The Netflix original series Sense8 is all about characters from different parts of the world, so we asked fans from those countries to tell us how accurate the portrayal of each culture is. Is Sense8 true to the cultures they depict? It’s time to find out!
A couple weeks ago we asked fans around the world to email us and let us know what they thought about Sense8‘s representation of their culture.
Was the show accurate to the vibe of your city? Did the traditions and customs on the show accurately reflect the ones you or your friends partake in? And what, if anything, did you wish the show did differently to better portray your community?
These are all things we’re curious to hear and thanks to five amazing fans we were able to get some great insight into how well Sense8 incorporates each culture.
Related: Hypable reviews Sense8 season 2
Sonia – Ramos Arizpe, Mexico
Sense8 introduces us to Mexican culture gradually. First with images, distinct decoration in Lito’s movies and landmarks during establishing shots. From the beginning, the show has made a good job of avoiding obvious stereotypes, this way bringing us something different that also feels authentic.
One good example takes place the first time Sun meets Lito. We listen to “Perfidia” in the background, a mellow song about broken hearts that could have easily been replaced by a more popular cumbia or merengue we are so used to hearing on television, even in our own media.
It’s not until episode four that code switching starts to happen. We get further glimpses into the language here and there, like when we hear “leave him in peace” a couple times, as opposed to the more popular phrase “leave him alone” which is a literal translation of what someone would have said in Spanish.
The most important part is obviously Lito’s struggle with his sexuality. In a country that just last year had “pro-family” demonstrations nationwide and witnessed the release of a movie with negative messages about same-sex couples adopting children, it seems like we need Sense8 not only to see ourselves on screen but to learn from stories and cultures we are not familiar with.
And though the show has made a good job of representing our culture so far, it has only been for a limited amount of time. I’m ready to have a bigger immersion and see how this intersects with topics that are not limited to our territory, from Lito’s dismissal of domestic abuse to Daniela’s fetishization of gay men.
I’m eager to to see how this story handles these characters and the places it takes us in the future.
Enele- Berlin, Germany
Does Netflix represent Berlin’s culture in a proper way? This question is damn hard, guys.
In every space, there exists as many realities and cultures as there are lives. Among Berlin’s 4 million people there are all kinds – generally liberal, laissez-faire, yes, but to everyone, The Real Berlin would be something different. I’ve lived, learned and studied all of my two-decades-long life in Berlin, but I can compare Wolfgang’s life only to my own experiences.
Luckily he was born in a similar part of the town like me, East Berlin. When he goes out, it’s usually in the more modern, alternative and cheap districts in the eastern centre, something a young adult would definitively do. In general, I think Sense8 does a nice job portraying the life of a single and desperate 20-something in Berlin – no-one under 50 would be called Wolfgang, though. ;)
I also recall several moments when I hushed “it looks so German”: Meeting his uncle, the locksmith store, filthy toilets in bars… He actually talked in Berlin accent, something he should do way more often! But… how many of us can say they’re the offspring of a gangster family?
I can’t, but we do have criminal clans in Berlin. There are hidden communities with parallel structures, tight bounds and high level of organised criminality. Depending on where you live in Berlin, you only hear about criminal clans on the news, if at all.
In Berlin, we don’t steal diamonds, Netflix. We steal 100kg golden coins right out of the museum, or dig a tunnel under a bank no one ever notices. But people would definitively notice a bazooka exploding next to one of the biggest train stations in the east. I think.
Hafsa – Bangalore, India
I loved learning about my home country and its culture. I’m a great fan of Sense8 and how it represents each character in their world! Regarding India, I believe the show couldn’t have done a better job at showcasing the INDIAN CULTURE — the wedding, the festivals and the colours here in India!
We Indians share multiple religions and cultures, we are all one here, Hindus, Muslims and Christians all come together to celebrate our festivals and open our hearts to each other! Kala played by Tina Desai is a big deal here in the country and has done many movies too, she’s not only the best one to play the role but also suits the typical Indian Lady stereotype.
Danielle – Chicago, Illinois
From where I’m sitting, Sense8 has done a great job in giving the city of Chicago a true-to-life portrayal on screen. Is it a perfect representation of Chicago that reflects all of the different facets of the city and the people in it? Of course not. But, while the Netflix original hasn’t spent all that much time in Chicago, the characterization of Will perfectly captures the spirit of one of the best U.S. cities.
On the surface, Will fits pretty neatly into one of the stereotypes of a Chicago male that has become culturally prevalent recently: That of a Chicago cop.
I mean, just look at how many Chicago-related shows are on NBC at the moment. Will is the kind-hearted, yet tortured, young cop whose thirst for justice overshadowed every other thing that he wanted for himself in life. While the details of that characterization aren’t as common in Chicago as TV would like us all to think, there’s still a lot of truth to it.
Like Will, the people here are overwhelmingly kind-hearted and caring. As Midwesterners we’re always trying to help those around us and, more often than not, we hold ourselves accountable for our friends as well as people we’ve just met.
In Sense8, it didn’t take long for Will to take on the role of protector. Some may mistakenly label him as the “leader” of the sensates, but that strikes me as more of an East Coast trait. No, Will is the glue that holds the group together. His loyalty to his friends and family, as well as his open mindedness and understanding, is 100% Chicago.
All in all, Sense8 has done a pretty solid job representing the city of Chicago so far and I can’t wait to see what the second season has in store for Will and my favorite city in the world.
Manya – San Francisco, California
When it comes to the show Sense8 and it’s immersion into different cultures through the eyes of it’s main cast and their strange psychological, supernatural connection to one another, I would have to say that the show is fairly accurate when it comes to the locations they use throughout the show.
Having grown up in San Francisco, they do portray it as vibrant and diverse and somewhat hilly and windy– which is exactly what San Francisco is like. When comparing the life of Nomi to people I know, I’d have to say that there are a lot of similarities.
The show did pick very popular destinations that a lot of my friends frequent, and while I do not identify as LGBTQ+, many of my friends do. To understand the transgender character in the show is hard, but only because it isn’t something I’ve experienced personally.
A few friends of mine have transitioned recently, and while growing up a family friend of ours found identity as a male. Alas, I was too young to really grasp the situation, and it was a different world then. Being able to watch Nomi as a character struggle with her identity in regards to her family and her preference is really eye opening.
It’s a big step to make that decision, and in the show they definitely portray the struggle of having people in denial of who you really are, and/or what you see yourself as. San Francisco and it’s culture is so in your face, that there isn’t much improvement the show could do in my opinion. San Francisco embraces its identity in no small way, just like Sense8 embraces the cultures of every character on the show.
How does ‘Sense8’ do representing your culture?
You can still share with us how you feel Sense8 represents you and your culture, just tell us in the comments!