Sense8 – An Honest Review [by Dexxe]
I have found it difficult to give a review of Netflix’s new show Sense8. Therefore this is not a review. As such. Just expression of my disappointments aka issues.
When I finished it I had a simple opinion.
This is the same ol’ regurgitated shit.
I gave it a simple grade B. I had sworn that I would rate it an A cos of the showing of Nairobi. But it really dissapointed me so that is why I gave it a B. It would have been a C but it showed Nairobi so that is why I gave it a B.
So did I like Sense8? The simple answer: I don’t know.
I knew I wanted to watch Sense8 when I watched the trailer and saw that one of those 8 cities was Nairobi. That was my initial excitement. A movie that had to just pick a city in Africa and they went with a Kenyan one. Not a South African one or a Nigerian one. Suck it you South and Western scum. Haha.
The second excitement came from realizing that it was actually shot in Nairobi City. Not on some set. Or some other country that they thought would look like Kenya. I am talking to you Inception. That Mombasa does not look like the Kenyan Mombasa.
Third excitement was The Wachowskis. But that is just because of The first Matrix. I haven’t seen anything by J. Straynagcheksitski so that name did not excite me as such. I haven’t seen Babylon 5 or Cloud Atlas so I guess I was not as excited as some of you guys. (Note to self: Watch these shows)
Another excitement was the story line. It sounded good cos it felt like my Shaddow Maddow like thing. Being controlled by external yet internal forces nini nini.
As you can see, the trailer had really riled me up. I was wet with with anticipation and I could not wait for the foreplay to end so that we could get to the penetration. Netflix released it sometime this month and I was among the first 100,000 to watch it. I did not want spoilers ruining it. But it was too late. The trailer was a spoiler. After all that wetting, the movie fucked me up the ass instead of my vagina.
Here are some of the issues I have.
Give us Netflix
My issues may seem absurd but first things first. I expected this to be the part where Netflix opens up to Africa and more particularly the East African market. Call it Netflix EA. Kind of like the way I’ve seen Netflix Nordic. I mean, an eighth of the show is shot in Kenya, the least they could do is let us watch it. Unless there is a reason they do not want us watching it. Wait, there is.
What is with the stereotypes?
I had assumed the diversity of the show was meant to help showcase cultures in different light. They did not change the lights. The same stereotypes/tropes are paraded out in such a way that you can only conclude that this was made primarily for the US audience. Don’t they already think we are all poor slum dwellers battling with AIDS and have to sell illegal drugs to afford legal ones. I personally think that this narrative should die. Haven’t we milked Kibera enough? Yes, it’s the world’s largest slum and yes, people living there do have severe challenges including HIV/AIDS. Hell, it is almost common sense that you expect a few of them to be selling illegal drugs and robbing people. Kibera Slum will never improve because it is a tourist and donor attraction. I get that. Making money out of the misery of others. It is practically how people come to power.
What I do not get is a a show claiming to be different going down the same path. There is no diversity there. In fact, I think they even made us look bad on purpose. HIV/AIDS drugs are free in Kenya. Yeah. ARVs are free in Kenya. Has been since 2006. I bet that even some Kenyans don’t know this. Probably because the implementation has been iffy. Or the government is not advertising it enough. Either way, I think that if they wanted, they would have made this clear in Sense8. That Capheus (such a Kenyan name!) could not access the drugs because, the system was corrupt or because he was not Kenyan (Capheus, come on!), or maybe he just wanted to hide it cos of shame (but somehow is not ashamed of selling illegal drugs). Something. I dunno, I was not the story writer.
You can tell they ignored the ‘ARVs are free’ angle. It was not that they just did it because they did not know. These guys did research. As is evident by the fact that they had a tribal angle. Yes. Capheus, who is the Kenyan protag, is the son of a Kikuyu mother and a Luo father. They attempted to show this struggle. The father is not in the picture so I guess they also went with the ‘Kikuyu women are single parents’ angle.
Now that we are talking of tropes can we talk about the elephant in the room. Or was it a giraffe. I think it was a Zebra. Kenyans walk around with wildlife like is no biggie.
‘Go fetch water in the Zebra River Capheus and be careful not to be eaten by the lions. If you see the Zebra run in one direction, run the other way baby.OK?’ – Real Kenyans.
Other things I may find stereotypical or common tropes (but maybe really aren’t) are:
- The Indian doctor….if he were male I bet he would be an IT geek… also the impromptu Indian dance. Felt very Bollywoody.
- The Asian that can kick butt… full on martial artist…
- The Mexican soap opera actor … loved by many women but is secretly gay….
- The good cop who want to do what is right… He even saved a black guy…. That was now the real fiction.
They couldn’t get a Kenyan to play a Kenyan?
I dunno how I feel about this. Initially I hated the idea. Don’t we have good Kenyan actors? Don’t we have good Kenyan actors that look good? Capheus is really good looking (as are all the other sensates. Another issue I have) but then the other Kenyans look like the things nightmares are made of. From the plain looking nywele-ndengu kange Jela (played wonderfully by Paul Ogola) to the English cursing thugs. I mean those thugs look hideous. What makes them even more scary is their insistence of using American English.
I decided to let it slide because Matt Murdock was played by a English guy instead of an American in Netflix’s Daredevil (awesome show). You could hear the English accent leak out at times but, you know, maybe it’s a Netflix thing. Maybe the other foreign actors in Sense8 were not born in the country they play. Let’s find out.
- Sun, the South Korean business lady, is played by South Korean actor Bae Donna
- Riley, the Icelandic DJ living in UK, is played by English actor Tuppence Middleton.
- Wolfgang, the German safecracker, is played by German actor Max Riemelt.
- Lito, the Mexican actor, is played by Spanish Actor Miguel Ángel Silvestre
- Kala, the Indian pharmacist, is played by Indian actor Tina Desai.
- Will, the Diplo-looking American cop, is played by American actor Bryan J Smith
- Nomi, the American hacktivist, is played by American actor Jamie Clayton.
And then there is Capheus. The Kenyan AIDS ridden slum dweller. played by a guy who could not speak Sheng’. English Actor Aml Ameen. This is what now gets to me. They went to great lengths to find people that spoke the local languages of the places the characters live in but did not bother for Capheus. Hell, they even made sure that the transgender character is played by a real life transgender. As in, Fuck. It was not hard to get a transgender to play a transgender character but getting a Kenyan to play a Kenyan is like rebuilding the pyramid. Impossible.
Why is that? Is there an article that explains this? If so, please link me up to it. It was excruciating listen to Capheus attempt Sheng’ that easily rolled out Paul Ogola’s character Jela? Why couldn’t they make Ogola the lead? Was it because of his ndengu hair? Was it because he did look the part? Probably. This show wanted everyone to look perfect. Even so, aren’t there perfectish looking Kenyan actors. I get it if they couldn’t afford Eddie Gathegi but come on, they could have easily gotten the guy that played Makmende. He seems tall and symmetrical. And don’t say he can’t act because Sense8 has some shitty line delivery to be honest.
But maybe it’s a casting thing. I have no idea what happens in these calls, so I will not suggest. All I am saying is it was disappointing.
What is with the English?
I will repeat it. This show is made entirely for an kawaida American audience. That is why the panga-toting slum thugs are also speaking in American English. With the motherfucks and the fuck yous and the ‘You air rent a man‘. The reason I wanted to watch this show is because I thought it would show the Nairobi I know. Where coked out Kibera thugs don’t rob you in English. I dunno, I have only been robbed a few times so I may not be familiar with the language they speak. What I am sure however is even if they were using the motherfucks, it would not sound like that. It was very… off.
There was more Sheng‘ than any other local language in Sense8 though. However, it was in the background and you had to look for it.
The rest of the sensates also spoke in English (but with their native accents, mmhh) but for some reason changed to their local languages when they met. For the sake of my sanity, I decided to make this a non issue and conclude that everyone is constantly talking in their local language but I, the viewer, somehow possess the magic ability to translate it to English. It was the only way.
I accept that having 6 different languages would have confused the hell out of these Americans. After all, they are always remaking British shows because they claim British English is not understandable. And God forbid someone mentions subtitles.
Why is everyone so pretty?
I like shows that also happen to have plain looking leads. Especially the cable shows. I have decided to make it a rule to watch any show that has the protag naturally looking plain or ugly. I feel like, the time they save trying to look good is spent on giving a great performance. It is as if, the uglier the actor, the better the performance. Look at your favourite shows critically. If the lead were not as pretty, would you have liked their performance? I have come to a realization of ‘NO’. A lot of these actors are just eye candy, nothing more.
It is with unfortunateness that I report that it is the same with Sense8. The protags are too pretty and this makes their acting suffer. Ok, maybe the good looks is not responsible for their acting but I find it an intriguing coincidence. Why are all the 8 people perfect looking? Fit, symmetrical, eye candy? For a show that claims to be diverse, I don’t understand this. Is it part of the plot? That only perfect looking sensates were born? If the mother were short and fat, would all the sensates be short and fat? If not, why couldn’t they have made some of those body types as diverse as they did the sexual orientation? Hashtag not all lesbians are hot. The leads are so good looking it’s as if it were a beauty contest begging to be ranked. And I hate to disappoint so here is my top 5 list of hotness.
- 4. The rest of the leads
- 3. Riley the EuroDJ.
- 2. Kala the pharmacist. She looks nice.
- 1. The blaksbian. I rate her number one, cos even her line delivery was awesome. She is honestly better than the lead she is supporting. She should have been Nomi.
Too. Much. Sex
‘So first you hate on pretty people and now you want to hate on sex?’
Damn right. With the realization that, just because you are pretty doesn’t mean you are a great actor, came the realization that not every sex scene on TV builds the plot. Some are just there because they want to adhere to the MA rating.
A good example is Sense8. The sex scenes are just too much. I have a feeling that people have the opposite feeling but
hear read me out. I become tired of sex on TV. Sometimes when I am watching a show and the sex scene comes on, I forward. Even if I am alone. Even if it’s a lesbian scene. I do this because sometimes these sex scenes add nothing to the plot. They might as well as well as replace the scene with the words ‘And then they had sex’ because the removal of that scene will not make the plot suffer one bit. It’s just those things TV does these days to make it look like they are showing reality.
Some of the sex scenes in Sense8 were necessary. The gay one by the Mexicans was ok, because it helped show how straight he was not. And the orgy one where everyone feels the sex. That could also be deemed important. The rest however, meh. Pulling out that cum-stained rainbow-coloured strap on and throwing it next to the camera was a statement more than plot. Fuck you and your homophobia.
I do not mind the nudity. It’s the sex. The scene where Mr. Berlin walks up the Ms. Indian’s wedding with his dick out, works. However, if they told us they had sex and then show the lesbians lying in bed titties out, that would have been fine. But there is just something porny with the sex scenes that I am finding unappealing. If I wanted to see porn I would have seen porn. It is cheaper to find.
Speaking of nudity, do you guys rate the importance of a character by how much nudity they show on screen? No, just me? Ok then.
While we are on sex…
I understand why they all look the same age (it was an issue before they explained). It is because they were all born on the same day. And that woman that killed herself is said to have given birth to these sensates. I assume it is a rebirth because there was a birthing montage that that showed it could not have been literal. So with this rebirth, and their telepathic/emphatic connections, aren’t they siblings? Should they be trying to fall in love with each other? Are the producers planing on tackling incest as a sub theme?
The Cities Thing…
The 8 cities thing. Two of them had to be in USA, three in America (cos audience) but the rest are scattered all over. You can tell they wanted to cover every continent. South America missed out but they can share with Mexico. Is Australia a continent? I have no problem they skipped that.
But let’s look at the other cities. They have so much in common that you feel like maybe there is something to it that we should expect. It is probably intentional because of something that will be explained in season 5 (this show really drags out). All the cities are capital cities of their respective countries and/or the most populous. Is this something to do with the show? Am I reaching?
- Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, is also the most populous in Kenya
- Seoul is the capital and the largest metropolis of South Korea.
- Mumbai is the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India.
- Reykjavík/London is the capital city and most populous city of Iceland/United Kingdom
- Berlin is the capital of German and , surprise surprise, the most populous.
- Mexico City is the … you get the drift.
For a show that is praised for diversity, it sure is patterny. And this is what bugs me. Are they doing this intentionally? I ask this because I hear the creators have already planned out a 5th season in their heads. And they have been known to be experts in SciFi so will this play into the show? That sensates only get activated when they are in a populated city?
The Acting is horrible
And that is all I will have to say about that. Because it seems very intentional. Robotic, over the top, under the same top, just everywhere. In a bad way.
One last thing.
This show really drags out. And people confuse this with plot development. You will hear people saying, ‘Episode 1 is so confusing’ and another advising ‘just keep watching, it’ll make sense in later episodes’. What sense? What episodes. Half of this show could have been squeezed in into the pilot.
And for the confusing plot part. Really? What was not clear from the trailer? Let’s watch it, shall we.
It starts off by showing Diplo in a store. He is asked whether he knows what it means to be reborn a sensate. He doesn’t. Then it shows the words
and then a timelapse of the cliche parts to help you know which city you are looking at. Oh look, a really large slum. That must be in Iceland.
They show Diplo looking at the DJ in the mirror. So already you begin to feel like they may see each other even when they are not together. Diplo even says ‘I can feel you but you are really not here’. So this may be a hint that that is what it means to be reborn a sensate. You see people who are not there. Andrews’ char tells Diplo ‘you are no longer just you’ and then the screen flashes
and shows them. So Diplo can feel 8 strangers who are not there. Feel what? The trailer tells you. ‘Anger, joy, rage, pain pleasure, without any reason.’ They then show Ms. San Fran tied to a hospital bed. The straps are also tying down Mr. Berlin in a restaurant. So you sense that if one is trapped, another sensate may feel the same entrapment physically. And then they show the orgy. For pleasure of course.
‘1 connection’ flashes
The trailer continues, Andrews says ‘you have 7 other selves now. (in case the 8 strangers in 8 cities but 1 connection did not ring a bell). You can access each other’s knowledge, language, skills…’ and then shows how. The scenes where the Ms. Korea kicks ass for Mr. Mexico and and Mr. Kenya.
Andrews continues, ‘you will be hunted’ some explodey things then Diplo says ‘I’m losing my mind’ to which Andrews replies ‘no, it is just expanding’. The end.
What did not not get from that trailer? Why would you be confused. They literally gave away everything in the trailer. What the hell is wrong with you people? This is why they dumb down shows. Because we get easily confused. Or maybe you did not see the trailer?
So in conclusion,
I want to love this show so bad. But it is making it difficult. Maybe it is just a really simple and dumbed down show that I am trying to make it seem intelligent. One thing people need to stop saying is that this show is diverse. It is not. It is pretty similar to everything else actually. People are just hang on the diverse sexual orientation.
Sense8 has a lot of potential. I almost like it. Especially because, like I said, it is set in Nairobi. But the truth so far is I did not like it. Not because it was bad. But because I had different expectations. I should not have seen the trailer, maybe then I would have thought it was a deep show.
I will watch a second season, just to see whether they address my ‘issues’ and then if they don’t I will give up.
Did you watch Sense8? What are your thoughts?
Haven’t watched Sense8?
This is only an issue if you are Kenyan.
Capho (that is what he would really be called if he was Kenyan) lives in Kibera and drives a Namba Nane (8) matatu. It goes to Kibera through Ngong’ Road and back. There is no way they would need to pass through Eastlands like they did a couple of times in this show. This is what I would call a geographical era. But I understand. They were look for thuggish looking places. And Ngong’ road did not fit this script.
We have a slum in Eastlando, why could they not shoot in Majengo. Then the driver would have been a Namba Sita/Tisa (6/9) matatu driver and it would help explain why he keeps going thro Ngara and Calif. Did they just pick Kibera because of the 8 in Namba Nane?
I love that they shot in in Eastlando. Cos that is the slum I am from. It made me really excited to see all the places I frequent. Like the place where the mugging took place is called Msoro. Where the ass of the red truck is pointing. I used to buy fries from there.
You see this other place where the fight took place. We call it Desaa. Short of Desert. Because it is so dusty. It is our playing field. People who play soccer ball go there to kick bags of air. It is not even far from the place they were mugged. It is just behind the building Van Damn’s ass is pointing at.
In fact, I could almost see our house. It is there past that blue gate. Next to that red kiosk. That is where Majengo starts. That made me so excited and that is why I find it hard to hate this show. We have a really
bad nice slum in Majengo that these guys would have shot at instead of going 11 Km away to find Kibera.