On June 1st, subscription service Netflix cancelled Sense8, an original series created by the Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski which had recently released its second season. The series' cancellation followed another recent Netflix show axeing, Baz Luhrmann's The Get Down, which when it debuted in the Summer of 2016, was the most expensive Netflix production to date. The production of the sci-fi series' second season took over a year, with the cast and crew filming in over a dozen countries.
The show, which followed eight individuals across the world who are psychologically and emotionally connected, was my personal favourite Netflix original series thanks to its extremely diverse cast and the creativity behind each individual story line. Netflix VP Cindy Holland said in her official statement '[n]ever has there been a more truly global show with an equally diverse and international cast and crew' and it is in the dismissal of the show's importance in terms of representationthat is most excruciating to Sense8's fans. The show's principal cast was made up of actors from four continents; six countries; numerous sexual orientations and genders. Besides the show's protagonists, the supporting cast was equally as talented as well as showing the multitude of beauty the world has to offer. Because of its cast, Sense8 was able to tackle countless topics such as gender and sexuality as well as police brutality; governmental corruption and feminism.
all rights to Netflix / image via ibtimes.com
Sense8's second season was released onto Netflix globally on May 5th, and less than a month later the streaming giant decided to give the show the axe. Although Netflix officials have stated that one of the reasons for cancelling the series was below average viewership numbers (which may have a lot to do with the lack of promotion for the second season on behalf on Netflix), the decision to axe the show seems premeditated due to the lack of time which spanned the release of the second season and the announcement of the series' cancellation. Sense8 fans across the world were immediately angry and the news sparked various article responses, a trending hashtag on twitter and an online petition that received over 480,000 signatures in a number of days. Netflix has since said that they 'thought long and hard' about the series' future, but could not find a way to make a series renewal work. Both Sense8 and The Get Down, which featured an almost entirely POC cast, were amongst the service's most expensive productions. While five other series were denied renewal by Netflix, recent hits like The Crown, Netflix's most expensive production ever, and 13 Reasons Why, which has been criticised for glorifying suicide, have been renewed.
Sure, I have personal stakes in the matter as I truly love Sense8 but it's cancellation upsets me on a deeper level: it shows that Netflix believes diversity is too expensive! The fact that the show, whose first and second season both feature elaborate and wonderful scenes at San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro Pride respectively, was cancelled on the first day of Pride month is another low blow. When the streaming platform began producing original content it highlighted productions that traditional networks might ignore. Orange is the New Black, which was Netflix's third original production, proved that the streaming giant was ready to push those boundaries. Slowly, as the platform picked up women based series like Grace and Frankie and Marvel's Jessica Jones as well as POC cast productions such as Narcos, Marvel's Luke Cage and, more recently, Dear White People it came to be the place to find series that were not being aired on cable or network television.
all rights to Netflix / image via screenrant.com
While certain networks such as ABC have found great critical and commercial success in shows like Fresh Off the Boat, Black-ish and Modern Families while still showcasing actors and creatives of colour or those within the LGBTQIA+ community, few shows represent such a spectrum of humantity as Sense8 did. I deeply hope that this pattern of cancelling shows like The Get Down and Sense8 (other diverse shows like Dear White People as well as Marvel's Luke Cage have yet to be renewed by Netflix) does not symbolise a deviance from Netflix's original intention to promote diverse media. As for Sense8 independently, I can only hope that networks, streaming platforms and film production companies will acknowledge its loyal fan base and its hunger for more of the invigorating storylines and allow the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer to continue the sensates story and allow us the closure we so crave.
To find out more about Sense8, read my review and recap of Season 1 here.
Published by Gemma Pecorini Goodall