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Sense8: Cancellation…then Vindication!

Last week, I wrote about my admiration and affection for the Netflix Original show Sense8. I introduced the characters scattered across the world that suddenly find themselves psychically entangled. My focus in that piece was the high level of diversity present in the show, which is particularly important during a time when we are deluged with messages of polarization. Anything that delivers the message that people can come together and be stronger not in spite of their differences, but because of them, ought to be expanded and trumpeted. Sadly, Netflix apparently disagrees. In early June, less than a month after the release of the second season, Netflix announced that the possibility of a third season for the show was dead.

Netflix claims they cancelled Sense8 purely because of the numbers, but their standard practice is not to reveal viewership information to the public. Therefore, there is no way to know in what way the show was lacking, or where it was not playing well. It is true that the show, spanning multiple continents, with casts and crews all over the world, and a main cast that must travel together in order to film the majority of scenes is extremely costly and time consuming to produce. But to cancel a show only a short time after the second season premiered, when the entertainment company’s business model is based around the ability to watch a show whenever it is convenient for the subscriber, and the practice of binge watching is actively encouraged, is illogical. A potentially sizeable portion of the audience will hold off viewing Netflix shows until they have a large chunk of time that they can sit and watch the entire season at once. If I am any example, a month is not necessarily enough time for many busy people to find the time to watch even their favorite show in this way. Therefore, the data on which Netflix premised their decision is by default both lacking and faulty.

I personally know several people that have opted not to start the second season of Sense8 simply because they know that Netflix cancelled the show without a sense of resolution. Since Sense8 is in many ways a new concept, gaining a wide following must be a long term goal. It takes time for an innovative program to draw in a strong following. Denying the show’s creators the chance to give a sense of resolution to the show at least, if not the ability to continue and expand the story, necessarily cripples Sense8’s ability to gain a larger fan following. So many people have felt burned by the sudden cancellation of a favorite show, therefore few are willing to start something they know seems likely to repeat such an unpleasant experience.

Possibly the most bittersweet part of all in the wake of the cancellation news has been the reactions. Yes, the cast, crew, and creators have expressed their disappointment at not being able to continue the story, but it is the fan reactions that have stood out. There has been a massive outpouring of anger at the cancellation, and of love for the show from the fans, revealing just how large, and passionately involved, the audience really has been. Considering that there must be at least as many casual viewers as there were ardent fans of the show, the vocal outpouring of love for the show has been astounding. I have lost count of the number of campaigns urging Netflix, or a competitor like Amazon, to pick the show back up and continue the story. There are several groups on Facebook alone that were created with the specific purpose of coming up with strategies to make an impact in the fight to bring the show back.

Every day, it seems like I have heard of a new way to try and boost the visibility of both the show and the attempts to save it. This has ranged from voting in polls on entertainment sites, to sending Netflix letters, and to my personal favorite (which is useful beyond this particular fan campaign), the webpage for requesting properties you would like to see on Netflix. I, and many others, type Sense8 season 3 into the fields and send the request on to Netflix. If there is anything with a glimmer of hope to bringing the Sense8 back, it has been attempted.

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While I was writing this piece, the amazing happened! Due in large part to the efforts of fans, Netflix decided to give Sense8 a two hour finale episode that will air next year. The announcement was made on the twitter account of show creator Lana Wachowski. With the announcement Lana wrote an incredibly heartwarming letter thanking the fans for their efforts and devotion to the show. A special finale episode means that the show will have a chance to gain a sense of resolution, as well as to grow it’s audience. With the cliffhanger ending of season two, this news has brought relief and jubilation to many. And after the special episode next year… As Lana Wachowski pointed out in her letter, if this experience teaches anything, it is that you NEVER know.

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Daniel Holl

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