Sense8 sex

I don’t mind a bit of television in my down time, and I have been interested to see over the years how the depiction of sex has evolved in popular culture (like TV). Sex in mainstream movies is still very tame – hamstrung by the need to meet sensors requirements, directors tend not to risk too much, lest their work be shredded under the sensor’s knife. Television though, with its long format, high volume, and (relatively) low cost can try things that are more risky.

netflix-sense8So. I recently started watching the series Sense8. If you liked the series Heroes then Sense8 may appeal. It is written by the Wachowski siblings (who are more commonly known for movie scripts and directing), and as a result has a really interesting relationship with sex, sexuality, and gender identity. There are gay male characters, lesbian characters, a transgender character, a straight woman who loves gay male porn, the list goes on. It has to be the most sexually diverse range of characters ever assembled.

This is not so surprising though since Lana Wachowski, one half of the Wachowski siblings (born Laurance), underwent gender reassignment to become Lana around 2008. As such, I am sure that the transgender character in Sense8 will be at least in part auto-biographical. And there is nothing like an intense personal experience to give a story depth and impact.

What was most surprising though was a sex scene that (without giving away too much I hope) involved at least eleven characters. Yes, it was basically an orgy that included full frontal male and female nudity, female masturbation, gay male sex, lesbian sex, heterosexual sex. And more cross-gender and inter-gender kissing, cuddling, groping, and orgasms than you can handle.

It was seriously hot. And very, well done. Perhaps just the shock of what was actually being shown was part of why it worked so well. I have never, ever seen anything like it outside of porn – and then the production values, acting, and direction would not come close. It was genuinely interesting sex that made sense in the story without being gratuitous at all really.

So while Sense8 is mostly just fun action drama type television, it also has a very serious side. It is challenging perceptions about gender, it is challenging perceptions about what is erotic and when and where it is appropriate to show. And best of all I think, it is showing that sex is (or should be) a part of everyone’s life. It’s not something reserved for porn stars, or for actors in movies, and it doesn’t have to be the peak of some plot point. It’s for everyone, regardless of how you see yourself and how others see you. It’s for first thing when you wake up in the morning. Or last thing at night. And really any time in between. All you need is to feel that it’s right, be that solo, with a friend, a lover, or more.

It’s not about conforming to other peoples’ ideas of “sexy”. It’s you experiencing your body, your desires, you mind, and other bodies, other minds, other desires and finding out how they work best for you.

So I am saying thank you to Sense8 and the Wachowski siblings, the cast and crew. It takes guts and determination to make something that pushes boundaries. I am sure that much of conservative America (and Australia) will have real trouble with it, but I am hoping that the show will sell well, the studio make its profit, and subsequent seasons be produced.

I have a strong desire to see sex portrayed in a more realistic and well produced way on screen and I think that this is a leap (not a step) in that direction.

John.