Saving Sense8 – Why It Matters

Netflix has cancelled Sense8 with the worst timing possible for a show so groundbreaking and inclusive. Announcing the cancellation on the first day of Pride Month is a pretty dick move and people are not impressed. If you haven’t seen Sense8 yet, I encourage you to watch it. It’s probably one of the most inclusive shows out there right now.

Sense8 is about the connection of humanity and what we can accomplish when we set aside the barriers that separate us. Art and fiction is important, it’s how the world expresses itself and copes with the difficulties of life. Sense8 has so much potential and opens a lot of doors for people to get to know characters of vastly different lives and backgrounds coming together to accomplish amazing things. Shows like this are important and we need them.

Why Sense8 is important:

  • Trans opportunities: It’s directed by the Wachowski’s, both trans women and stars a trans woman as well. Often trans characters are played by cis actors, but the character of Nomi Marks is played by Jamie Clayton, and while that shouldn’t really be groundbreaking, it unfortunately is for a lot of media.
  • Depiction of happy and healthy queer relationships: Nomi is a trans woman in a beautiful relationship with her girlfriend, Amanita. They are dedicated and supportive of one another and clearly in love. Lito and Hernando are love and light and the introduction of Daniela brings out a sweet and compassionate poly relationship. These things are so rarely depicted in media and so for them to be not only shown, but portrayed with love at the forefront, is needed.
  • Diversity of cast: of the 8 mains, half are POC; Sun Bak is Korean, Kala Dandekar is Indian, Capheus Onyango is Kenyan and Lito Rodriguez is Mexican. The secondary mains are also diverse as well; Rajan (Kala’s husband) is Indian, Amanita (Nomi’s girlfriend) is a black American, Detective Mun (Sun’s love interest) is Korean, Hernando and Daniela (Lito’s bf/gf) are Mexican and Zakia (Capheus’ love interest) is Kenyan. The show’s locations are all around the world and unlike many shows in the media, the people on location are not white washed. They show these places with the actual people who live there and while the difficulties some locations face are quite prominent (violence and drug trade in Berlin/Nairobi, for example) they focus on the individual people to highlight that those places are not defined by those things.

There are probably more reasons, but those are off the top of my head. If you would like to help save this show, you can join the social media storm under #RenewSense8 and #SaveSense8

There is also a petition available to sign: https://www.change.org/p/netflixlat-netflix-sense8-sense-8-season-3-renewal?recruiter=71173543&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition

Shows like Sense8 need to exist, positive representation needs to be in the media. People deserve to see themselves in media. We need to let producers know that cancellation of shows like this without reason isn’t acceptable.

Thanks for stopping by!

-Erin

What I’m Watching – Sense8

Sense8 is a show on Netflix produced by the Wachowski’s (think The Matrix) and focuses around 8 main characters who are all sensates. Essentially sensates are born in clusters of 8 all around the world and they have an intense connection to one another, so much so that they can access one another with their thoughts and utilize skills of the others. The first few episodes can be very confusing and some things are still not entirely clear even after finishing season 2, but it’s thoroughly enjoyable.

Our mains:

Sun – Korean badass who is exceptionally skilled in martial arts. She gets entangled with her families embezzlement scheme and is stuck choosing between family and self-preservation.

Lito – Mexican actor in the sweetest relationship ever with Hernando (a professor) and (possibly?) Daniela, a ladyfriend of theirs who moves in to escape an abusive relationship.

Nomi – American trans hacktivist on the run from the law in a relationship with Amanita

Will – American cop with a complex father-son dynamic who falls in love with fellow sensate, Riley.

Riley – Icelandic DJ involved in the London drug trade who is afraid to go home due to being told she was cursed as a child

Kala – Indian pharmacist with extensive knowledge of explosives who is about to marry Rajan, a man she doesn’t love

Wolfgang – German-Russian thief who specializes in safe cracking. He is involved with organized crime through his family who control a section of Berlin.

Capheus – Kenyan bus driver who is intensely devoted to his mother and does everything he can to get her the medication she needs, including getting involved in local drug lords.

There are a lot of characters and a lot of storylines that flow and intersect to keep track of, so the above is a sort of cheat sheet for at least the main characters.

First off, the diversity of this cast is pretty spectacular and includes many who don’t have English as a first language. Characters are intelligent, dynamic, resourceful and despite the many differences in them they all flow together so well. Characters who seem to be opposites on the surface, such as Sun (very reserved)  and Lito (dramallama extraordinaire) or Wolfgang (criminal) and Will (cop), manage to find connections and forge realistic relationships.

The lore around sensates is very slowly revealed over the course of the series and there is still plenty more to learn. We know that BPO (Biological Preservation Organization) wants to study and recruit sensates. Those who refuse are either lobotomized or executed. BPO, and their representative, Whispers, are the primary antagonistic force of the series, hunting our MC’s and pushing them to the brink. Other obstacles abound, but they serve to teach the sensates about themselves and each other, forcing them into extreme circumstance and think on their feet. The handy part about being a sensate is accessing skills from the others. Don’t know how to drive? Connect to Capheus. Don’t know how to fight? Connect to Wolfgang or Sun. Need to get into secure facilities? Call up Nomi and she’ll bust through cyberspace to get you what you need. It’s truly fascinating to watch their teamwork develop.

One hilarious part of the sensate connection is that when they visit one another in their heads, they can physically experience the others, but no one else can see them. This results in some awkward open mouth air kissing, rolling around in snow piles and some vigorous conversations that leave bystanders incredibly confused.

The antagonist characters and secondary protagonists are just as vibrant and amazing as the main characters. A cast this large is always going to be a challenge, but once you sort of get a feel for who everyone is, then it works perfectly. Even though we only get individual characters in snippets, you don’t really feel shortchanged on their development.

All in all, I love this show. It is DEFINITELY NSFW, so be aware of that. There is a lot of nakedness and violence, but if you’re cool with that, I 100% recommend it. Push through the first few episodes until it starts to make sense, it’s worth it.

Thanks for stopping by!

-Erin

What I’m Reading – Eve The Awakening

Oh my God, you guys! This book is SO good! SciFi is really not my usual jam, but hot damn, do I love this book. The characters are dynamic, the action is well written and it is definitely a page turner. Eve is the debut novel by Jenna Moreci (a gem of a human being who also does awesome writing vlogs which you can check out here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCS_fcv9kBpDN4WWrfcbCrgw). It’s a story set in the not too distant future where aliens called Interlopers have come to earth to hunt Chimera, a new version of humanity. Interlopers are extremely difficult to kill and are flying aliens, because an indestructible monster wasn’t scary enough WITHOUT wings! Chimera are pretty bad-ass, though a lot of them never really develop to their full potential since they’re afraid of being lynched. They are typically stronger and faster than other people and have telekinesis.

Mild SPOILER ALERT going forward.

The main character is Evelyn Kingston, a 19 year old who has gotten sick and tired of being treated like garbage by legit everyone and heads to a new city to attend a school where (hopefully) no one knows who she is.  The bubble of hope lasts for all of two weeks before shit hits the fan and it’s discovered that Interlopers have been kidnapping Chimeras. Eve’s experience at Billington, a prestigious university in Southern California, goes from meh to horrendous when her secret is exposed and it’s also revealed that the Interlopers are hunting humans as well.

Eve is the youngest Chimera to have ever developed her powers. Chimeras typically Emerge around age 20, but Eve was only 8, prompted by the trauma of her parent’s deaths. Chimeras are treated much the same awful way society has treated the other. They are bullied, beaten, murdered (attempted, at least), ostracized and denied work simply because they were born differently.

We have five mains total, with Eve being the primary. Also in our cast of awesome protagonists we have Jason, Percy, Sancho and JJ. We have a lot of antagonists, since most of the world is intensely hostile towards the Chimera. Besides the Interlopers, we also have Heather, Madison, Hayden and Professor Richards actively going against Eve with severe malicious intent. They’re semi-typical mean girls, but from extremely wealthy and influential families who actually do have the full means to destroy a person. Every time there was a “Shut up, Hayden!” my brain automatically went to The Heathers Musical. (If you’re curious, check out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-Rl-Hddk6I warning for adult language)

Our love interest is Jason Valentine, the high profile son of a senator that Eve ends up tutoring under orders from the Dean. Jason turns out to be a Chimera as well and develops his powers with Eve’s help. Jason’s emergence also offers us the first look at what the Interlopers are doing to the Chimeras, namely dissecting them. Thankfully the Chimera heal really quickly and are difficult to kill or Jason would have never survived his injuries. Jason is strong, loyal and a really good match for Eve.

Percy is my personal favourite in the book. He’s a spoiled little rich boy used to the best of the best, but really so much more than that. He is one of only two of Jason’s friends that doesn’t give a rat’s arse about him being a Chimera and he’s just as willing as his chimera friends to put his life on the line to protect others. He’s sort of the bank of the whole operation and finances their weaponry to fight the Interlopers, but gets just as down and dirty as the rest.  I LOVE him. He’s really just a witty delight and charming AF.

Sancho is the resident pyro and the other of Jason’s friends who sticks around. He’s intensely intelligent and loves to create things, specifically things that will blow stuff up. He’s a really fun character, a little maniacal when he gets to light stuff on fire, but overall loves to play the hero and is a valuable asset to the team.

JJ is the tech genius of the group, though her and Eve don’t get off to a very good start. She has no qualms with breaking the law to get things done and is practically a technological wizard with the stuff she manages to pull off in the story. She has some rough edges, like Eve and the two butt heads a fair amount over the book. Regardless, she’s extremely useful and while she doesn’t do any of the actual fighting, there’s no way our heroes could have succeeded without JJ forcefully intervening into their plans.

OMG THE REVEAL OF THE BIG BAD! I did not see it coming and I am so impressed with how it went down. The pacing of the story is excellent and even though the book is rather hefty, it doesn’t feel like you’re slogging at any point to get through it. Overall this was an excellent read and an amazing debut for Jenna 🙂

Check out the first three chapters on her website: http://jennamoreci.com/  There are also links for purchase (with the option of signed copies) there as well

Thanks for stopping by!

-Erin

What I’m Reading – Uglies

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld is a YA dystopian set a few hundred years in the future after the collapse of the “Rusties” (ie. us). In this new world people are separated from their families when they turn 12 and become “Uglies”. They are educated until they turn 16 at which point they go for mandatory plastic surgery to make them “Pretties”. The justification for this is that in the past people were bullied, murdered, etc. for how they looked, their skin color, etc. and this future society aims to make everyone adhere to the exact same standard of beauty so nothing like that will happen again. Our protagonist,Tally Youngblood, starts us off a few months before she turns 16. Her best friend, Peris, has already become Pretty and is living in New Pretty Town, away from Uglyville. Honestly, the thing that irked me the most in this book was the names of things, because really, they’re bad. Uglyville for the Uglies, New Pretty Town for the New Pretties and then Crumblyville for the Middle and Late Pretties. I almost got desensitized to the words ugly, pretty, biology, etc. because they are used so excessively in the early parts of the book.

In this future world everyone is basically trained to hate how they look so that they will happily submit to the surgeries. These modifications go so far as to alter height, scraping bones for more “pleasing” shapes, etc.

SPOILER ALERT for anyone who wants to read these books.

What is not revealed is that the surgery also modifies their brains as well, making them more pliable and easy-going so that they are easier to control. The only people who don’t have these modifications made permanent are those who work in high stress jobs – fire fighting, police, government, medical, etc. but majority of the population is turned into party loving sheep.

The catalyst for all of what happens in book 1 is Shay, a girl Tally meets after they are both left alone in Uglyville after their friends turn 16 before them. Shay has been escaping the city for fun and met up with people who have previously run away and joined a society called the Smoke. In the Smoke no one undergoes the surgery. Shay runs away to join the Smoke after failing to convince Tally to go with her. Tally has no intention of leaving and wants only to undergo the surgery and rejoin Peris in New Pretty Town. This doesn’t end up going as planned as she is intercepted by Special Circumstance, (essentially the secret police) and is blackmailed into tracking down the Smoke so that SC can capture, imprison, re-educate, etc. the people there.

In the Smoke we meet David, the child of runaways who has never known life in the cities. Tally has every intention of betraying the Smoke to Special Circumstances so that she can go through with her pretty-ing surgery, but quickly finds out that she would be destroying the lives of all the people who’ve chosen not to live the city life. One of the complaints I’ve read in reviews is that this is a case of the man swooping in to fix the heroine’s life, but really all David does is be kind to her and try to convince her that she’s not actually hideous, which has been parroted to her for years. David introduces her to his parents, who began the Smoke after discovering the brain altering part of the surgeries. They’re the ones who explain everything to Tally and are the reason she decides she can’t betray them. David only brings her to them because she tells him she’s not sure that she wants to stay in the Smoke and he wants her to be able to make an informed decision about what it means to go back to the city and get the surgery.

Tally was given a tracker by SC and when she attempts to destroy it, she accidentally activates it and the Smoke is invaded. The resulting chaos leaves only Tally and David uncaptured, hiding in the wilderness where they plan a rescue attempt into the city to save the Smokies.

Overall Uglies as an enjoyable read. The story itself was pretty interesting, enough to make me pick up the next book, but it’s not all that amazing.

Thanks for stopping by!

-Erin