Turn off the Lights

Sense8 Season One Review

"An Interesting Idea Dissolves into a Complete and Utter Mess"

On paper, the Wachowski siblings’s idea for Sense8 sounds really cool. Eight people, located all around the world, connected through some mysterious force. This allows them to work together to defeat anything that comes their way. Oh, and just for fun, there is a shadowy organization that is seeking to catch these individuals and destroy their link by killing them off one at a time. The problem isn’t in the idea. The problem, as with so many other Wachowski films in the past few years, is in the execution. Sense8, to put it bluntly, is an absolute mess.

From the plot that takes great pains to not explain the ins and outs of these powers (or, to explain why Whispers, the shadowy bad guy played by Terrence Mann, is after our heroes beyond the cursory “he will hunt you down and kill you all” conceit), to dialogue that is stunningly bad and a cast that isn’t that much better, there is very little within Sense8 to recommend. And, lest you think I only watched a few episodes before giving up, let me assure you that I gave 12 hours of my life to watching this show- 12 hours I can never get back.

When I broadcast my disappointment with the series on Twitter, I was sent a few interviews from the Wachowskis’ co-creator J. Michael Straczynski (best known for the sci-fi series Babylon 5, a show I generally enjoyed when it was on) explaining the show and it’s basic plot. I have to admit I didn’t actually watch the interviews, because by that point I had already come to the conclusion that the series wasn’t likely to redeem itself. But I also avoided watching the explanations because I shouldn’t have to. I shouldn’t have to find outside interviews and commentary to explain the basic tenets of a series. That isn’t my job as a viewer. It is the job of the show’s writers, directors, and actors to create a series that is accessible. Sure, additional materials might help one to gain a deeper understanding of a particular series, but a basic understanding should be apparent in the show on its own. With Sense8, it’s not.


And that is, perhaps, the most troubling aspect of the series. After finishing the first season, I understand what the eight central characters can do. I do not understand why they are such a threat to this shadow organization. I don’t understand why they were chosen. And, after 12 episodes, I can only name four characters off the top of my head. I can, however, offer rather one dimensional character traits of the other four characters to you (there’s the African man who loves Jean-Claude van Damme, the Asian woman who went to jail for her brother and is a gifted fighter, the Indian woman who doesn’t want to marry her fiance, and the closeted Mexican actor). And of the four characters whose names I know, I also only know basics identifying facts about them. I can’t, for instance, tell you anything about who they are beyond their race, nationality, and sexual orientation. The characterizations are so completely shallow within the series that each character does not exist beyond their most clearly identifying elements (the mobster, the transgender woman, the DJ, the cop, etc.). If I don’t know what makes these men and women tick, I don’t care if something happens to them- good or bad.

The choppy and dull dialogue does nothing to help suss out inner secrets and complexities within the characters. And, since only a small handful of the cast seem to have acting talent, those on screen cannot make up myriad of issues plaguing the series. Aml Ameen (who portrays Capheus, the Kenyan bus driver with a love of Jean-Claude van Damme) and Miguel Ángel Silvestre (the closeted actor) are the breakout stars of the show, each seeming to elevate the story when they appear. Bae Doona, the tough fighting Korean woman Sun Bak, also shines within her scenes (which, are greatly helped by the large amount of martial arts involved). Other than that, there’s not much to write home about. Jamie Clayton, who portrays Nomi the transgendered woman, is particularly stiff in her role, and Freema Agyeman, who portrays Nomi’s girlfriend, offers up one of the most horrific American accents I can ever recall hearing on television.


I could go on, but I think it’s clear to see that Sense8 doesn’t live up to its interesting premise. And that is really a shame. The best element of the series are the truly exceptional fight sequences (hardly a surprise, since that seems to be the only thing the Wachowskis have succeeded in with their projects of late). I should also say that the series is the most sexually open and free series I have ever seen on television, which is another positive. But even that cannot make this a series worth watching. I can’t help but wish the Wachowskis had sold this idea to a studio that could have provided a writer who could have crafted this concept into a more cohesive series. Because, as it stands, there’s nothing worth salvaging from the mess that is Sense8.


  • Strong fight sequences
  • Two very strong performances
  • Middling plot and dialogue
  • Thinly drawn characters
  • Confusing mythology with no real explanation

Liked this article? Try These!


  • Truth

    This is the worst review I’ve ever read about a visual media. It’s so bad that entertinamentfuse’s advertiser’s will be happy because I am going to pass it on to other people so they can see just HOW bad it is.

    Ripe with errors, including characters’ names (the woman’s name is “Nomi,” not “Noomi” ), histrionics (“…12 hours I can never get back.” and “…offers up one of the most horrific American accents I can ever recall hearing on television”), and just plain ignorance (“I can’t, for instance, tell you anything about who they are beyond their race, nationality, and sexual preferences” – okay, so sexuality e.g. homosexuality in the case of a few characters is a preference – please, can you tell me when you remembered the day you CHOSE which gender you would be attracted to? I myself can’t because it’s always been inherent. As “a gay lady,” which is how you refer to yourself, it is irresponsible for you to convey the idea that homosexuality is a preference. And you are a bloody idiot if you can’t follow the plot or remember the characters’ names after 12 episodes; eight names are not difficult to follow).

    You published this article two months ago and mine is the first comment. That’s how pathetically bad your article is, Jean.

    I now know to avoid this website in the future. Having you as a SENIOR TV critic and allowing your to post such tripe means this website cares nothing – not little, but nothing – about quality.

    That said, sense8 is an exciting TV show with fantastic actors, beautiful scenes around the globe, and edge-of-your-seat storylines. I hope that someone reads my comment and treats her- or himself to watching the show.

    • Jean Henegan

      First up, thanks for finding the error with Nomi’s name- I’ve made that edit. And you are right about sexual preference- I should have caught that one and I’m sorry I didn’t. I’ve updated that as well.

      But I won’t apologize for not enjoying the series. I didn’t. And I’ll stand by my thoughts on what was wrong with it. That, frankly, is my job here- to write what I thought about a show. And, from my point of view, season one of Sense8 was a mess from a character and story perspective. I didn’t find the acting engaging, as you did, or the story as well structured as you apparently did. And that’s ok- you’re welcome to your thoughts as I am to mine. Just because we disagreed doesn’t mean either one of us are wrong, or that the opinion of the other makes one a “bloody idiot.” The amazing thing about criticism is that it is subjective.

      That isn’t to say that someone else, like you, can’t enjoy the season, or find something else in it that I didn’t. I’m glad you liked the series- the great thing about the age of television we live in today is that there really is something for everyone out there. I hope you enjoy the upcoming second season as well, when it’s released.

      And I hope the fact that you share a different opinion on me regarding the quality of Sense8 doesn’t mean you stop visiting the site altogether. But again, that’s your choice as well.

      • Truth

        Let’s get something straight and not take words out of context, Jean: I didn’t call you a “bloody idiot” because of your tastes. It was because you misspelled a character’s name; you, as a gay person, labeled sexuality as a preference; and you couldn’t follow the names of characters. Your words: “And, after 12 episodes, I can only name four characters off the top of my head.” Your review was on June 18; the first episode was June 5. Perhaps you have memory issues that you can’t keep track of characters whose names were mentioned repeatedly throughout 12 episodes that were watched in a short amount of time…or perhaps it was because of your complete disinterest in the show (you made that much clear)..but if you didn’t pay attention to the show and your writing, then how can a reader take your critiques seriously?
        I know I cannot.

Meet the Author

About / Bio
TV critic based in Chicago. When not watching and writing about awesome television shows, I can be found lamenting over the latest disappointing performance by any of the various Chicago sports teams or my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Follow me @JeanHenegan on Twitter.

Follow Us