Netflix renews its diverse sci-fi experiment ‘Sense8’ for second season

Netflix invests in its divisive Wachowskis project—a series you should be watching.

Feb 29, 2020, 10:03 pm*

Internet Culture

Aja Romano 

Aja Romano

The Wachowskis‘ stridently diverse sci-fi opus Sense8 beat the odds Saturday as Netflix tweeted the show’s second-season renewal to a small, jubilant fandom.

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Numerous signs have pointed toward the show’s renewal, most prominently Netflix’s inclusion of a Sense8 panel during its day of interviews at last month’s Television Critics Association summer press tour, alongside other more-popular series like Daredevil. Still, critics have been widely divided on the slow-paced storyline, which focuses on character-building and exposition for much of its first season as it gradually brings its eight main characters together from drastically different backgrounds. 

The pace, initially confusing plotline, emphasis on a truly international cast whose multicultural concerns drive their stories’ queer characters with active sex lives, and the daunting prospect of following eight main characters at once has turned off many fans. This accounts for the totally disparate reactions to the renewal:

But Sense8 has proven to have a deep cult following, with many fans already having watched the entire first season repeatedly, and cries for renewal dogging Netflix’s steps during its long holdout before announcing the show’s fate. (Ultimately, it appears Netflix was just waiting until Aug. 8, which is a significant date within the show’s timeline.)

The renewal seems to have renewed fans’ energy toward promoting the show, as well.

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The promise of a second season signifies Netflix’s commitment to long-game story planning. Co-creator J. Michael Straczynski also helmed the cult sci-fi classic Babylon Five, which like Sense8 was characterized by complex plotting that unfolded over multiple seasons.

It also shows Netflix’s commitment to diversity. Few shows on television or elsewhere can boast Sense8‘s cast. Showcasing queer and trans characters, a cast full of women, and characters of different races, religions, and ethnicities, even its diversity is diverse.

Still, the show has polarized fans, with some arguing that if Sense8 fails it will send a message to the industry that diverse narratives aren’t commercially viable. Others have argued that Sense8 is problematic, and that its all-white creative team has led to “postcard stereotypes” of its characters of color.

A second season should give fans plenty of opportunity to come to terms with these conflicting views about the show. And ideally, whether or not Sense8 finds its footing next season, its renewal will serve as an additional push for Hollywood to create more and more diverse shows in its wake.

Screengrab via Netflix

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*First Published: Aug 9, 2015, 3:12 pm