Netflix Cancellations and the Price of Telling Stories

I started watching Sense8 around 2015 and got super into it. It was definitely a plotline I had never heard of, the idea of 8 souls from across the globe connected to each other, with the ability to access each other at any time they need them, it’s a cool concept that fleshed out some pretty badass characters. After season one I came to the conclusion that the most valuable skills belonged to Sun Bak, who became my all-time favorite character, and it didn’t hurt that Bae Doona acted so well in the role.

Although sometimes I wondered about the consistency of these “interconnected souls”, did they see each other through childhood? Do they always feel what another person is feeling, do someone else’s feelings rank higher than other sensate’s emotions depending on their relationship? I had a lot of questions, but nevertheless, I zipped through the second season, with the last episode leaving me searching relentlessly through the internet to see when the third season would be available…only to see that a couple of weeks later that it would be canceled.

It’s sad because this show had a pretty strong audience and following, with a diverse representation of people of different sexual orientations, nationalities, skin colors, and faiths. It’s one of those shows that has that sanctimonious undercurrent of “we’re different but underneath it all we’re the same homo sapiens sapiens” even though the sensates were some advanced derivation of our species–but that’s beside the point.

Every time a favorite show of mine gets canceled I always have to remind myself as someone who is entering the media and entertainment world, that everything, even storytelling, is a business. A story can be compelling, but if it doesn’t compel enough to pay the bills, it isn’t a story worth funding or backing, even if it is a beautiful one. Sense8 looked like the kind of show that required a lot of effort. I mean, whoever the editor(s) are, I absolutely applaud you. The cuts back and forth from location to location, from character to character, all seamless as though to portray the movement among all eight characters as one, it was done really well, at least from the perspective of a non-film person. But nonetheless, it was a show whose production costs, which, according to Variety were estimated to be around 9 million per episode, superseded the amount of viewership and buzz that its counterparts 13 Reasons Why and Orange Is the New Black successfully gained enough for another season. They also showed that seem to have a lot less editing, camera effects, fanciful cinematography, and beautiful costumes that show like Sense8 and The Get Down had. It’s sad because those things are what added so much to the series

They were stories that were too expensive to tell, but creative and diverse nonetheless, I hope this isn’t the last I see of these kinds of shows.

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