“When you create art that stains the minds of your consumers and imprints on them for the rest of their lives, you have a responsibility to be more connected to your audience…”
Today I finished watching Sense8. A Netflix original about 8 people around the world who are mentally connected to each other. Season 1 was a tough start, simply because the character development for 8 individual characters takes some time. But by the end of season 1, I fell in love. To have 8 completely different people, of different races, cultural backgrounds, and sexuality, and use their everyday struggles as a bridge of empathy, is just brilliant. It demonstrates humanity, as they come together to support one another, where 8 minds become 1.
Season 1 was released in 2015 on Netflix in their traditional “every-episode-available-now” drop. So if you consumed those satisfying 12 episodes in 3 days like I did, then you know how frustrating the silence on a new season was. The only reason I knew there was a season 2 happening is that Aml Ameen tweeted a set photo, no big reveal or major articles reporting on the new season. Cool. And then I saw an advert for a 2016 one-episode Christmas special, but I noticed Aml Ameen had been recast. This pissed me off a little; you don’t invest emotion into characters, replace them, and then expect there to be the same level of attachment. Now I have to start over and learn to love this character as a new actor portrays him. Although, it’s not Netflix’s fault and I know there is more to the story but this recast was the first of three red flags that got me thinking.
The second red flag was the feeling of an unsure season 2 release. There weren’t any viral/social media campaigns that I can remember, I can’t even remember seeing a trailer. A lot of fans didn’t know there was a season 2 approaching mid-2017, which makes you question how much Netflix actually cared about this show. Despite the politics, the new batch of episodes was released and I can safely say, this season is the best season of TV I have ever watched. Every episode is a masterpiece. The storytelling is incredibly intimate and emotional, every episode makes you want to cry and scream as you feel so attached and connected to these characters. It is a bold and beautiful symphony of diversity and humanity that we haven’t experienced before on-screen.
The season 2 finale was fast paced and the cliff-hanger at the end gave me shivers. Until I went on to the Sense8 Twitter account to learn that it had been cancelled days before I had even begun watching the new season. As hurt and extremely angry as I was, I decided to do some research to learn why, and see what other people were tweeting. Netflix doesn’t publicly show its ratings and numbers but the Netflix boss Ted Sarandos has said it was cancelled because of financial reasons, as the audience “wasn’t large enough” to justify the shows extremely vast production costs. He also went on to say:
“The audience was very passionate, but not large enough to support the economics of something that big, even on our platform.”
Which sounds like a load of political bullshit. This is the 3rd red flag. I don’t think they actually watch the shows. It seems to me, they care more about the statistics and the numbers than their actual audience. Every month they create more original content, it’s a very big pool of films and TV so how could they possibly watch everything? I’m a huge fan of the creators of Sense8, The Wachowski’s, and I believe their level of genius in filmmaking is unparalleled. They deserve more respect. The PAYING fans deserve more respect. As a fan of the show myself, to connect so intimately with these characters and then have it gone all of a sudden is heartbreaking.
So how can we as consumers and fans be heard? Well according to the half-arsed letter they released on the Sense8 tumblr, we should just forget about it. Despite the uproar in the shows cancellation, with the hashtags #RenewSense8 and #BringBackSense8, the reply from Netflix seems to be very stubborn and harsh. But seeing this crazy social media campaign and the masses of fans who are now speaking up, surely Netflix would do something about it?
Can we at least get a finale? A 2-hour episode that gives us closure?
Can you give the rights to the show to The Wachowski’s or another network like Hulu, HBO or WarnerBro’s?
Not only as a fan/consumer is this worrying, but also as a filmmaker. Filmmakers like myself who care about the art and how it affects the audience. What is the point in telling a story if we can’t end it? I know there are filmmakers who understand this and care more about the story than the politics of ratings. With another season, this show could have gone down in history as one of the best shows ever created, but, it’s safe to say Netflix are becoming greedy capitalists.
I understand they have to handle their business like a business, but when you create art that stains the minds of your consumers and imprints on them for the rest of their lives, you have a responsibility to be more connected to your audience. The more they distance themselves from this, (which is exactly the opposite of what Sense8 is about) the more I think Netflix doesn’t deserve to helm projects like this. I wonder what project they will cancel next. Maybe House Of Cards? Who knows?
By R.M. Moses