Capheus.

No one messes with the Van Damn or Capheus.

AND Lito’s telenovela action save-the-girl scene was my favorite. I know, I know. It’s against my feminism to like anything about this scene but it was still so fun. I’d watch his telenovela about being a gay action hero with a sexy nerd boyfriend and a live-in beard. I like when bad guys get their asses kicked, y’all.

Mey

I also kinda loved Daniela, even though I know her character and storyline is full of problems. She was pretty much the only part of the show that made me laugh, and the only character I really cared about. She was just so fun and weird and seemed like she would be cool to hang out with, even if she would fetishizie me. Lito and his boyfriend were pretty cool too. Maybe we should’ve just watched a telenovela instead of watching this?

Aja

Dani is a total babe, and she came in swinging hilariously and hot, with no regard for anything beyond her own immediate desires, and then they turned her character into a punching bag with the word martyr scrawled across it in Sharpie. Hernando is a dreamboat. He’s just a dreamy gay dude with healthy boundaries and positive attributes, like making homemade ceviche and having a conscience and digging cool art. He made me want to go to Mexico City and be his friend, and then they turned his character into one of these things: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. While I’ll never not love Lito’s bizarre pre-filming tics like going POP! POP! POP! or grinding sharp-cornered movie trailer cabinetry (which looks…painful), Dani and Hernando were highly enjoyable characters who didn’t need him, despite the show desperately trying to convince us otherwise.

Look at this cute, terrific, beautiful, amazing chosen family.

Look at this cute, terrific, beautiful, amazing, weird gay/beard family.

Riley’s dad, Gunnar, was a lovely character. You can tell he’s an IRL musician, but in a good way. (I didn’t know but had a feeling after watching; then, looked it up).

Gabby

Sense8 is just so damn cool to watch. I’m not a sci-fi geek like Star Trek and Star Wars. I’m a sci-fi geek like The 5th Element and District 9 so Sense 8 hits me where I like to be hit, ya know? It’s trippy. These characters are shifting into each other’s dimensions and lives. There’s a huge mystery surrounding what’s happening to them and who they are; I like that stuff. Keeps me interested. It’s like Orphan Black but with a diverse cast, more sex, and a bigger budget.

Mey

I say that I love sci-fi, but I think it’s really more that I love sci-fi movies, comic books and books. I like the CW’s The Flash and iZombie shows, and I loved Agent Carter, but other than that I’m not sure if I’ve ever really gotten into a sci-fi TV show? So I think that was something I struggled with. Like, there were moments that I liked, and some parts where I was into it, but also lots of times when I just struggled to pay attention. I think I would have liked it better as a movie or trilogy of movies.

Also, did you catch Geena Rocero in the opening credits?

Yay! Geena Rocero!

Yay! Geena Rocero!

Aja

I’d feel okay saying that I’m a sci-fi lite kind of gal when it comes to television; I like The Walking Dead and Twin Peaks, and I definitely enjoyed Lost, but I can’t get into a thing like Heroes, True Blood, or Doctor Who. Aside from more or less renaming telepathy linking an international ensemble cast by birth date, I can’t say Sense8 had any real compelling point (let alone something original to say in that genre), but what they did incredibly well was make it easy for the audience to bounce around with the Sensates in a believable way. That can’t have been easy. The most incongruous aspect of the show wasn’t being jarred by our characters switching up time zones and languages, it was the story lines they’d been given to work with, which brings us to…


Things We Didn’t Like

Mey

Let’s see which stereotypical characters we can check off: Korean martial artist? Check. Kenyan woman with AIDS? Check. Mexican drug lord (that’s what Dani was implying her father is, right?)? Check. Indian woman in an arranged marriage? Check. (Aja: Manic pixie dream girl with substance abuse issues? Check. White savior cop? Check.) Just having a diverse cast isn’t enough, you need to have well-thought out and well-written characters. The stereotypical nature of all these characters almost cancels out their diversity.

I also felt like some of the scenes with Nomi were a little cheap. Of course I’m going to cry when her mom keeps on calling her by her birth name, but that doesn’t mean you earned those tears. Watching those scenes reminded me of watching Glee’s episode “Rumour Has It” and crying for twenty minutes when Finn outs Santana. I was angry that a show like this made me cry so much.

Ugh, Nomi's mom was the worst.

Ugh, Nomi’s mom was the worst.

I had a really hard time getting invested in most of these characters. I think a lot of that was because of the script, which I felt was stereotypical, generic and had weak dialogue. I even found it hard to get invested in Nomi and Amanita, and that’s a lesbian trans woman and a black lesbian played by Freema Agyemon, my favorite Doctor Who actor!

Aja

I’m always going to be unreasonably hard on San Francisco-based characters, and I wanted to be impressed with this couple for obvious reasons but it was hard to wipe the WTF?! off my face after their amazing hospital escape scene. Also their loft situation felt more Oakland than SF to me, and Riese thought it’d cost at least $5K/mo. – I’m gonna bet it’s worth almost double that! With hacktivist bank like that, they could’ve at least used their superpowers to keep the Lex open.

Being a former hacktivist pays for a really nice apartment where you can have lesbian sex and make inspirational vlogs.

Being a former hacktivist pays for a really nice apartment where you can have lesbian sex and make inspirational vlogs.

Mey

I felt like the violence was weirdly gratuitously graphic? Like, there wasn’t enough enough of it to make it expected, but when it was graphic, it was really graphic. That bothered me. I really didn’t go into this show expecting to see arms get chopped off right on screen, but they went for it. Like, I loved Sun and liked Capheus a lot, but that scene where he was fighting those people with the machete really was too much for me.

Aja

Yes. This. I’m so turned off by: heist violence, macho violence, save-the-girl violence, drug violence, gang violence, and especially combinations of three or more of those things and THEY HAPPEN CONSTANTLY IN SENSE8.

Mey

Also I think if you’re not into the Wachowski’s style of philosophy-heavy and transhumanist filmmaking, you’re not going to like this. This reminded me a lot of Jupiter Ascending (which I did kind of love) and The Matrix trilogy in that it was about people who think they’re normal humans but are really so much more and meant for so much more and it’s all about the greater connectivity of humanity and the universe and all that. In the end, watching this show was sort of like listening to one of those dudes who gets a philosophy degree and then just tries to tell you all their “radical, mind-blowing ideas” at a party.

Aja

That’s the perfect way to describe it. Like that dude, or the kind of dude whose main beef with Mad Max: Fury Road is that “they never eat.” Your brain has to turn off because it’s just met a person who loves the sound of their own voice far more than they love authentic, shared human interaction. It does feel a bit like someone sat around thinking, “How cool would it be if I could have multinational telepathic group sex with all my closest friends and we’d never have to talk about our daddy issues (seriously over half the characters have daddy issues) because we just read each others’ minds,” and then they make the mind-being-blown sound out loud like in a cell phone commercial. I’m cool, and would actually rather have gone to see Mad Max: Fury Road five more times for a grand total of nine viewings than have sat through Sense8.

Gabby

The white savior stuff gets a little out of control. But there’s not much I didn’t like. I’m in agreement with most of what everyone has said so far.


Things We Sorta Liked/Sorta Didn’t Like

Mey

There was way more crowning than I was prepared for, but maybe that’s radical for a TV show?

Aja

That was such a genuinely lovely sequence, but I don’t know that it needed all that crowning. I’m good with crowning scenes through 2025 now. These things were more baffling than positive or negative: The singalong in episode four. WHAT IN THE WORLD. (I really hope there’s a screengrab for this!). That the sensate orgy is my wife’s Achilles heel for cheating, apparently. “Maybe because they’re still where they are it’s not that big a deal.” Huh.

This part of the show wasn't weird at all.

This part of the show wasn’t weird at all.

Mey

I was not feeling that orgy. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like if I was having sex with my girlfriend and all of the sudden I was having sex with four men, I would freak out, not get more into it. But then again, that’s never happened to me, so maybe I don’t know how I would react.

All I'm saying is that the change from having sex with one woman to this would be a little jarring, that's all.

All I’m saying is that the change from having sex with one woman to this would be a little jarring, that’s all.

Gabby

The orgy was bomb. The fight scenes are bomb. I think we need to watch this show as a group so I can pull you all into my lovefest.


Overall, even if Aja and I didn’t exactly love it and just wanted to start watching the new season of Orange is the New Black, all three of us agree that this does signal some good things for the future of TV when it comes to representation. So, what did you like, what did you hate, what did you sort of like and how did you feel about that orgy?

Mey Valdivia Rude is a bisexual Latina trans woman living in Los Angeles. She's a writer, comic consultant and a trans activist. She's a bruja, a femme, a pop princess and she loves comic books, witches, dinosaurs and crying. She has a cat named Sawyer and a very successful twitter.

Mey has written 574 articles for us.

123 Comments

  1. I was very glad I listened to the internet and stuck with this show despite the slow start, because I did wind up caring deeply about almost all of the characters, in part because I got to know them so well.

    I loved Nomi and Amanita as a loving, committed, communicating couple stuck in a crazy sci-fi plot. Nomi was probably my favorite character, and the first trans character I’ve seen on screen who actually reminded me of the trans women I’ve known and dated. I’ve seen a lot of shows where transwomen are high femme and the camera seems to fetishize their femininity, or things like that Felicity Huffman disaster where cis actors’ interpretative choices feel disrespectful; I think the actress was phenomenal and her actually being trans made a big difference.

    The scene in which many character of many backgrounds came together to help Nomi escape the bad guys felt huge to me emotionally–modeling for all of us the idea that trans women are valuable and deserve to be protected. And despite some clunky exposition in the hospital scene, I liked that while being trans was part of who Nomi was, her actual plot was not about transition, but about escaping and outwitting a cabal of creepy sci-fi villains, and that she had a lot of agency in that story during the second half of the series.

    I loved Amanita but wanted to see more of her. Freema Ageyman was in the main credits, while Lito’s supporting cast wasn’t….maybe because she’s a higher-profile actor, but it supports the fan theory that Amanita will turn out to be Capheus’s long-lost sister next season.

    I also loved Capheus (my 2nd favorite, though I hated how violent his plot was) & Sun & Lito & despite my preconceptions Will, because the show poked fun of him as often as he got to be the white savior. And while I didn’t like how much time Riley spent being damseled eye candy, toward the end I started to realize that she had a compelling story about depression and mental illness that I could really identify with when the show didn’t get in her way.

    I also liked Kala’s story, precisely because she’s not in an arranged marriage–it’s a “love match” with a lot of social expectation piled onto it. I thought it showed how subtle social pressure could be more powerful than overt controls. And the actress was wonderful at wringing comedy out of her scenes. That said, the powerful secular/atheist businessmen threatening the Hindu temple seemed like an American projection and nothing to do with contemporary India.

    Likewise as a USian I identify strongly with the overt sexism Sun faced within her family, but I get that putting that on a Korean character plays to stereotypes.

    But I think you are completely right about the violence in the show, which was jarring and over-the-top, and I don’t think it always managed to balance the strengths and weaknesses of its 8 plots. I’m glad I saw it, but I wished it could be better in various ways.

    • I hadn’t heard that fan theory about Amanita being Capheus’s sister. I had assumed that she was likely still in Africa but I suppose she could have been adopted out to the states. That does happen a lot. Still Amanita and Capheus don’t look like they could be more than one or two years apart while I believe he said he was 8 when she was born. It would be good though to connect her to the greater plot and bring the sensates closer together. So far the only ones who have actually met in person are Will and Riley.

    • YES I have been wiggling with excitement about that Nomi escape scene all night. Something about everybody showing up to help the trans woman made me feel REAL GOOD in a way I didn’t know I was missing.

  2. Finally, an article about this show because I finished watching it and needed somebody to talk to about it. I was really reluctant to watch it as well because of Lana Wachowski. My views still haven’t changed about her but I finished OITNB so I decided to go ahead and give the show a chance. I actually ended up really liking it.

    You guys have a very good list of valid pros and cons. I had similar issues but would still recommend giving it a try for those that haven’t yet.

    The two biggest reasons for that IMO are the Nomi/Amanita and Lito/Hernando storylines. I found myself the most emotionally invested in those characters. And I thought all the actors did a great job with their characters. Martha from Doctor Who is playing a lesbian yall. Dreams do come true! And Jamie Clayton is just the cutest.

    I don’t think I have ever seen a sex scene with a trans character like that EVER in a tv show. I’ve never seen a trans character be presented as desirable in that way let alone that it was a trans lesbian having sex with another woman. It was amazing. Nomi and Amanita have sex two other times in the season. The second was during the infamous orgy scene that I know is getting a lot of mixed reviews. The third one however was just as beautiful as the first one. It was also refreshing for once to see a lesbian couple on tv where their biggest dramas weren’t about cheating or a baby or death, etc. Nomi and Amanita(and Lito/Hernando to a lesser extent) were presented as having pretty much the most emotionally healthy relationship I’ve seen on tv in a long time. Amanita was pretty much ride or die for Nomi from jump. I do think her character needs to be fleshed out more but since she’s not a Sensate it made sense that she, along with the other characters in the Sensates lives, wasn’t as developed yet.

    My biggest complaint about the show were some of the stereotypical racial things that definitely made me cringe. But that they don’t really do a good job explaining what all the Sensates can do, why the villian(who wasn’t menacing at all IMO) is so determined to eliminate them, what exactly Naveen Andrews is to them, and what the general rules are in the universe of the show

    Overall, I would give the show a 7.5/8 out of 10. I plan on rewatching it again to catch the things I missed.

  3. I watched it. I liked it. You’re right in most points here – there’s a lot not to like, but I do think there’s a lot to like too. Amanita and Nomi are the happiest couple and I really loved how their relationship was fleshed out – on the note of a cis woman dating a trans woman, at one point Amanita said ‘I never thought I’d fall for someone like you but after that time in the that tiny bathroom’ or something of the sort, I can’t remember what exactly, I thought she was referring to never thinking she’d date someone trans, but changing her views after meeting her. I thought it felt very real (though the next feel lines were very cheesy). Correct me if I’m wrong, though.

    Besides them, I agree that it was sometimes stereotypical, but I read somewhere about each story representing ‘traditional’ movie genres/tropes from each place, like the American cop or the German criminal or the Korean ‘my father doesn’t appreciate my merits’, and it’s probably clearest with the Mexican telenovela. That doesn’t excuse it, of course, but if it’s true I do think it sheds a different light on their intentions.

    My favourite stories besides Nomi were Sun and Lito, and Wolfgang is my very very guilty pleasure. I loved when they all worked together, and the last shot was absolutely beautiful. Overall, if you think you’re up for the rollercoasters, I’d say watch it, but beware of the trigger warnings too (dissociation, transphobia, homophobia, self harm mentions, lots and lots of blood, and probably more I can’t remember now).

    • That’s so interesting re: “I read somewhere about each story representing ‘traditional’ movie genres/tropes from each place” — please share here if you come across it again by chance!

  4. Oh, I forgot to talk about that Orgy scene. That seems like it was done for pure shock value and to have a talking point to promote the show in a “Look at us, aren’t we shocking?!!” kind of way. I wasn’t mad about it the way a lot of people seem to be but I wasn’t in love with it either. I think I might have been more pissed about it if it were presented as all of these people getting together and deciding to have an orgy but I think the point of it was to show that the Sensates can feel literally everything the others are feeling including sexual relations. It was just done in a really clunky way.

    I know alot of people have a problem with that scene specifically because it once again places men between two lesbian characters. I mean those lesbian characters were having sex with two gay men who were having sex with two straight men. But I get why that pisses some off. It normally would have had me angry too but for some reason it didn’t. Mostly because the show never once tried to spin it afterwards to make us question whether any of these characters were attracted to each other or questioning their sexuality. They all just went on like nothing happened and it was only ever brought up again the series when Lito meets Will for the first time and is like “Yeah, we had sex together remember”. It was just really weird because Hernando and Amanita were also in those orgy scenes as well but they are not Sensates so to them they were just having sex with their partners like they normally do. They weren’t seeing everyone else. So yeah, it was shot really in a really confusing way. Lol.

    • It didn’t even occur to me that that scene could be read that way (as in placing men among lesbians) because I thought it was fairly obvious that it was just a way of showing how the sensates were connected. I mean, Will and Wolfgang are fairly certainly straight, yet they were also there, and it was implied that Capheus was also affected. I think that those people were included because Lito and Nomi are in a relationship, they needed to establish Wolfgang as a sexual person who also fantasises about Kala, and Will just… not to leave him out, I guess? To make the joke later on in the show? So he’s a comic relief for being so bothered? Who knows. Anyway, I get that it might have been offensive in a way, but I, personally, wasn’t offended.

      • I agree. I wasn’t offended either but I’ve read that particular criticism of that scene elsewhere so I decided to bring it up to see what others thought of it. I just took it as them establishing that all the sensates can share sexual experiences without actually being with each other. My only complaint about it was that I thought it was shot weirdly. That was about it really. It was still a pretty hot scene though.

    • I agree it was a confusing scene. I didn’t know what to think of it, partially because of the confusion. I get it was to show they all feel something when sex is going on, but it could have been better shown.

    • I wasn’t offended because they’ve pretty much established that the sensates are the same person, or extensions of the same person. It was almost like they were having sex with themself. Like the older sensate woman told Riley that it was the ultimate narcissistim to fall for a member of your cluster, because you were essentially falling for yourself.

    • I actually liked the orgy because it goes along the lines of something I appreciated about the series, which is that all of the sensates become better, more empathetic people because they now know what it’s like to be trans, or to be queer, or to be incarcerated, or to live amongst poverty. Like Will is a white cis het cop from Chicago, but suddenly he literally knows what it feels like to be Nomi, which totally expands his horizons.

      • This! Watching Will have all the Nomi feels just be FEELS. Not Trans feels or queermo feels, just FEELS. And Brian J. Smith’s hot gay sex in The War Boys is one of the reasons I got into this show. He does tortured feels very very well.

  5. About that orgy scene….it’s probably because it was hot in my apt or I’m thirsty as hell but that scene was…”sweet lesbian jesus not today my body was not ready!!!!” I needed a drink or a cig or whatever cliche there is to have after having (witnessing) a hot scene like that.

    “The orgy was bomb. The fight scenes are bomb. I think we need to watch this show as a group so I can pull you all into my lovefest.”

    Agreed.

    Now that I got that out of the way. I actually enjoyed Sense8 because I’m a huuuuuuuge sci-fi nerd and Sci-fi/Fantasy is my favorite genre. Seeing “Martha Jones” from Doctor Who play a lesbian in Sense8, I could not deal and was here for every moment Naomi and Amanita was on screen. I also loved Lito (so so beautiful) and his “bodyguard” boo Hernando and their scenes. I’m still “eh” about the more stereotypical character arcs because I felt with these characters they could have gone so much deeper and challenge the tropes because it’s Sci-Fi anything is possible!

    I have not finished the season I’m going to finish tonight and believe I’ll be back with more feelings.

  6. I am so sick of burly white European men stealing jewels and having involvement in complicated crime rings and traipsing about in leather jackets with their slight facial hair and inability to express authentic emotions, it’s like the B-plot of every action movie geared towards bro-dudes. It’s so boring and unoriginal. I could’ve done without Wolfgang altogether, although him and Lito helping each other near the end did endear me to him briefly.

    I loved the Lito / Dani / Hernando stuff the most, hands down, and Dani felt the most real to me as well. I was also so impressed by the treatment of Amanita and Nomi. They were the most “together” couple and I loved that they did authentic sex scenes.

    But most of the dialogue felt a little stiff and uninspired when they were expressing human emotions about things that weren’t big picture or technical or whatever.

    In general though, there didn’t really feel to be a point? But I liked it when they’d all come together to help each other and be a fighting team!

    • I like Wolfgang. I like his scene when he’s at Felix’s bedside talking about chosen family, and how Felix is his. I liked when Lito helped him, and Lito tells him “Lying is easy. Lying is what I do.” followed by Wolfgang helping Lito later, “Fighting is what I do.” I liked his terrible drunk karaoke and even his dumb smirk when he sees his water birth like oh, that’s why I enjoy swimming naked.

      Cheers to sense8’s social media team posting the clip of Wolfgang pissing on his father’s grave on Facebook in honor of Father’s Day yesterday. Cheeky.

    • I really liked Wolfgang, though I know what you mean. Maybe I just have a sweet spot for characters like this, and knowing the actor beforehand helped. I loved his relationship with Felix and even more so with Lito, though I really wasn’t into his romance storyline. The feeling of his scenes in general were my favourite besides maybe Sun. The person that I could do without is Will tbh.

  7. There was something about this show that hit me right in the id. I mean, I already knew I loved soft near-future sci-fi with queer people in it. But I did not realize just how quickly all 8 of them would worm their ways into my heart (even Wolfgang, who is all my least favorite tropes). Especially Capheus (100% on the nose with “dreamboat”). (And Nomi, but I knew I’d like her.)

  8. TBH I wasn’t super into it at first and was watching it mostly for the pretty scenes of San Francisco, a city I love, and because I actually saw the Wachowski’s filming scenes at the SF Dyke March last year. But after the part with Amanita telling Nomi about falling in love with her after kissing her at the Lex I was SO INVESTED, because that’s where I first kissed (and eventually) fell in love with my partner. Then I spent the rest of the show on edge because I was convinced they were going to kill off Amanita and I would need to flip some tables in anger.

    I think that’s one of the things I loved most about the show, it wasn’t about Amanita and Nomi dealing with relationship problems, it was them as a team facing the world. I feel like you never get gays doing that. I also want to thank the show for the diverse ways they had sex; cause as a baby gay I thought oral was the only way queers do it so watching this show back then would have made me feel soooo much better. Maybe it’ll help some other baby queer out there.

    I also liked how the show pointed out that telling a trans woman that she’s ‘hot’ and you would ‘do her’ is not a compliment, because recently I’ve heard cis people say over and over how hot they find Caitlyn Jenner and how they’d fuck her and it’s like THAT’S NOT A POSITIVE STATEMENT STOP ACTING LIKE YOU’RE SO OPEN MINDED AND ENLIGHTENED.

    For the things I didn’t like, holy racism batman! Also the Chicago cop was really not compelling for me, so I was bored for almost all of his scenes. I NEVER NEED TO SEE CROWNING EVER AGAIN, it basically made me never want to have kids until my partner reminded me I wouldn’t have to actually watch the birth itself. But still, NO THANK YOU EVER. I was also more conflicted about the Daniela character because while the actress is charming I could never get over the fetishizing. It made me really dislike her. Who the fuck takes pictures of people having sex without their consent?

    I was able to get really into the show, which is something that hasn’t happened for awhile, which was nice. I got really invested the Nomi-Amanita relationship, admittedly because I saw so much of my own current relationship in it, but still lots of warm fuzzy’s. I’d recommend it to a friend, with a caveat that it could have been much better with a better script.

    • And that wasn’t the only time she violated their consent either. Her whole presence in their dynamic is based on her pushing herself on Lito and then when she discovered he was gay inserting herself into their relationship and essentially challenging them to have a problem with it

  9. So that first Nomi and Amanita sex scene made my jaw drop, then I sort of scream laughed/cried and punched the air and contacted every lesbian I know raving about representation and realism and also trying not to spoiler it. So yeah. From that point I was in it for the long haul. My missus says she’ll never be able to watch season 3 of Doctor Who again…but never mind. Amanita and Nomi’s relationship is lovely, I love that there’s no drama between them, that in itself seems revolutionary for a TV show. Yeah there’s some clunky dialogue but I’m such a sci fi nerd that I’m used to explainers alternating with massive lack of explanation in shows and movies and games that I just take it as read and enjoy the ridiculousness. The crowning…Lord the crowning… I never ever need to see that again. Ever. Yikes.

      • this scene was the hook of the series for me, because it allowed the show to be light and reveal that they weren’t taking themselves Too Seriously. as one of the cutest moments of humanity in the show, it was a lil silly, a lil campy and just a whole lot of fun?

        i’m a sucker for sci-fi + group dynamics + people coming together (orgy pUN) so the show foregrounding that and never ever deviating from that just made this a really worthwhile and engaging watch, i think

        would binge again, would recommend

        it’s good tv

        • My love for this show has 3 stages:

          – Amanita and Nomi and the glorious rainbow strap-on (OMFG, did I just see that? That was for real?).

          – Nomi’s Pride monologue.

          – and this song. I loveee this song, you can put it on The Smurfs and I would watch that crap.

          If you take a look at this, yes, it seems I’m a bit easy. It doesn’t take much to make a show I would watch and re-watch.

  10. There’s no way in hell I’m watching this. I’ve been on tumblr while this was being discussed and white queer/trans women were basically telling PoC they should get over Lanas racism and support this show because they liked the representation. Pretty disgusting but kind of what I expect from white queers/lesbians/trans. So il pass. If Lana had said something against white women (like made fun of their weight or something) it’s doubtful this show would be so popular or even been made but racism is acceptable in queer circles and often encouraged so same old same old.

    • Hey J.V.,

      I’m interested in engaging in a conversation with you (totes OK if you’re not).

      So I get how Lana is hella problematic, how her films like Cloud Atlas are problematic, how even this show is problematic.

      But I fall into this issue of– Sense8 has diversity on a mainstream platform like few other shows right now do. Sure, it (and its creators) falls short in many ways, but it has QPOC, a trans actress playing a trans woman, and even in cameos a queer trans man of color.

      I personally feel a pull because I want to see people like me (QPOC, POC in general on the screen, in non-subservient roles, with complex(-ish) storylines). I watched Glee for a while before I couldn’t stomach the inaneness of it all with kind of the mindset (hell yeah, it’s problematic, but sometimes it’s nice to see a piece of you in a story).

      I see my support/viewership of such a show, along with criticism and visible support of other less problematic artists who are doing better work, as a vote to acknowledge a diverse show and a vote to get more (that are hopefully less problematic, more deserving) shows like it out there.

      Can I hear more of your thoughts?

      • Yes you can because you aren’t speaking over WoC like the white women in this thread. Basically I’ve reached my limit of pandering to white queers/lesbians/trans and their feelings. The way tumblr users have responded to this show and to Agent Carter (urgh) has completely put me off. The white fans are basically saying ‘hey we know Lana is a total disgusting white supremacist but guys I feel represented by this show so you need to support it otherwise you are homophobic/transphobic!’ They were calling a post started by a black person (which called out Lanas comments and told PoC to avoid the show) disgusting and narrow minded. One post said well I boycotted Orson Scott Cards work because he’s outright homophobic but this is different because this has different writers blah blah blah. It’s basically saying to QPoC that they should suck it up and accept racism for the sake of white gay representation. And yes I understand there are PoC actors in this but that doesn’t excuse Lanas comments.There have been plenty of PoC in other racist dreck.I understand the need for representation but I don’t think it should come at the expense of PoC humanity. It’s unsurprising that the biggest champions of this show are white women. Compare this to True Detective which has been torn into for its lack of development for its white women characters. White women are openly boycotting the show as a result and no one is saying that they shouldn’t. It just seems like PoC always have to take the hits for others.

        • So full disclosure, I’m a South Asian American queer cis-woman.

          I understand, as turkish wrote below, why you and others would choose not to watch this show. And I get how frustrating it would be to post valid concerns about Lana’s racism and get shouted down as homophobic/transphobic.

          This line is great in making me think:I understand the need for representation but I don’t think it should come at the expense of PoC humanity.

          What I’m reading from this and other comments you made is that this show cannot be divorced from its creator, and therefore viewing it cannot be divorced from supporting Lana. I guess I wonder if there’s any middle ground there to be had, or if looking for a middle ground is just looking for a way to not feel guilty about supporting racism.

          As a South Asian American woman, finding a South Asian woman in an American television show is like finding a unicorn at a Republican convention — so even if that woman is always wearing a sari and falls in love with white men, your eyes still gravitate to her. Same thing, on a different level, of finding a queer person of color on a TV show.

          I also wanted to say that before reading the review above, I had no idea about the Trans100 speech (I’m not sure how I missed it, probably was working too hard), and so pieces like this do serve people like me in terms of us reevaluating the show with that context. But so do your comments.

    • Hey JV. I’m a queer POC too and I was really against this show when I first heard about because of Lana. I haven’t been on Tumblr too much so I don’t know what the discussion is but I find that white Tumblr in general has a really hard time excepting criticism about literally every show when it comes to racism. Every single one. It can be really exhausting engaging with them so I tend to avoid it at all costs at this point in order to enjoy my life stress free.

      Anyway, I put off watching this show for a while because of Lana but the diverse cast(which includes one of my faves, Frema Aygeman) made me want to give it a try and I ended up liking it. The show does a really good job with the queer storylines. One of the best on tv IMO. And yeah they do need to do a little work on some the other stereotypical aspects of the show, which is definitely a fair criticism. I still think Lana Wachowski is a piece of shit. Just like I think Ryan Murphy and Bryan Fuller are pieces of shit but I still end up watching their shows if I think they are good or support my favorite actors. I’m still going to call them out on their bullshit though. I can like a thing and still criticize it. And really if I decided to watch every tv show where one of the creators was extremely problematic I wouldn’t have much to watch at all. But I respect others decisions not to watch it.

    • i’m black and i only found out about the antiblack comments after i’d started the show and it definitely soured my view of the show but at the same time, even though i think the show is nothing to shout about, i still have to watch something that features qpoc (which is my problem, sigh). if the antiblackness had *seriously* seeped into the show (because don’t get me wrong, i have major problems with that whole thing with will and the black kid he took to the hospital to get treated) i would have been out straight away. i didn’t find that lana’s politics ruined the show completely and i can’t afford to stop watching when i’m able to handle so few shows either because of the misogynoir or the fandom so i take what i can get though i understand your misgivings and i do agree with you that some of the people on tumblr really do love brushing off antiblack racism in a way they wouldn’t for other oppressive behaviour.
      other things: i hated the focus on will and will/riley, thought the orgy scene was hot, fell in love with hernando, want my hair like aminita’s and can’t even remember what the hell actually happened so i guess that’s the impression the show left on me! i only managed to stick with the series by forcing myself and i’m not sure if i’m glad i did.

      (hope this all makes sense! no capital letters because i’m tired and it’s late)

      • As a black woman I’m also conflicted because Lana is a PIECE OF SHIT but I also feel like this show is really important since it does have a trans lead, queer leads, POC leads(some of whom have really great character development/storylines) and unfortunately that is still really rare on television. I want to support that in the hopes that more shows like this get made. But again Lana is a piece of shit so what do I do? She is far from the only one though. Which is why I say if I stopped watching every show that had a creator who was completely awful what would I have left to watch? not much. I don’t want to punish any of the seemingly good people involved with the show, many of whom are minorities, just because this one person is human garbage. At the same time, I respect and support others decision to not watch it at all because of this as well. And I’m definitely always up for discussing and critiquing what’s problematic about it and will continue to call out Lana on public forums for her shittiness despite my enjoyment of this one project of hers. I do the same with other shows that I like that have major problematic elements. For example, the writers of Game of Thrones owe me a new keyboard.

        • Also, do you know how many black lesbians like myself are on television? I can count on one hand. I’ve got Oitnb, The Fosters and Sense8 and those shows all do a good job with those characters while being problematic in other areas. Growing up I didn’t see any women like this on television that I could look up to so that’s another reason why I gave this show a chance. Maybe some young teenage girl now can look at Poussey or Lena or Amanita and be inspired and that’s always a good thing. But again, it’s Lana Wachowshi so…. yeah conflicted.

          • Also this thing about all writers are terrible is ridiculous. I haven’t heard such strong anti black sentiment from a main writer or producer of a tv show that I do watch. I’m sure they do harbour racist views but they sure as hell do not attend inclusive events and then blame minorities for their problems. Even if you acknowledge Lana is a piece of shot you are still supporting her output and she will take the credit (she seems like one of those racist white women who take credit for everything) so ultimately the supremacist is rewarded. If people on tumblr and here were actually this bothered about QPoC representation they would support other shows featuring QPoc. But this show has a white trans woman lesbian and a white gay couple and those are tumblr favourites. All they needed was a Ruby Rose esque type white lesbian character and it would have been the ultimate in white queer representation.

          • “If people on tumblr and here were actually this bothered about QPoC representation they would support other shows featuring QPoc. But this show has a white trans woman lesbian and a white gay couple and those are tumblr favourites. All they needed was a Ruby Rose esque type white lesbian character and it would have been the ultimate in white queer representation.

            Well, I can’t speak for everybody JV. Only myself. Again, black woman here who watches a lot of televison doesn’t always see herself reflected. As I stated above I do watch shows with other QPoc or just POC in general. Their are only a handful of the former and I watch all of them. And all of them have their own issues when it comes to stereotypes. For example, there are plenty of articles on the internet about the good and bad stereotypes on OITNB. I personally don’t give a shit about Piper and Alex. I watch the show for pretty much every other character but them.

            Sense8 does have a black lesbian on it and that is very rare and she is not a caricature. She is one of the best characters on the show IMO. As a teenager, I would have killed to see a character like Amanita on television. She wouldn’t have been allowed to existed 15 years ago without being some horrible minor character who was killed off within a few episodes. And they definitely wouldn’t have allowed her to have a fully fleshed out relationship where she had sex with her partner. We have come a long way since then and yet I can still only name about 3 or 4 black lesbians on television who are still alive and are main characters. This show is one of them. Yes, the show also features a white Trans woman. So what? Trans women as main characters is also pretty damn rare too and people are allowed to be excited about that as well. Just because someone finds this particular show entertaining doesn’t mean they support’s Lana Wachowski racist views and I don’t think anybody who has commented on this article is saying that they do. I can’t speak for Tumblr as I haven’t read what anyone over there thinks of the show. Anyway, I just don’t see this as black and white as you do. But again, nobody is saying you absolutely HAVE TO WATCH this show. This is just a review of the show. We are all just giving our opinions of it here and everyone can do with that information what they will.

          • Oh I’m sorry that wasn’t directed at you. I understand where you are coming from and why you chose to watch the show. Those comments are directed to the white queers on here and on tumblr who are saying we should separate the art from the artist and support white queers wholeheartedly. Not you. I apologise if you felt I was targeting you. I’ve just noticed a lot of white queers will pay lip service to PoC representation or racism but don’t actually support any PoC works bar posting Beyonce gifs now and then.

          • It’s all good JV. I know you weren’t attacking me. Believe me I get it. I used to get into Tumblr arguments all the time with people about fandom racism. It even soured me on continuing to watch some of my favorite shows because of how horrible the fandoms are. I’m much happier now that I spend less time on that site and stopped following a lot of the people.

  11. I don’t want to be one of those people who say “You have to divorce the art from the artist!” Like I’m never gonna defend Willy Allen and I’m not going to defend the Wachowskis. But I do have a weak spot for LBT representation. On some level I don’t care how problematic the writers are– as long as the material is good and as long as it’s one of the rare pieces of media that makes me feel like my friends and I can exist in the world, I’m gonna watch it. I loved Nomi and Amanita from the moment I saw the tumblr gifs.

    The sensates are painted with a pretty broad brush re: stereotypes and I wish they were less so, but as Zahra mentioned above, Kala isn’t in an arranged marriage. It’s a love match with an ironic lack of love. I also object to Riley being described as a ‘manic pixie dream girl.’ Manic pixie dream girls aren’t problematic because they’re manic. Bipolar woman exist. Manic pixie dream girls are problematic because they exist “solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” As far as I’ve watched, Riley is more than that.

  12. I think it was a good show, that could have been great. I mean, I fell in love with the characters right away, but their interactions could have been way more deeper and better explored, I was kinda disappointed about the way they handled that.

    I also think that it’s the only show where I ship ALL the couples, like Kala and Wolfgang were so cuuute, and I don’t know if I love more Nomi and Amanita (they had me at the first scene tbh) or Hernando e Lito (I LOVE YOU LITO).

    And yes to the orgy, big nope to the crowning.

  13. I’m not riding the autostraddle bummer train. Like Gabby, I really enjoyed this show. I don’t need for every episode to be constantly driving towards a large, unifying plot. It’s fine, it can stay in the background a little while if I give a shit about the characters, and I do, and oh hey they’re all starring in their own mini movies that connect. I agree that the dialogue can be grating*, but tbh it hasn’t impacted my overall enjoyment that much. Maybe I just got distracted by the gorgeous filming and accompanying music. (The sigur ros was very on the nose.)

    I think people misread the orgy scene. Here’s the thing: I’m rigid and unforgiving when it comes to portrayals of lesbians on tv having sex with men including Emily/JJ Skins-like situations that people shrug off. So as soon as I saw Nomi kissing a man, my immediate reaction was to bristle…until it kept going, and I saw it for what it was. As Sayid Jonas tells Will, “You are no longer just you.” The writers have even explained that while the sensates have their own individual sexuality, within a cluster everyone is effectively pansexual.

    Also, about that stereotypes section: like other commenters are pointing out, Kala isn’t in an arranged marriage. She’s not in an anything-marriage! It’s a “love” match, and she never weds him. I also disagree that Riley is a manic pixie dream girl. She has her own storylines, she connects the sensates together, she’s a badass motherfucker. She’s not written to be saved by Will – in fact, she has a hand in saving him and by extension the whole cluster. She’s also depressed and riddled with anxiety, which hardly fits into that trope.

    *except for Lito. The point is that he always speaks like he’s in a telenovela even when he’s not acting. That said, as much as I love Lito, it was a treat to see him get punched out right in the middle of his line “we can do this the hard way, or the easy way.” Joaquin was definitely the audience surrogate in that moment.

        • Ooh I’ve been godwined already. Amazing. No it means you and Brianna can only come up with pathetic arguments to support your bigotry. Quick run to tumblr and insert a hilarious Jenifer Lawrence gif as your response. That seems to be the standard white women response to racism.Calling out racism and refusing to support an unrepentant racist isn’t a ‘bummer’ for me, it’s survival. We have already seen what people with similar views to Lana Wachowski have done in Charleston. Now carry on rolling your eyes at people calling out racism.

          • Another racist white woman! Amazing. Just bring an Amy Schumer gif and Lena Dunham with her boobs out gif and you will have the trifecta of awful racist white women. Great argument.

          • You guys can I just say that it is really really uncool to respond especially to a woc with eye-rolling gifs?! Come on! And don’t start with the tone argument.

        • First, I’m not a “White Woman”, I’m a Latina if you want to call me something.

          Second, you’re calling me, and several women here, racist, just because I like a show; a show that is not racist.

          I do not criticize your decision about not watching this show; I don’t call you transphobic just because you didn’t watch it. I didn’t do that because I don’t know anything about who you are, except your name.

          Lana Wachowski is one stupid racist woman, but you know what? I don’t live my life according with the LGBT celebrity of the week; I don’t follow whatever the fuck Lana Wachowski, Laverne Cox, Miley Cyrus, Kathryn Jenner or Ruby Rose are saying as the law.

          Lana Wachowski is a racist peanut-brain woman. She may have struggled with her transitioning, but in the end, she was in a privileged position, so I don’t give a shit about what she has to say. Her life will never be anything similar to mine, and this applies to every out or coming-out celebrity going around in the world.

          • You are still supporting a show that is racist and basically telling people who think it’s gross to support a racist idiots. But she didn’t target Latinas or trans people so you and Met are comfortable with the bigotry. And lots of (white, female)fans of this nonsense were calling people transphobic because they didn’t want to support a white supremacist.

  14. My biggest problem was the universal English. Like they weren’t even really speaking English, it was just for the audience’s sake. I don’t think anyone coming into this show would have had issues with reading subtitles. It also just made it unnecessarily extra confusing.

    Other than that I really enjoyed the show. (I know because I accidentally binge watched it.)

    • When I was watching it I thought that it was to get across the sense that in their heads they were all speaking the same language – like it shocks them when they realize they are actually speaking and understanding different languages, because they have been so closely in tune with each other.

      But I also understand the criticisms here! Just how I read it on first watch.

  15. So Amanita and Nomi along with gorgeous backgrounds (in terms of the countries they filmed in) totally got me hooked.

    Nomi is so kickass, but seeing a QPOC just not give a damn and be so happy in love and rebellion was amazing.

    I felt like the show was a little too focused on Will, and the violence was hard to stomach at points. Like totally didn’t get the point of Wolfgang’s arc at all and why he would be appealing at all to Kala.

    Also, yes. The stereoypical setting/character matchups. Long siiiiigh.

    I feel like I didn’t totally know what was going on, but I still watch Orphan Black and understand about 70% of the plot at this point, so that wasn’t too much of a problem.

    • Yeah, Wolfgang’s thing was weird and I didn’t really get it either. Also I kept forgetting that he and Kala were supposed to be a “thing” or whatever (because she saw his dick one time and SWOON now they’re in love????) and every time they had a scene together I would be like “huh, I guess it’s interesting to see these two characters that don’t have much interaction being put together” and then they’d talk about how they were forbidden lovers and I was like “oooohhhhh yeah…..” EVERY TIME I would forget because like, what the fuck?

  16. Also it’s pretty gross that three non black women are talking over black people and encouraging everyone to watch this show. It’s easy to support someone when their bigotry doesn’t affect you directly. Would Mey be so forgiving if Lana had targeted minority groups she’s part of?

    • I’m not sure where exactly I’m supporting Lana Wachowski despite her racism and encouraging everyone to watch this show. Is it in the multiple paragraphs where I call her a racist and talk about the racist things she does, the part where I say I didn’t really like this show or the part where I literally say “So, if you know about [her racism] and decide to not watch Sense8, I’m not gonna blame you”?

      • I think it was the part where you suggested that maybe you should have watched a telenovela instead of watching this show and also the whole title of this article. It was a litte unclear, a bit subtle.

      • Maybe it’s the fact that you forego all that and still watched the show and give it a positive review? And you arent black or Indian so it’s easier for you to ignore the comments and watch the show. And are encouraging others to watch by starting a discussion on here? Also would you still have watched had the writers said something openly sexist or transphobic?

        • I’m pretty sure Mey volunteered to watch the show because commenters on AS were like, “MUST WATCH. Please watch and write about Sense8!!! PLEASE!!!” I mean, I think it was not even a show she really wanted to watch out of a genuine feelings of interest. As ya’ll know, Mey watches many shows for AS, not always ones she enjoys, because she is the trans editor and people expect her to have an opinion on all media representation that has a trans person in it, it seems. And I’m glad she watched it. So I don’t have to.

          I don’t feel like she gave a positive review. Did we read the same piece? It seems more like, “This show was problematic for many reasons and I wouldn’t watch it again. Here are some things that are not-awful, but still I didn’t love it.”

          • Still doesn’t explain the lack of black people or Indian comments on this seeing as those were the group’s Lana so thoughtfully targeted. And yeah I dont see that much negativity towards this show from any of the writers. It’s still encouraging people to watch this shite for the sake of discussion. I’d rather not support a person who thinks I’m subhuman due to the colour of my skin regardless of them being queer.

        • I’m not even sure why I’m jumping in here, as I- like J.V.- have no interest in watching this show and can’t get past the explicit time and again racism of Lana enough to even press play on Netflix.

          But, I will say that I definitely did NOT get the vibe that Mey was supporting or promoting this show. She seemed pretty clearly to straddle the line between “ambivalent meh” and “strongly not into it” from the first paragraph to the last. She didn’t even have to include the opening paragraphs about Lana’s racism -she CHOSE to. I think that says as much about her position about Sense8 and its creators as does anything else.

          Anyway, my point is, it seems a little unfair to attack Mey specifically about choosing to write about the show at all. She’s the trans editor of Autostraddle. Autostraddle is the world’s most popular independent queer woman’s site. Sense8 is right now the biggest conversation in television about trans queer women this side of OITNB. And Autostraddle readers have been taking over the comment sections for weeks now clamoring for some coverage. I’m not sure she had much of a choice, is what I’m saying.

          I think she handled everything best she could, given the situation she was dealt. At least I don’t think I could have done any better if I was in her shoes.

          • Actually if she chose not to include her white supremacist comments that would be incredibly racist. She only mentioned them to make sure that she’s seen as not anti black but wants to watch a show created by an anti black bigot. But I forgot racism is valid if you are a white gay or lesbian/trans so it’s moot to discuss it. Ultimately the feelings of white women in queer and feminist spaces always win out. I’m hoping this shit doesn’t get a second series, that will definitely annoy all the racists and hurt Lana ‘black people are responsible for homophobia’ Wachowski directly.

    • Yeah PoC calling out racism is truly hostile. I don’t know how white women cope with life. You and Lana are truly saints for putting up with us ‘hostile’ ethnics. Maybe you could form a white supremacist queers club? I’m sure Dan Savage will join too.

  17. <>

    And one of the characters is literally named “Amanita”. The Wachowskis need to stop letting their mushroom trips influence their filmmaking so much, Christ.

  18. Totally agree with what you guys are saying. I actually love/hate Sense8. I like how it kinda belongs up there with the Heroes and Lost generation of television, with huge steps forward in various aspects… but it’s also very cliche and dangerously stereotypical. I’m relieved to know I’m not the only one who felt slightly offended over the stereotypes.

    My first complaint was how everyone spoke English, and only when sensing each other for the first time did they speak their language. I know the main audience is the American audience, but even Daredevil was more respectful to having characters with other nationalities speak their language! My biggest pain was not even hearing Lito speak Spanish while filming his novela/movie </3

    I wish they had written Sun's storyline better! I loved her and felt like she had so much to give to the story…

  19. So… I’m still not sure where I stand on the whole show: in some respects I really like it and some I really don’t.

    My insipid opinion aside, I really wanted to say thank you to those who reviewed this as well as everyone else who’s joining the discussion (and for autostraddle more generally!) – I really appreciate hearing such diverse views about the intersection of race, queerness, the art/creator distinction etc. It’s always great for me to check that I haven’t completely lost the plot, especially when some of the issues do not directly apply to me.

    Thanks very much!

  20. I stopped watching it when I saw that the characters were not speaking their maternal language but english. Also, too much characters for my little brain – When I will remember all the males characters of PLL, I will maybe watch a 8 main characters show x)

  21. I really really loved this show. There were many stereotypical portrayals. The dialogue was dumb. Some scenes were so, so ridiculously over-acted. The plot was like a bad acid trip. And it still rent my little shipper’s heart into pieces, even despite its many (many) flaws.

    This is a show where your mileage is going to vary. For instance, I hated Daniela with the burning passion of a thousand fiery suns; I thought she was a sexual predator and she made me deeply uncomfortable. She takes pictures of Lito and Hernando having sex WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT OR KNOWLEDGE. I absolutely could not get behind the fact that she was living with them, and no amount of schmoopy sad backstory was going to make me sympathize with her. I just. HAAAAAATE.

    But Mey and Aja really liked her despite her obvious flaws, and I think that’s a perfect representation of how divisive some of the characters and scenes in this show can be.

    Wolfgang was my guilty indulgence– I have a deep abiding love for stoic, morally repugnant ice queens that happens to carry over to dudebros. I wanted to build Capheus a blanket fort. I shipped Sun and several of her cellmates, priority express. Actually I really just shipped everyone in a big platonic polycule.

    Tl;dr: this show had a lot of my catnip, so I was willing to overlook some of its glaring problems, but I would completely understand if a different viewer wanted to burn their laptop after watching it.

    • I feel the same way about Daniela. And I’m really surprised that that sentiment isn’t more widely shared. She totally acted in a sexually predatory way towards Lito and Hernando throughout the show, and I feel like it gets passed off as cute somehow?

      I really wanted it to turn out that she was scamming them — that she and Joaquim actually planned a blackmail together, because then at least there wouldn’t be this sympathetic light cast on her actions, like “oh, she’s the victim, she just made a silly mistake”. No, she’s a victim… who also victimized a gay couple. Yeeek.

  22. As much as I feel the tug of the sci-fi melodrama to inherit from Lost and Heroes…

    There was a lot of WTF on a lot of levels. Why is everyone speaking English, in their homeland, to their friends and family? Would Sun having a conversation in Korean with her father really have exploded so many minds? This is a recurring problem in these sci-fi shows that try to talk about “the human condition” and it’s boggling.

    • Surely having dyslexic people, illiterate people and people with vision problems able to follow the show is enough reason to have the audio be in one language, with the only exceptions being where the language barrier is more important to the scene than the line itself.

      Subtitles would add an unnecessary barrier to several groups of viewers.

      • Having people speaking english would have meant that american are able to support a movie not in english, and don’t expect them to understand that the whole world don’t speak english. The rest of the world have to learn english and to read subtitle to see many movies (wich is really frustrating when you can’t really read subtitles. my gf is visually impaired, and watching movies in english can be very long because I have not only to describe what is happening but also who is speaking and what he is saying), but not american. Not kidding, when american teenagers were in my school, there was a festival of african movies in my city. We should have gone to see a movie in arab, but we don’t because the american teachers thought it was too hard for american student to see a movie not in english.

        I am myself a fervent millitant of people speaking their natives languages, and viewer having the option to :
        – see it with the native language (+ subtitles)
        – see it in english (without subtitles)
        Of course, it would ask for a little effort, because the actors whould have to make two recording, but there would have been two advantages :
        – There would be another language thant english at the screen
        – visually impaired & people who can’t read subtitles could still watch it

      • That is such BS, the rest of the world reads subtitles. Why do we constantly lower standards in the US. It’s lazy and embarassing. Don’t make this about people with disabilities, because it’s not.

  23. This is pretty fair in some respects and pretty harsh in others. I was definitely super invested in Nomi and Amanita. I did note that I liked/cared about Amanita and Hernando more than most of the sensate characters, but I’m fine with that–awesome queer partners on tv are just amazing to see. I was invested enough in Riley and her dad to want things to go well for them (also, Riley’s actress’s name is Tuppence Middleton, can we talk about that??), I was invested in Capheus and Sun, I was invested in Kala even though they didn’t let her do much until near the end. They did try too hard to make me care about hetero intra-sensate-cluster makeouts that I did not end up caring about, and I’m totally with you guys on the orgy, particularly Nomi being so into it, but hey.

    I see why the show is getting some of its criticism, but not caring about any of these people or thinking the plot is too confusing were *not* reactions I had at all. The violence is rough sometimes, but it’s not the usual fare and it’s mostly so over-the-top and unreal that I could enjoy it, with the exception of Dani’s abuse–but even including that arc, there’s no onscreen sexual violence at all, which is something. (And how about that scene where Capheus roundhouse kicks a guy WITH HIS VAN? That was cool as hell.)

    Totally agree on the conflicting feelings about Dani, but I was satisfied with how it resolved. Every scene with Lito in it after a certain point just had this undercurrent of “Lito, you need to come out.”

    Will’s white savior complex was for REAL, but at least they tried to make him not aggressively sucky. In a way, Will’s story was about using his privilege to give others a hand, and if we have to have an extremely boring CHWM with daddy issues at the forefront, that’s not the worst way to do it. Also the first time I saw Dr. Whispers being the villain in that first scene I was like “is this a show in which the badguy is The Patriarchy? I think it is” and nothing in the rest of the season changed my mind.

    So, like every show ever (and definitely much like this season of OINTB…) it is far from beyond reproach, and perhaps this first season was a little uneven. But I thought it had a lot of terrific stuff going for it, and I am really, really eager to see more. Also the cinematography is glorious, wow.

    • Tuppence Middleton is such a quintessentially British name, I love it

      re: gratuitous violence, I seemed to find it easier to watch someone get their arms chopped off or get shot in the face five times than watching a zombie ripping someone’s face off a la The Walking Dead last season. This might be a personal problem.

  24. After one long day coming home from classes, I decided to give this show a shot after seeing a post about it on tumblr.

    Well, I sure am glad that I did.

    Sure, there may be certain attributes about the show that weren’t favorable, like the kinda slow start (honestly, I was not expecting the first episode to drag on for an hour), and some of the scenes seemed to lag on for a while, like some of the scenes with Will.

    BUT, there are really great things about this show, such as the representation.
    Sure, some of the characters are stereotypical, like the Korean fighter, and the Kenyan woman with AIDS, but do we ever get to see that kind of stuff shown in the media? It was nice that this was brought to light.

    I also like how the showings of the characters was fairly equal and consistent. There were some character-centered episodes, but the others were definitely featured, and brought up in a later episode with a stronger role in the episode.

    And the queer representation was a very good plus :). I especially liked the complete representation of it through Nomi/Amanita, with how Nomi’s mother was completely unaccepting of her and constantly called her “Michael”, yet how Amanita’s mother was fully accepting. It shows that it’s not only one sided, which in my eyes is a plus.

    Overall, I agree with some of the points made in the article, but disagree with some. I feel like this show deserves a shot, and I have grown to actually really enjoy it. I felt like OITNB this season was a bit of a disappointment, and this definitely made up for some of that disappointment. The characters all have a tragically beautiful story to tell, and it’s definitely worth listening to.

  25. Mey, you get snaps for watching all of it. I got 1 1/2 episodes into it before I just switched it off. As much as I hate to say it, I think the Wachowski’s are incredibly overrated. The Matrix was cool, but I’ve heard they lifted that story from a graphic novel. Cloud Atlas was at best incomprehensible, and at worst racist. Sense 8 was even more so.

    But at the same time, yay Jamie Clayton!!! So happy that she got to star in a well publicized series!

    • matrix can be traced back to loads of different things mainly to baudrillards theories. whilst the were inspired things they didn’t lift it completely. It’s more like a patchwork collage of cool shots and cool theories than anything else

    • I had to get through like 5 episodes before I started getting into it. By 5 episodes, I mean 5 episodes that I listened to while texting/playing on my phone because the show was too damn convoluted for me to 100% pay attention to it. Now I’m at ep 10 and I’m into it.

  26. “I’m good with crowning scenes through 2025 now.”

    LOL LOL LOL

    Childbirth (horror) stories are one of the ONLY things that make me queasy, so I’m not looking forward to getting to that part of the series. My bff did warn me though, because she knows about my weirdness.

    Also, I’m French. Can someone PLEASE explain to me why pretend-partners of the opposite sex are called beards? For some reason I find that super gross-sounding.

    And I feel yall on the poor dialogue. I LOVE Nomi and Neet, but their love declarations to each other make me roll my eyes, and so did Lito’s recollection of their first date in the museum. Nobody talks like that IRL.

    • Beards cover up and can be a disguise, so it’s an appropriate slang term for someone being used to conceal another’s sexuality. Wiki page

      “Impossibility is a kiss away from reality” and “Now that’s what I call…fireworks” were Amanita’s worst offenders. Also “I took him into my mouth like I was taking Holy Communion” – god, Lito, very on-brand for you but that’s some bad smut.

      also be forewarned – there’s a childbirth scene in episode 11 as well.

      • yes! all of the lines you mentioned made me stop watching and make a break, too much to handle!
        also – I honestly though she said “firefucks”.

        “Now that’s what I call… firefucks”.

        For a brief moment there I was pretty happy to get to know a new word. But nope.

  27. Hey does anyone know of a transcript of the Trans100 speech that Lana Wachowski gave that was so troubling? Trying to learn more about the problematic stuff and having a little difficulty finding anything but references to it online.

    • Here’s a video of it, the anti-black part starts at 13 minutes, but you can go to 12:30 for context. What’s almost as bad as her words are the disgusting claps she got after it. There was also some appropriation of Native American culture/gender identities in there too.

  28. I totally agree with all of Mey and Aja’s points, like this show is hella problematic in ways. also why was Amanita’s mom white??? Like there was no backstory for her being biracial or adopted, and they could have jUST AS EASILY cast a black woman as her mother and kept the same character. that really bothered me, racist casting people. but but but
    I LOVE THIS SHOW. the birth scene was one of the most amazing scenes i have ever watched on television, and it’s visually stunning, and i really like the idea of the 8 being connected. it’s cool, you know? also the show is so confusing but weirdly has no plot? i don’t understand it at all but i love love loved it.

    • Super late to this comment thread but Freema Agyeman is biracial (her mother is Iranian), so why does her character need special backstory for it to make sense that her mom isn’t black?

  29. AAA soo many thoughts! first of all. i finish watching literally an hour ago, and since then Ive been reading the comments, like I almost never do here in autostraddle, i read ALLL the comments, so thank you ALL!! It feels like commenting!! ( i have no one else that has watched it all yet so you have to hear me now!)
    Also, somehow i didnt know any of the controversies around Lana and her brother, thanks for that piece of information.

    Once i finished i felt i liked it, but somehow i think i was much more hoked on the homosexual visibility than in the plot in particular, actually i dont know if there is one.. I am very happy about the diversity of the characters, but then again is also problematic with the cliches. there was a phrase from May i liked a lot.

    The stereotypical nature of all these characters almost cancels out their diversity.

    As I was reading the comments I realize i did not pick on the lang issue as much of other people did. Still i understood it so: sensates have the ability to understand each others language. Thats why in my mind each of them was talking their own language and then the other person would just “understand” due to their sensates-magic power. Wolfang speaks german when he is in the toilet talking to Kala, thinking she is inside one of the toilets.. she just answers back (in english though). Then I think theres also one time (and am making a case with few examples! but well) where Lito swears or acts surprised, he uses spanish ( aaa also do i remember correctly in the red carpet scene where he talks about his spanish dad, from Bilbao? Is he actually spanish, FROM spain (i mean?? this changes all, more on this later) aaa i remember now there is also Will speaking Corean when going to visit jonas… i think my theory (of the characters actually just understanding each other ) works… now you correct me but Ive always though people from the US dont read subtitles… would this be an option? I would love if they would actually take notice from the comments here and improve this in next season.

    Burning question: in the last episode, how is Lito able to talk to the islandic medical worker? He was not there-there in body, how could he make himself visible for a non-sensate person??

    next, I learned i new word today, crowning.. (yes Priscilla you are not alone in this question!) well, to call it like this i find it ridiculous.I LOVE all the times we saw babies coming out of vaginas, people whats the problem with this!! i was soo shock and happy at the same time, this is someting that does not happen often, also i think most of us came out from there, or you all weird cyborgs? Besides my mum always complains about unrealistic births in movies, i think she will like this one(s).

    Daniela.. she is supposed to be a latina that enjoys watching gay porn and also someone that is not embarrased to say what she likes… whats not to like?.

    Then going back to Lito and he’s maybe spanish background… i dont know.. its clearly Mexico .. am not in any way saying male homophobia is over in latin america (neither any of the other -phobias) but are we not in the era post Ricky Martin?? i felt that played some role in the entertainment world.. but then again, what do i know.. am just putting it out there.

    Last I am currently living in Berlin, and I really enjoyed seeing it on screen (love-face) also since i can only talk from this location point of view, i loooved that they were so careful with the details; the licence plates were from Berlin, the beer in the pubs was acurate and even the kleenex brand on the drawer of the car (i dont know how you call that compartment on the passenger seat of the car).
    Here they also played (my reading) with yet another prototype, Wolfang is said to come from east Berlin, which is commonly depicted (the east in general) as free and sexually relaxed, due to their secular cultural development as a country. Thus this east german is allowed to go around naked, or naturalistic as one could translate it… does someone else think it is weird that hes the one naked, am i over reading within the lines??

    aaaaaa thats all for now =) i think am gonna watch it again…

  30. I tried giving this show a chance especially after I saw who was playing Sun (my fav actress in Cloud Atlas) and the appearance of the cast from Lost. But it was just over kill with the sex…orgy…violence…sex..sex.. and the straw that broke the camels back for me was the escape scene from the mental hospital. I am ok with the whole connected thing but I called Bullshit when she picked the handcuffs with the IV needle. Total 100% bullshit. No way. No how. Aside that this is the 21st century and we no longer use hard metal needles that would need the thickness and strength of a jumbo paper clip (at least) the fact that the show would portray that kind of procedure in a hospital made absolutely no sense. I mean don’t you think they would have taken Nomi to a regular hospital after she fell off the motorcycle? It wasn’t like her mother was stalking her. She is an adult and there is no way that they would have just stripped her rights like that. (Sorry I had to rant) but yeah picking handcuffs with a IV needle (I’ve had so so so so many to know exactly what they are made off) yeah complete and total bullshit. Magical escape. I’m done melting my brain. Oh and why did everyone speak and text in English? I would have probably connected better with the characters if they’d been speaking their natural languages instead it was just boring and the intro was so long that I was fast forwarding after the second episode. Plus I agree with most everything in the article above. A concept that could have been good very poorly written.

  31. I know I’m late it took me years to get past episode 1. It wasn’t until I read a recap that I could move forward and push through the series

    Here it is…firstly what a terrible, fear mongering mess of a portrayal of stereotypes of ‘the hood’. Just because white people believe those characters and can deal with the white savior as well as bizarre rap-inspired-as-seen-from-fearful-privileged-whites scripted lines for every black character in a show doesn’t mean it is ok. Down to the nurse at the hospital who tells white cop he can’t bring dying kid in. I’m sure anyone seeing it and knowing any of the other cultures would be as distressed. I love what was attempted espeeecially Nomi’s character and actress…would love to see it done properly same cast better writers.

  32. The first episode bothered me the way they portrayed the Asian businessmen as awful sexist frat boy types. It’s reinforcing a stereotype that all Asian men are sexist pigs and Asian women are expected to be submissive. There are tons of respected women in business and politics in Asia and men wouldn’t dare speak to them like that. There’s sexism everywhere, but the media often portrays Asians like that more than other groups. Also the martial arts thing is very stereotypical.

  33. Actually, Rajan and Kala’s marriage wasn’t arranged.. Her family says “she’s the first to marry for love in their family” numerous times..

  34. It’s a shame that you open an article attacking Lana Wachowski as racist all the while misgendering her sister, Lilly, as “her brother.” Hypocrisy at its finest.

  35. I’m Chinese, born in Taipei, so I’m sensitive to the potential insult of having White actors playing Asians in yellow face.

    I’m also an artist, and I understand the difficulty of making hard artistic choices. Cloud Atlas faced an interesting dilemma. The Wachowskys chose to use each actor many times to honor the underlying theme of a transcendent spirit spanning time and circumstance.

    This forced them to use people in a way that some might consider racist. I don’t. I think it honored something deeper in being human that transcends race and honors commonalities that span all people across all time. This was a bold attempt to honor the spirit of the book. I can respect that.

    I would have preferred the Wachowskys take the criticism straight on and respond in a way that resolved the conflict do this kind of mischief might be avoided. But they are shy people, and there’s a good reason they nearly gave up movie making to keep their anonymity. Like I said I get it.

    I’m a firm believer in not assuming malice where in all probability none is intended. It’s not like the cast of the movie wasn’t racially balance, culturally diverse and artistically representative, just as is Sens8.

    On the flip side, I have compassion for people who feel their ethnicity had not been respected. We all live down a whole lot of racial privilege and there is still a lot of messy past to clean up.

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