Netflix’s ‘Sense8’ sets a new standard for diversity on TV

As the most diverse show on television, Sense8 deserves a second season.

12:45 pm EDT, July 29, 2015

A few months out, one of Netflix’s newest original dramas, Sense8 has yet to get a season 2 order from the network. That needs to change seeing as it’s Netflix’s, and quite honestly television’s, most important show.

You might have seen our previous review of Sense8 or heard our rave reviews on Hypable’s Hype podcast, but if you still haven’t given the show a shot, then you clearly haven’t grasped just how important Sense8 really is.

If you’re unfamiliar with the show, Sense8 follows the lives of eight people all over the globe, who start sharing a mental/psychic connection. The premise sounds simple enough, but once you get into the details of who they are, why they can sense and communicate with each other and who’s after them, you’ll find yourself deep in a sci-fi world that keeps you wanting more.

But this isn’t a review of the show, we’ve already done that. This is an attempt to make you aware of just how important this show is to the television industry, and why it needs to be renewed.

Sense8 Diversity

Diversity handled like never before

One of the reasons we think Sense8 is so important to the television industry is the sheer diversity it brings to the table. Most television shows in Hollywood focus on a primarily white cast with the occasional supporting character(s) played by people of color, or sometimes if the main character in a show is a person of color they’re still being surrounded by a dominantly white cast.

Sense8’s main characters are not only equally racially diverse, but also culturally: you have characters from the United States, Kenya, Iceland, Germany, India, Korea and Mexico. And the best part about it all is that this show isn’t just filmed in some sound stage on a Hollywood lot, but is actually filmed in all of the characters’ home countries. This is why you’ll see shots of Lombard street in San Francisco directly after seeing someone get on the Tube in London — the show went to major lengths to keep the diversity authentic.

Because of the show’s diverse cast, we’re treated to glimpses of the world like we never saw it portrayed on TV before (save for Amazing Race, but that doesn’t count). In one episode you’ll see people celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi, and then in the next scene you’ll see how Kenyan life is affected in Nairobi.

Sense8 gives a new meaning to the word diverse in the world of television, and it is the most realistic representation of the human race we have ever seen. To have this last only one season would be a disservice to the millions of people around the globe who come from the regions the show represents.

Sense8 Nomi Amanita

LGBTQ representation at its finest

While this definitely falls under the umbrella of diversity, the LGBTQ representation in the show deserves its own category. There’s a total of four characters who identify as part of the LGBTQ community, and they’re some of our favorite ones on the show.

Nomi, arguably one of the show’s most important characters, is a transgender woman who is dating Amanita, played by none other than Doctor Who‘s Freema Agyeman. The best part about Nomi’s arc is the very real representation of what it’s like for a transgender woman who has family that won’t accept them — Nomi’s mother continues to call her by her birth name of Michael.

Sense8 does a fantastic job of representing the transgender community, and we’re actually very happy that they don’t ignore the problems of discrimination they go through as well, because representation without addressing the very real discrimination that exists isn’t good enough. You can have a trans character, but if you don’t address the issues they face on a daily basis and pretend they’re just happy-go-lucky all the time, then that is also a disservice to the hundreds of thousands of people around the globe who identify as transgender.

And then you have Lito, the Mexican telenovela star. Our favorite thing about Lito is that he’s this hugely popular actor who stars in all of these badass action films, and he’s gay. Through the series Lito struggles with balancing his public life and his private one, choosing to stay in the closet for the sake of his career. His arc is by far one of the most powerful and moving in the show (and also, his boyfriend is gorgeous). We love Lito’s story because he represents the people who are afraid to come out, and we imagine that a vast majority of the LGBTQ community will connect with his arc in particular.

And the best part about the LGBTQ representation? The fluidity of it all! There’s a scene in the series where all of our eight characters end up in this very weird, almost confusing orgy. In this situation, none of the characters are hesitant, and they’re all just extremely passionate with each other. It’s a fantastic look at just how fluid sexuality can be, no matter where you grow up. Yes, the scene is jarring at first, and completely unexpected, but we love Sense8’s willingness to represent all types of people on the spectrum.

Bravo, Netflix

In the end, we have to applaud Netflix for moving forward with such a groundbreaking show. With a multitude of filming locations and special effects we’re sure it wasn’t cheap to produce, but the end product was worth every single penny.

The Wachowski siblings, who also brought us The Matrix, V For Vendetta and Cloud Atlas, are responsible for bringing this diversity to our screens, and we’re hoping that they continue to work with Netflix to bring us a second season of Sense8.

In a world where television shows are dominated by straight, white males and the occasional representation of a person of color or member of the LGBTQ community, Netflix’s Sense8 has raised the bar for the way TV shows can and should address diversity. We don’t just want a second season of Sense8 — as a society, we need it.

What did you think of ‘Sense8’?

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