Sense8 - What did you think?

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Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by Ciella on Mon Jun 08, 2015 5:25 am

I have to say, I really loved this show. It felt very slow moving at first, but looking back, I think that's because I was expecting "being a sensate" to be the driving plot. But in reality, the driving plot was really these character's individual choices and challenges. The show does end up using the fun and cinematic aspects of being a sensate as it progresses, and those moments are well worth it. But at the end of the day, I wasn't crying or cheering (things both my husband and I did multiple times) for the superpowers, I was doing it for the characters. I'm really hoping for a season 2

I'd love to hear people's opinions of it here. I've heard some mixed reviews, which shocked me after enjoying it so much. The Wachowski's are pretty polarizing, but this honestly didn't feel overly Wachowski-esque to me.

Roll-over for spoilers:
I was sooo happy no one died in the end. I was sure someone was, but I got so attached to each character and their story that I didn't want to let any of them go!
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by Katherinethegrape on Mon Jun 08, 2015 5:52 am

I haven't finished the series yet (I'm only up to ep 3) but I have to say that Leto's story arc is the only one that's interesting at all. The others are either boring, or so laden with stereotypes that it makes me ill.

Or it's Nomi's story arc which makes me.... ugh. It's so bad. Soooooo bad.
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by aesta on Mon Jun 08, 2015 9:06 am

Nomi's story arc... I don't know where to land on that. @___@'' I'd be really interested to hear more of your thoughts on it!

I'm only about halfway through, so I'm afraid to click on your spoilers Ciella, haha.

I'm enjoying it so far, but it does seem to have a bad habit of using stereotypes as a shortcut for world- and character-building. Whiiiiiiich is hugely disappointing for a show about a group of global sensory friends, or whatever. I get that they're working with a bajillion characters in a bajillion different settings, but that doesn't mean stereotypes are a good idea. ;T

The sex is refreshingly realistic compared to the usual tv/movie no-one-is-having-this sex.
spoilers for ep 6:
But the orgy freaked me the fuck out because THE NORMIE PARTNERS DID NOT CONSENT TO THAT. I feel REALLY GROSS about Amanita & what's his name not knowing how many people they were having sex with. & So far, the show has just glossed the heck over that entire issue. Like, I get that once your partner is in a hivemind with 7 other people, consent gets complicated. So why not talk about it it would be so interesting and also respectful goddamn it.

I think Sun is my favorite character so far, but her story arc is so frustrating. Her idiot family does not deserve her, dead mom included. Stupid dead mom. Stupid manipulative childhood promises. Stupid stupid.

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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by Katherinethegrape on Mon Jun 08, 2015 9:08 am

Yeah. Keep an eye on my twitter. I usually post my snarky first impressions when I watch it. Very Happy
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by Dave_Too on Mon Jun 08, 2015 9:44 am

FWIW, my wife and I enjoyed it a lot, though #9, 10, and 11 had me crying.

What I'd like to know is, what is the larger purpose of the group? Is it just avoiding Hydra (as we call it) or is there an actual goal?
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by Ciella on Mon Jun 08, 2015 9:54 am

Dave_Too, 9,10, & 11 had us in tears too. It started in the museum scene and didn't really stop till the season was over.
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by littlethingsthatmatter on Mon Jun 08, 2015 1:20 pm

I don't have the time to binge watch right now,so I only have seen the first episode so far,so I can't really judge the series yet.
For a second season,it has an average audience score of 89% on Rotten Tomatoes,so I'd say the chances for a second season are high.
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by Kris Smith on Mon Jun 08, 2015 3:22 pm

If you would like me to, I could start doing recaps on it, but it wouldn't start until Friday.
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by littlethingsthatmatter on Mon Jun 08, 2015 3:34 pm

I'm all for it.
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by Katherinethegrape on Mon Jun 08, 2015 4:53 pm

I'll be watching another episode tonight at around 9-10 EST. Prepare for snark tweeting.
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by Dave_Too on Mon Jun 08, 2015 5:39 pm

Ciella wrote:Dave_Too,  9,10, & 11 had us in tears too. It started in the museum scene and didn't really stop till the season was over.

I guess it wasn't just me. I tend to react strongly to a lot of things (esp. those that relate to parts of my past) but I don't think anything has really gotten into my head that way before. For that matter, my wife was affected by those three episodes as well.
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by Katherinethegrape on Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:38 am

Okay. I'm up to EP 4, and I think I've identified my problem with the series.

There aren't any characters. They're caricatures. They have no personality beyond whatever trope they happen to be portraying (except for Riley who doesn't seem to have any personality at all.)

Nomi's arc reminds us at every chance that she's trans and she's gay, and how much people hate trans people.

Capheus embodies everything we'd expect from an updated version of the noble savage trope.

Wolfgang is a safecracker driven to beat the one safe that his father couldn't beat? Check!

Sun is Asian and therefore Martial Arts!

Wil is Cop with a Heart of Gold surrounded by corruption!

Lito is a hypermasculine actor who hides his gay lifestyle from the public! (Lol, Latino Tom Cruise)

Kala is a Hindu woman caught between tradition and modernization of India.

Riley is... a DJ? Drug addcit? I honestlly don't know because she literally hasn't done anything this entire time except sit quietly while things happen around her.

But you see my point. None of these characters are interesting. They're all stereotypes, and they don't even bother to break the mold on any of them. One would think that by the fourth episode that there'd be at least some character development outside of this, but there really hasn't.

Still going to watch it, though. It's a cool premise, and the mystery is engaging enough, and I really like the cinematography. Plus it could get better as it goes along.
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by Ciella on Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:46 am

In my opinion it does get better, especially after episode 4. Not all the characters get as much of a chance to fill out as I'd like, but that's an unfortunate downside to the huge cast. Riley & Nomi especially. Nomi and Amanita have fantastic moments together and are pretty much the only characters to save the day using their super powers of being awesome, rather than actual superpowers. Kula and Capheus do get the short end of the straw, development-wise, but Capheus at least gets some amazing moments. It can definitely feel more like a 12-hour movie than a TV show though, so I'm interested in what people think once they finish the whole series.
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by Katherinethegrape on Tue Jun 09, 2015 1:43 pm

Cool. That's what I've been hearing, is that ep4 is kind of the apex of bland for the show. I'll be watching another episode or to tonight.
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by Dave_Too on Tue Jun 09, 2015 2:08 pm

You all seem to have a lot more restraint than I do, or I have way too much free time. We binged on the whole thing over three nights.
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by littlethingsthatmatter on Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:49 pm

Ok,so I went to TV Tropes to check out the article about Sense8 and

The creators have stated that all the sensates are pansexual wrote:
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by Kris Smith on Thu Jun 18, 2015 6:58 pm

Okay, I'm watching the first episode, and I just saw the Naomi first pride moment. I'm not going to cry.
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by Ciella on Fri Jun 19, 2015 7:43 am

Kris Smith wrote: I'm not going to cry.

::looks at episodes 9-12::
::looks at Kris Smith::
::steps carefully in front of those episodes::

No... no crying here...
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by Kris Smith on Wed Jun 24, 2015 7:08 pm

I just saw the orgy scene, and two thoughts:
1) I couldn't get into it as I kept expecting somebody to pop up and go, "What are you doing?" (especially in Will's case).
2) Wolfgang's reaction to it all was just hilarious, as was Lito's beard (what is her name?).
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by Tony Velez on Tue Aug 04, 2015 7:12 am

Let's talk about Nomi.

Before I begin, I want to point out that I am a cis man and that that's where my perspective is coming from. I am also a gay man, and that is also relevant when it comes to informing my opinion on this character--a trans lesbian woman. Obviously, not being trans myself, I can't and don't intend to speak for trans people. I can only say how I felt and what went through my mind --with all my biases and experiences-- as I watched Sense8.

Also, spoilers ahead. You have been warned.

Nomi is a...difficult character. It's almost like there are two versions of her. Early season Nomi and Late season Nomi. I'll take it in parts.

Early season Nomi (Episodes 1-4)

For the first half of the season, I felt that she wasn't really a character. She was a trans character. Let me explain.

During the first few episodes, everything about Nomi revolved around being a trans lesbian. We first see her injecting hormones, then we see her at pride for the first two episodes. We see a post-modernist play about the AIDS struggle in the LGBT community through her eyes. She gives an impassioned speech about what pride means to her. We see an exclusionary lesbian and a transphobic mother going out of their way to other her (more on them in a moment.) We see her burst into tears when Amanita defends her because nobody had ever done so before. All of her friends are gay or lesbian and being gay or lesbian is all she talks about with them. And this is all prior to the hospital subplot.

The hospital subplot is difficult to parse out because we learn later on that Dr. Metzger is working for BPO and that his intended lobotomy of Nomi had less to do with her being trans and more to do with her being a sensate. This is actually supported by evidence earlier on when he's shown to be sensitive to her name and pronouns.

Yet at the same time, the whole story is reminiscent of actual experiences that many trans people actually went through in real life. In fact, the show relies on this perception early on to build tension since it's too early in the story to be revealing important plot details about the BPO. The show wants us to think that Meztger is performing the procedure because Nomi is trans, and in that respect, it succeeds perhaps a little too well. How many cases have we heard of someone telling a trans person that there's something wrong with their brain? That the reason they are trans is because there's something wrong with them? All too often, I'd say. While the show doesn't say that in so many words (indeed, it turns out they are more interested in her sensate powers more than her trans identity,) this story very deliberately plays up these assumptions as a way to further victimize Nomi.

Add to that the strawman lesbian and the over-the-top transphobic mother who, in addition to being transphobic, seemed positively delighted over the idea of having Nomi under her thumb. These characters serve one narrative purpose alone: to be bigots. The lesbian is a strawman who exists solely to show how even the gay community can exclude trans individuals. That is literally the extent of her characterization. She walks into the screen to say 'Nomi, you're a man and I hate you for it,' get called out by Amanita, and then is promptly forgotten. She doesn't even get a name. She's not a character --she's not even an obstacle-- she's a mouthpiece. One that exists solely to showcase the discrimination that Nomi faces.

Nomi's mother fares marginally better since signing the hospital papers at least moves the plot along, but beyond that, it seems that she's only there to perpetuate the erasure of trans characters (constantly calling Nomi by the name Michael and using male pronouns) and resent her daughter for being trans. That she's described as a bible-thumper by other characters does her no favors. And, much like the TERF lesbian, she comes into the screen to be a bigot and then politely exits the story shortly after.

In addition to everything, the show damsels Nomi early on. She is trapped in a hospital waiting for Amanita to come rescue her (with a little unsolicited help from Will and Jonas,) and during her stay there, she is incredibly passive. She broods, she sulks, she complains and yells about the injustice of what is happening, but she doesn't act. She doesn't do anything. Not until Will gets her free from her restraints, and even then, she needs help from Amanita to complete her escape.

All this serves to make Nomi look fragile, weak. Like a victim. 'Victim' is an important word because I felt that that was the whole purpose of this storyline. The storyline existed primarily for the purpose of highlighting some of the struggles and injustices that trans people have to face. It exists to show the cis-gendered people in the audience how much discrimination can harm individuals. Don't get me wrong, this is definitely a worthy endeavor, and absolutely necessary if we as a society are to understand and accept the trans community as real and normal. But to do that, the show chose to take away Nomi's agency. She can't be proactive, because once she starts acting, then she's no longer the victim. To highlight these injustices, the show had to reduce Nomi to her trans identity. They stripped her of everything else that made her a character and a person, and instead turned her into a symbol for the trans struggle. A martyr who exists purely to suffer so that cis-gendered people understand the trans struggle.

'Struggle' is another important word, if only because it is the only one that can describe this story. The word that should be used is 'experience,' as in the trans experience. But this isn't the trans experience. The trans experience involves trans people being people in addition to being trans. This is just a struggle.

So in the first few episodes of the season, Nomi wasn't a character. She was a figure and a symbol and a martyr. But she wasn't a person.

Taking this back to my own experience as a gay man, I recall a similar filibuster performed with the character of Kurt Hummel during Glee's sophomore season. In it, the show went full steam into showing his (and by extension, the gay community's) struggles against society. But to effectively do that, they had to strip him of all agency. He became a completely passive entity in his own story. He didn't make things happen. He let things happen. In addition, much like with Nomi, everything about his character revolved around his identity as a gay man.

Unlike Nomi, however, Glee never fully recovered from this tumble. And this brings us to the second half of Nomi's story.


Last edited by Tony Velez on Tue Aug 04, 2015 2:22 pm; edited 4 times in total
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by Tony Velez on Tue Aug 04, 2015 7:38 am

Again, there be spoilers ahead:

Nomi (Episodes 7-12)

After Amanita's rescue of Nomi (and I seriously could go on a long tangent about just how much I love Amanita,) Nomi underwent a sort of transitional phase during Episodes 5-6. Both in terms of story, as the show needed to setup the next arc, and in terms of character, as she decided to take matters into her own hands.

Starting with Episode 7, Nomi finally became a character. And what a great character she became. She shed her status as a symbol and as a martyr, and she became a person instead.

Early in the series, the show had made a passing mention of Nomi's hacking skills. Clearly this was setup for episode seven. Starting with this episode, Nomi's character (and the world surrounding her) does a complete 180. Nomi becomes proactive. She uses her impressive hacking skills to find valuable plot-relevant information. She breaks into Metzger's house. She stands up to him. She protects Riley from the BPO. She organizes Will's intrepid rescue of Riley. She becomes something of a team strategist. She escapes the BPO on a bicycle (this time with solicited help from Will and Sun.)

She becomes someone who is strong, cunning, determined, intelligent, resourceful, compassionate, empathetic, and also trans.

Her trans identity still informs the character, but it no longer IS the character. This is evidenced during an earnest and heartfelt conversation she has with Lito about queerness. This conversation alone was, to me, much more effective than the entire first 4 episode subplot. The reason for this is because her conversation and her flashback to the locker room scene were framed, possibly even juxtaposed, by all the other things she accomplished prior to that. Since she is now a character who is trans as opposed to a trans character, her struggles take on a different, much more visceral light. She is a person, and bad things happened to this person. She is not a symbol.

It's also around this point in the series that we are introduced to two other characters that expand her world in more ways than one. We meet Bug, a hacker friend of hers who, while insensitive at times, is completely well meaning and supports Nomi in any way that he can. We also meet Amanita's mother, who showers Nomi with love and understanding from her very first scene.

These two characters are important for two reasons. First, they give her people to talk to that aren't part of the LGBTQ community, and therefore something to talk about besides her queer identity. This widens her world and makes it just a bit more real. It is impossible to think that LGBTQ people only interact with LGBTQ people, so seeing Nomi interact with two straight characters actually does a lot of world-building.

The second reason why these two characters are important is because they give Nomi a strong support network. In stark contrast to the TERF lesbian and Nomi's mother, these two characters, minor as they are, love and respect Nomi. They support her in every way they can.

I don't think it's a coincidence that when Nomi was being victimized, the supporting cast (Amanita notwithstanding) was hostile towards her, but when Nomi shed the victim label, she was suddenly surrounded by loving people.

So, in conclusion, I really grew to like Nomi. She's one of my favorite sensates and one of my favorite characters in the show. I'd go so far as to say that we need more characters like Nomi on TV and film, but first we need to make sure that we write them as characters and not as victims. Because as fully realized characters with hopes, dreams, and wants independent from their trans identities, their struggles become more real and more powerful. But so do they. And so do we.
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by Ciella on Tue Aug 04, 2015 11:10 am

The more I hear about people's reactions to this show, the more I'm convinced that the accidental weekend binging I did of it was exactly the way it should be watched (whether that's a good thing or a bad thing will probably differ from person to person).

I totally agree with everything you said Tony. There is a HUGE shift in how Nomi is presented as a character throughout the season. But having watched the majority of the show in one day, I think I recall second-half!Nomi much more strongly than victim!Nomi. While the show starts with Will as the audience surrogate and he is very active in the plot, he never evolves into the group leader In every other Sci-Fi show the handsome young white guy would of course be the leader. So seeing Nomi transition into that role was beyond awesome. Especially since her leadership relied so much on her strength of character and intelligence where Will's role as active guy was based more on his emotional response to the other sensates.
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by wondercube on Tue Aug 04, 2015 11:37 am

POTENTIAL SPOILERS?
Nothing explicit, but I reference moments that occur later in the show without getting specific.

I really loved the show. I thought all the characters were great and had fairly compelling stories, though I was kind of confused as to Kala's purpose for 90% of the season. She just seemed to be LI for Wolfgang and didn't seem to contribute much to their cluster until the end. I still loved her though. I felt like I really connected with the whole cast on a feelings level, and Capheus was my sunshine.

I totally get the reservations about Nomi's plot - like, we don't need to see her go through that to understand the struggles Trans* people have faced, nor is it the only way an audience can sympathize/empathize with a Trans* or LGBTQ+ character. But, knowing that the sort of thing Nomi experiences is something many LGBTQ+ people have faced in the past, I found myself feeling great empathy for Nomi at the complete injustice of it all as a gay man. Still, I understand why it feels awful/unnecessary to a lot of people (ultimately it could have been done a different way).

Unfortunately I think Trans* characters might be shown as victims for a while until mainstream America gets more used to the idea. :/

Lito's arc felt a little cliche, since the coming out story has been done so many times. Still, I thought it was excellently done and I felt nothing but love for Lito and Hernando (and I loved Daniella).

The scene between Lito and Nomi might have been my favorite part of the entire show. Also that certain episode 6 scene...
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by Tony Velez on Tue Aug 04, 2015 2:56 pm

I wouldn't say Kala didn't have a purpose during the first 11 episodes. That honor goes to Riley. It's just that Kala's story, when compared to the others, had fairly low stakes.

She got saddled with the requisite love triangle while Lito was fighting an abusive drug dealer, Wolfgang was dealing with his mobster family, Capheous was taking on a dangerous gang, Nomi was getting lobotomized, and Will was exploring the main plot.

Compared to that, marrying someone you don't love feels...empty. Her and Wolfgang's relationship was one of the best written cishet relationships in recent years, but there was just very little impact.

There was this attempt to give her a story about religious zealots fighting her would-be father-in-law and about the Americanization of India (both of which are incredibly compelling,) but the show didn't commit to it, so Kala had very little to do beyond pine about Wolfgang.
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Re: Sense8 - What did you think?

Post by wondercube on Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:14 pm

Tony Velez wrote:There was this attempt to give her a story about religious zealots fighting her would-be father-in-law and about the Americanization of India (both of which are incredibly compelling,) but the show didn't commit to it, so Kala had very little to do beyond pine about Wolfgang.
Yeah, now that I think of it, they could have gone a lot farther with that. I'm not saying Kala's sections were boring, but yes, they had low stakes/impact. I greatly enjoyed Kala x Wolfgang! Everyone in the cluster has a skill to contribute to the whole's survival, and Kala's skill wasn't apparent to me since they don't focus on that aspect of her life as much as with other characters. Truly, Riley does earn the title of "Most Useless Cluster Member," but I loved her anyway. The last episode had all my feels.

The scene between Kala and Capheus was likewise a great scene, but I'd like to see that relationship/discussion explored more too.
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