What the world needs now is love sweet love — big, confusing, pansexual piles of it with critical acclaim and low ratings. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t always get what it needs (nor, mercifully, what it deserves) and thus, Friday brings us the final episode of Netflix’s beloved, beleaguered, psychosexual sci-fi series “Sense8.”
The show, created by Lana and Lilly Wachowski (the duo behind the “Matrix” franchise as well as “Cloud Atlas”) and J. Michael Straczynski (“Thor,” “Babylon 5”) follows the converging paths of eight strangers who would be completely disconnected from each other were it not for their strange kinship. As “sensates” (a.k.a. Homo sensorium), they can feel each other’s emotions, think each other’s thoughts, speak each other’s languages, and exchange each other’s knowledge (and . . . other stuff).
The cross-cultural, globe-hugging, polysexual vibe of “Sense8” — not to mention the sci-fi pedigree of its creators — made it a fast favorite among a swiftly devoted cult audience.
And outside of its expansive, expensive story line — each episode ran up an estimated bill of $9 million, or $108 million a season — “Sense8” represented another example of the more inclusive forefront of the then-sparkly-new streaming landscape, which ushered trans characters and creators into the mainstream via series like Amazon’s “Transparent” and Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black.” The Wachowski siblings are both transgender women, as is series star Jamie Clayton. “Sense8” is, as author Sam Miller once put it to “Wired,” “super, super queer . . . in terms of narrative, in terms of the dialogue — this is coming from a really queer place.”
And as with most things that come from a super queer place, those very qualities that made it so special are the same things that got it pushed aside. As Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, told reporters when the series was canceled in 2017, “A big, expensive show for a tiny audience is hard even in our model to make that work very long.”
In the feature-length grand finale that goes live on Friday, “the cluster, their sidekicks, and some unexpected allies band together for a rescue mission.” If only “Sense8” could have saved itself.Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MBrodeur.